Sunday, May 13, 2012

Cloud Atlas

I'm still not entirely sure whether or not I actually liked David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas. Perhaps that makes sense, as the novel is really a series of connected but highly different stories, nestled like Russian dolls within each other. It's like Oklahoma weather - if you don't like it right now, just wait a few minutes and it will change.

When I first started reading, I had a hard time getting into it. I rarely like sea stories, and that's how it starts out - on a boat. The next section features a musician who finds a diary of a sailor, the excerpt from the first section. Then things started picking up. I loved the interconnectedness of all the sections, seeing how things happened across time, not being sure of what actually happened and what's fiction. I thought this was an original way to tell a story and like playing around with the different forms and styles.

The problem is, I still felt like something was missing. I think several of the stories could have been more interesting. Sometimes it felt like Mitchell was trying too hard to be clever and wasn't overly concerned about things making sense or being remotely logical. I'm having a hard time pinpointing exactly what was wrong, but too much of the time I was more focused on how Mitchell was trying to be clever rather than focusing on the characters or the story or the ideas. I had a hard time sinking into the story, and even though the plot really isn't the point, this bugged me because the whole thing just felt forced.

I'm interested in seeing how this will be made into a movie. That seems like quite a challenge, and I'm not sure if it will translate well on film. I think it will still be worth seeing, just like the book was worth reading even though I ended up with mixed thoughts on the book.

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