I’m a big David Mitchell fan. I love both Black Swan Green and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet. Hands down, those are two of my favorite books that I’ve read in the past couple of years. With the imminent release of the Cloud Atlas movie, I decided it was time to tackle this tome.
I must admit, it's been a bit of a slog. I’m pretty mixed on Cloud Atlas. On the one hand, the writing is great and the individual stories are compelling. On the other hand, I can’t say that I enjoy the structure…at all. To me, the book’s post-modern trappings, the nesting doll structure of the stories, bring it down. I loved the individual stories, but because those stories get broken up over the course of the book, I found it hard to get back into them when they roll around again.
Structure aside, I found the connections between stories tenuous at best. This book reads like a bunch of short stories to me. There’s a flash of excitement when elements from the stories resonate off of each other, but I was then very quickly left with a “so what” feeling. I just never felt like the conjunction of stories added up to anything. Maybe I missed the point. I certainly know a lot of folks who love this book, but I remain skeptical.
Fortunately, the writing is excellent and the stories themselves are strong, so it’s good enough to keep reading, but this is certainly not the David Mitchell book I’d recommend.