Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

cloud-atlas-book-coverI’ve finished reading the book. If you’ve read a few blogposts before this one, you’d know that my favorite movie for 2012 was Cloud Atlas.

And I really liked the book, but I love the movie.

It’s prolly because I rarely enjoy books if I’ve watched the movie version of it before reading it. Granted the movie does deviate from the book in a lot of ways. For example, the book has characters and substories that are not in the movie. Some of those characters were really great too. Eva comes to mind, that little bit about Rafael too.

A book uniquely showing how people’s lives are intertwined with each other’s, not only in the present, but even through time. It dabbles with the theory of reincarnation, and how we may go through many lives and make many choices– both good and bad. And all those choices determine the next story, or so it seems.

The book also has this message of reminding us of the results of our proclivity to amassing power, greed, corruption, pride, and prejudice to our fellow men. Inversely, it also shows us how to live better and meaningful lives by trying to make a difference. To go against the forces of evil and do good, however “minute” we are, likening our lives to “drops in the ocean” that is life.

What makes this book different (and maybe more challenging) is the way that it was written. It’s written as a series of ‘stories’ ranging from the time of the abolitionists to the far distant future (we’re talking after the apocalypse). It starts from the past, goes to the future, and ends in the past. And the stories connect by either a birthmark or a certain element or theme. Having watched the movie, I remember reading parts of his stories that were foreshadowing of certain parts of what I knew the next story would be of, and I found it brilliantly done.

cloud-atlas-movie-posterI really wished that I read the novel before the movie because I loved how the movie was just so “out there’ and “fast-paced” and I felt like the book didn’t have that, which isn’t really surprising because it’s a book, things are usually fleshed out more. But still, I expected it to be more “action-packed” reading especially in the Orison of Somni parts.

And common criticism of this book is that it fails to really convince the reader of its ‘moral lessons’ whether it be “we should be good” or “it’s wrong to hurt other people”. I think the movie was able to get those lessons across to me better and far more convincingly than the book. In some parts of the book I was going, “okay here comes the moral lesson.” Kinda predictable, but maybe that’s just me. I’ve never been a fan of someone (may it be a book or a film or aha! a person) explicitly telling me what I should think versus something I had to figure out for myself. And the movie needed a lot of figuring out to really understand and so there you go.

Another thing that I really loved about the movie that I found lacking in the book was the concept of true love and soul mates. Although there are certain parts of the book that hint of this, it wasn’t really as apparent as it was in the movie. Actually, I think in the movie the concept of true love and soul mates was milked for all that it was worth. Hence, my tears. I’m a sucker for those things.

That said, I’ve got to give props to the people who worked on the film (and for me, you guys deserve Oscar nominationS.)

To end this, I really enjoyed this book. I would have probably liked it more IF I didn’t watch the movie first. I’m also counting it as book #1 in my FFP Diversity Challenge. We’re reading 25 different books of different genres, categories and formats. Cloud Atlas will be counted as my 1 Foreign Book Award winner, as it did win the British Book Awards Literary Fiction Award and the Richard & Judy Book of the Year award.

READ IT, and then watch the movie. 🙂

Oh, and there was a part/line that was almost Kurt Vonnegut-like for me because it was so funny! It’s my favorite line in the book.

Mr. Cavendish was lamenting about his life, things that he’s published, etc and he said,”Admire me, for I am a metaphor.” That line made me stop and laugh for a while. hehe! 🙂 Also, it wasn’t in the movie.


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