Review: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Thursday! One more day! Who else is excited for the weekend?? I know I am. Not only do I have some exciting plans but I can’t wait to sleep in and read in bed (which currently, in the intense Montreal heat, is just me lying on the bed haha). And since finishing the MCAT basically the only thing I’ve done is read. It’s been beyond refreshing. It took me a while (see: I had this book listed as my currently reading on Goodreads for a month) to finish Cloud Atlas but was it ever worth it!

Somni 451 on Revolution: “As Seneca warned Nero: no matter how many of us you kill, you will never kill you successor”

Like many people, I saw the movie adaptation of the book before I read it. Now, I did see it years ago around when it came out, but I remember being super impressed. I was so intrigued by the idea of reincarnation, and the ways that the movie expressed love transcending time, sexuality, and the interconnectedness of humanity. I know, those are some big words.

Reading too many novels makes you go blind

Cloud Atlas is very similar to If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller in that the book is almost vignettes of stories, with half of 5 stories being chronologically introduced, then a full sixth story, and then the conclusion of the previous 5 in reverse chronological order. As each story ends you see how each narrative is linked to each other through little details, a small part of each person’s life passed on to the next story. While I didn’t love this technique in If on a Winter’s Night, I really liked it in Cloud Atlas. I think it has something to do with the closure of the story. While Winter’s Night has the starts of stories but never the end, there are solid conclusions in each of the stories in Cloud Atlas, and I really like this. The sense of closure in each novel is so satisfying, and the fact that there is concrete evidence of one person’s life touching another’s throughout time is really beautiful.


Each story in its own right was really interesting as well. I loved the diversity of narratives – the protagonist went from a notary on a boat in 1850, to a young black woman in San Fran in 1973, to a clone in Korea in 2144. There was a variety of mediums used in the novel too. One story is told through a journal, another through letters to a lover, and another through a word of mouth storytelling. It’s incredible how Mitchelle brings it all together in ways that I couldn’t even imagine. Even the smallest detail is important in this book. One of my favourite parts (and I’m biased when I say this haha) is when a narrator straight up says “I am attracted to both men and women and wonder if my brother was as well”. Like WOW bisexual representation I’m going to cry (too bad Frobisher fulfilled the queer trope and…).

What is any ocean but a multitude of drops

Something that I found really beautiful and intriguing was how the book implied that characters were experiencing reincarnation.  While I love this idea, and it’s clearly something the author meant for readers to infer (he’s said that all characters except one are the same soul reincarnated) it’s kind of vague in the books. Readers are supposed to clue in on the fact that each of the main characters has a birthmark of a comet on their shoulder, and this is what links them throughout the timelines. But it’s really easy to miss, and I think that if you hadn’t seen the movie beforehand like I had it could have been glossed over entirely. Because this was (I feel) a major theme and linkage of the stories, it could have been accentuated more and thus I give the book 4/5 stars. But really, it was an awesome read and I highly recommend!

Sunt lacrimae rerum

That’s all for now ducks! I just finished An Enchantment of Ravens so keep your eyes out for that review soon. For now, have a great weekend!
~ Mon

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