Friday, 1 January 2010

Cloud Atlas

I finally got round to reading this book which I think has been on my shelf for about 4 years. Since I went on holiday in 6th form and forgot to take a book, I bought two from the airport, chosen just because I liked the covers, then tried to start both and hated them. Coincidentally, the other book was 'A million little pieces' by James Frey, and when I've finally read them they have both turned out to be two of my favourite ever books!

I tried to start this book about 3 times, had no idea really what it was about, the blurb doesn't give much away, but as the first chapter is set in the 1800's, it was pretty heavy reading and I kept giving it up. This time I managed to persevere and realised that the book is made of 6 mini stories, 6 lives which span from Victorian times through the 21st century and right into a post apocalyptic future, and then back again so the book ends where it begins. We start with Adam Ewing's diary travelling on a ship through the pacific with missionaries, to Robert Frobisher's entertaining letters to his gay lover - a composer scrounging of an elderly musician in early 1900's Brugges, to journalist Luisa Rey on the brink of discovering a nuclear scandal in 80's America and in constant fear for her life. Then a publisher trapped in a an old people's home near Hull, to a cloned slave on the run for her life in the near future, and back to pacific islands way into the future when civilisation as we know it has ended with Zachry's tale for a big climax. Then the book works it's way back through each story until we end up finishing Ewing's diary.

Each character is linked in some way, yet each story is so different, the characters, storylines and language, you can hardly believe it's the same author writing. Each story ends on such a cliff hanger and leaves you desperate for more, but then you move onto the next one and get hooked all over again. This book was not only an exciting and thrilling rollercoaster ride but original and an extremely clever social commentary that would give Orwell and Wells a run for their money!

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