They say the best people in life give you books. By they, I mean me. You can win me over with books any day. Not only did my best friend give me a book last week which I reviewed the other day (here) but my boyfriend had since lent me The Cloud Atlas, which literally blew my mind.
Last night I wrote a blog post about a book hangover, which you can view here. If you hadn’t guessed already, it was induced by The Cloud Atlas. One nap and one mind map later, I am here to tell you why I felt all the emotions at once.
The first thing that makes this book stand out is the fact that there are six different stories. However, this is no collection of short stories, these are six CONNECTED stories. The stories are just as good isolated, as the references are subtle enough that it’s familiar and comforting, but the fact that there are these connections doesn’t take over the story itself. David Mitchell uses these six parts to tell stories across time, cultures and genres, and each character’s tale is thought provoking and important. There’s six people to get attached to, and everything falls together perfectly to create one story.
Here’s why. One of the most important themes in this story is the role of music, and how one character creates an iconic sextet which is almost mirrored in the structure. The Cloud Atlas Sextet focuses on six soloists, which makes it more poignant to me as a (sort-of) musician as you can see how they stand out yet also harmonise with the other sections. Oh man. EMOTIONS. There are connections with music and composition, but what I love about this book is the fact that you can become invested regardless of your interests. Everyone can think for themselves, right? You can also have an insight into the creativity process, and how it has no timeframe and no boundaries.
There’s also the emotional turmoil of experiencing six endings at once. It’s set out in two halves, so you read half of each story first then read the second half of each story. It sounds complicated but in reality it makes the stories fresh yet familiar at the same time. These stories are also written in a variety of styles, which could potentially confuse people, but overall it made it different and unique. It made me think, it was enlightening. What also makes you think are the issues that each story presents. Also the fact that the stories are written across different periods of time goes to show that problems with race, gender and justice don’t necessarily correlate with time.
As a result of the structure, you have very little time to deal with what you’ve just read because you’ve got more endings to finish, therefore at the end you’re sitting there questioning everything you’ve ever known. I’m still trying to organise my thoughts now. I’m not sure why this book has made such a large impact on me.
I need another nap. Or twelve.