Monday, March 28, 2005

Books of '05: Cloud Atlas

I finished Cloud Atlas and I have to admit that while enjoying the novel all the way through it fell flat by the end. Mitchell is a genius it seems. I had a great time reading the book, it challenged the way a novel can be put together but in its complexity lay its downfall. With six stories spanning hundreds of years and the entire globe its hard to have a climax. Any way you slice them these are six strong short stories all able to stand on their own. As a group they certainly do blossom into an enjoyable and praise worthy book. But this structure became jarring in the second half.

In interviews Peter Jackson tells that the reason he left Frodo's battle with Shelob out of the second movie even en though it was the climax of the second book was because having more than one emotionally charged moment will leave them both flat. Cloud Atlas is the same. (As much as I loved the LOTR films I cringe at making that comparison but its all I could think of and it fits. Tolkein chose playing the two stories independently as two separate books within the same volume.) The intensity of all six storylines is lost completely.

Overall I loved this book. I thought the characters engaging and dynamic. It was the experiment in structure that disappointed me but I still recommend.

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