Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

I saw a preview for the movie, and then when I saw the book sitting on my friend's desk I couldn't resist borrowing it. It is a fascinating book, largely because of the style in which it is written. It consists of 6 short stories, each split in half. You get the first half of each story in chronological order, followed the the second half of each story in reverse order, so that the 6th story which happens at the furthest point in the future is uninterrupted. The most fascinating thing about it, for me, was that in each story following the first, the main character discovers the previous story in some form or another.

Several people I spoke with found the 6th story very frustrating to read because of the language it is written in - set in the far future, English has changed rather a lot from what we use today. It definitely slowed me down, but I really enjoyed the social implications of the language - you can infer a lot about the history of a society based on its language, and Mitchell did a beautiful job of creating the language.

For me, the most frustrating thing was not really understanding what the whole thing was about until the very last page when finally things came together in a way that was incredibly satisfying. I think that in order to enjoy this fully, I need to sit down and read it over again - it would definitely go faster the second time, but I'm not sure I loved the characters enough to be willing to do this. Certainly not right away. Although I'm definitely tempted to go see the movie, which is apparently much easier to follow if you've already read the book.

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