Review: Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Brace yourselves. This could be the sappiest book review I’ve ever written.

It was hard to choose categories for this novel. Adventure? Mystery? Science fiction? Historical drama? It’s a little of everything. The novel is divided into sections that barely connect, but each one is compelling and, in the first half of the book, maddening in the way it cuts off to switch to something completely different.

After reading some other reviews on Goodreads, there isn’t much I can say about the plot or theme or symbols that hasn’t been said. It is an excellent book. It’s kind of like the movie Pulp Fiction in the way it’s told. I would have given it five stars if it Mitchell had answered a few more questions for me, left me in a couple of his worlds just a little longer, not blown some of the most interesting clouds into different shapes quite so soon. Considering how good the book is, I’m ashamed that it took me so long to finish it. But some nights I was just too tired to pick it up.

What? That wasn’t sappy? Nooo … I guess not. Here’s where the sap runs. I was given a copy of this book by one of my all-time favorite former students, Amanda C. For Christmas last year I gave her a copy of Dickens’ David Copperfield because it is my favorite novel. As a going-away gift when she graduated in May she gave me Cloud Atlas because it is her favorite novel, as stated in a short note she wrote on the inside cover. Seldom did I turn to the story without first looking at her note and smiling over shared memories. She is the kind of student teachers dream of, and, even better, a kindred spirit when it comes to taste in literature. I am very jealous of her college professors now.

Amanda told me Cloud Atlas is “All about Over-Soul,” referring to the idea put forth by Emerson, but studied by us in AP Literature via Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Application of a concept learned in class! Woohoo! It’s a double win for me.

However, finishing this novel was like saying good-bye again. The book goes back on a shelf in my office, and with it the note on the inside cover.

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