Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell's best-selling Man Booker Prize-shortlisted novel which was also one of Richard & Judy's 100 Books of the Decade, has now been adapted for film. The major motion picture, directed by Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, and Andy Wachowski, stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Doona Bae, James D'Arcy, Zhou Xun, Keith David, and Hugh Grant.
The novel features six characters in interlocking stories, each interrupting the one before it: a reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan's California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified dinery server on death row; and Zachry, a young Pacific islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilisation.
The narrators of Cloud Atlas hear one another's echoes down the corridor of history and their destinies are changed in ways great and small.
Mitchell's other novels are Ghostwritten, Number9Dream, Black Swan Green and The Thousand Autums of Jacob de Zoet, all published by Sceptre.
©2005 David Mitchell (P)2007 RNIB Publishing
"Great book, brought to life better than any movie"
I loved the book when it first came out in print and have been looking out for an unabridged version on audible ever since. The movie may be bonkers (not necessarily bad for that) but don't let that put you off. I know some readers found the hard to get into, but I reckon it's a lot easier with the audible version so, if you have doubts initially, do stick with it. Connections between the different narratives can seem somewhat tenuous, but each is rewarding in its own right. I had forgotten how funny parts of it are (now brought to life by excellent narration), and how unsettling elements set in the future can feel. Overall, a great listen, strongly recommended.
"I want to listen again"
I want to listen to this again and again and again. It spans decades and lifetimes and its underlying message is just as big. Very powerful. I will definitely listen to it more than once.
This book or at least parts of it haunt me still, I found the future especially thought provoking, It is not the genre I usually read but I am so glad I bought it. I have yet to see the movie although I do not think the characters will be who they are in my head. I found the different readers for each story within the story great, Each bringing the individual alive and real. I will certainly look at other David Mitchell titles.
"What an incredible listen!"
To start with I was very confused with what the story was about, but after Jacob de Zoet I was determined to persist. This is the book which has to be listened to with full concentration. After being completely drawn into this incredible yarn of past, present and future, with fantastic readers' voices I found myself postponing jobs and in the end bought the book to listen with the text! I went through each of three parts a few times to savour well written prose and it is sure I will be returning to this listen again and again. I must add that with just a text I would struggle at the beginning.
It took a little while to get into but once I got into the first story, it was absolutely unputdownable. I couldn't wait to get back to it. There are a number of different story lines across different ages linked together tenously.... they could have been completely stand alone stories but are held together by the idea that what we do has consequences. I also loved the way that different readers read each character thereby giving them unique voices as well as variety to my listening. Brilliant book that I am sure I will read again.
"Narrator so awful I couldn't listen"
This book apparently has 6 narrators. However, the only relevant one is the first, because he's so awful that for the first time ever I have abandoned an audio book. He pauses audibly in random places in sentences, I'm guessing at the ends of lines in his script. He pauses audibly before unusual words, which he then invariably mispronounces. He doesn't pause when sentence structure demands it. He shuffles papers audibly. His voice is utterly monotonous.
He sounds like he has done no preparation whatsoever for the job. I regularly read aloud to my children, and I can confidently say that that experience alone means I would do a better job myself.
I tried to tell myself that the other 5 narrators would no doubt be up to the expected standard, but after just over an hour there was no way I could force myself to continue. I will be returning this title.
"A worthy listen!"
I haven't seen the movie, but had been intending to read this book forever. The new version with multiple narrators caught my eye. The book is in some ways 6 for the price of 1, each story easily stands alone, and each is a well-written genre story. Some of the stories segue together nicely, with lots of nice connections, and some stand apart without a lot of strong relationship.
The narration is excellent, using appropriate voices for each character rather than one reader trying to do 6 very different characters. The 6th narrator (Zachary) uses a dialect that is pretty hard to comprehend, I had to listen to some parts twice to figure out what was going on, but the dialect was obviously intentional.
The book sits somewhere between a philosophical book of ideas and a Matryoshka of genre shorts. If you treat it as the former, you might be disappointed. If you treat it as the latter, you'll be pleasantly surprised.
"A very good and Intriguing book, poor Narration"
Typically time shifting, story intertwining and interconnecting story telling. Some wonderfully time defining language used. A very good book.
However, in the Audio book the Narration is adequate at best but often poor. You get the impression the recording is the first time the Narrators have read the book through, especially the first section. Jerky, amateur and frankly spoils the story irrepairably.
I think the different narrators did well with a difficult book. The book itself is a bit over ambitious and doesn't quite deliver but it was entertaining enough.
I loved this vast and powerful novel - so creative in its approach, it had me hooked although was admittedly a little difficult to get into. Stick with it - you will reap the rewards!
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