Kelly Haworth

Author of Queer Speculative Romance

ReviewsdayTuesday: Cloud Atlas


Hank Green posted a video a few weeks back encouraging the start of “an internet thing!” in this case, the reviewing of books and sharing those reviews on your social media of choice.  So I’m reviewing Cloud Atlas.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell is definitely in my top ten favorites.  It is inspiring, confusing, and breathtaking, not only in its unusual execution, but in the details and intricacies of each individual story.  I first found out about this book by watching the trailer for the movie.  I was dumbfounded; reduced to a shivering, sniffling mess just from the damn trailer.  Needless to say I ordered the book immediately and then forced myself to read it in time to see the movie in theatres.  (This was difficult as I was pregnant and adjusting to a brand-new job, but I finished the book the day before we saw it!)

The opening section with Adam Ewing is definitely not my style.  I have a hard time with historicals unless I can clear distractions and focus on it.  However, in this case, I was so intrigued by the groundwork that Mitchell was layering that when I got to the end of part 1, I gasped, flipping the page back and forth, frustrated and amazed that Mitchell had DARED to cut it in the middle of a sentence.   From then on out I was hopelessly hooked.

This book combines a LOT of elements, and way too many genres.  Thriller, sci fi, romance, dystopian, historical, period piece, etc etc etc.  But it truly works.  And my favorite, of course, was the post-apocalyptic Zachry.  I can imagine that some will be immediately put off by the horribly broken English and compounding slang.  But I loved every syllable of it.  My favorite quote:

“We goaters we knowed the Kohala Mountains like no un else, the crannies’n’streams’n’haunted places, steel trees what the old-time scavvers’d missed, an’ one-two-three Old Un buildin’s what no un knowed but us.”

It embodies that sense of loss of something you never really knew… of course the readers know.  But Zachry and his people didn’t.  It chills us because we know that is our future.  Annihilated, the survivors turning our technologies into fables.

As you can guess, this was a huge inspiration for me.  But it goes a bit deeper than that.  I know I’m not original in fancying the idea that soul mates can span multiple lives.  But when I was a teen writer, I had very large aspirations that every single one of my stories would have the same two souls, showing different parts of their spiritual journeys in different places, different worlds, different times.  I still like to analyze my newer novels in the same context, but I know I’ve branched out from the concept.  Regardless, Cloud Atlas truly struck home for me.

I encourage anyone brave enough to tackle six different writing styles in one book to face this head-on.

Also, it will help the movie make sense. =)

Thank you for reading, and DFTBA!

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