Cloud Atlas

  • by David Mitchell
  • Narrated by Scott Brick, Cassandra Campbell, Kim Mai Guest, Kirby Heyborne, John Lee, Richard Matthews
  • 19 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From David Mitchell, the Booker Prize nominee, award-winning writer, and one of the featured authors in Granta's Best of Young British Novelists 2003 issue, comes his highly anticipated third novel, a work of mind-bending imagination and scope.A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan's California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified "dinery server" on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilization: the narrators of Cloud Atlas hear each other's echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changed in ways great and small.In his captivating third novel, shortlisted for the Booker Prize, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of language, genre, and time to offer a meditation on humanity's dangerous will to power, and where it may lead us.


Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: This is an ingenious novel composed of six embedded stories interconnected with subtle nuance and utter finesse. Brilliant prose, sharp social criticism, and six distinct narratives combine to make this a superb listen. The varying narrations provide unique tones and voices for each story, perfectly mimicking Mitchell's writing. I'd have given Mitchell the Booker Prize for this. —Chris Doheny


What the Critics Say

2005 Audie Award Nominee, Literary Fiction

"[Mitchell's] exuberant, Nabokovian delight in word play; his provocative grapplings with the great unknowables; and most of all his masterful storytelling: all coalesce to make Cloud Atlas an exciting, almost overwhelming masterpiece." (Washington Times)
"[Cloud Atlas] glows with a fizzy, dizzy energy, pregnant with possibility and whispering in your ear: listen closely to a story, any story, and you'll hear another story inside it, eager to meet the world." (The Village Voice)
"A remarkable book....It knits together science fiction, political thriller, and historical pastiche with musical virtuosity and linguistic exuberance: there won't be a bigger, bolder novel next year." (The Guardian)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

thoroughly enjoyed

Initially, I was concerned that I had made a mistake in choosing this book. Some of the reviews made me skittish and the first (of six) parts is quite difficult to listen to because of it's archaic language. In addition, this first part can make you worry that the book isn't going anywhere.
My patience was rewarded for the rest of the book however, and I include the very end-that picks up the tale of this first part again and is much easier to listen to 2nd time 'round.
The readers are all wonderful, but especially the reader of the sixth part. The sixth part also has strange language. But the reader is so good, that I was totally hooked by the second paragraph.
The overall plot was, at first, hard to find. The story is so temporally disorienting that I had to let go for a while and just enjoy the little subplots as they lay. I noticed little gems of connection and filed them away for later.
Then somewhere in the middle, revelation happened and I began to see Mitchell's point: Our past predicts our future, everything is cyclical and EVERYTHING is connected.
That which sails hopefully to an island paradise must later row from it in horror. (I promise that wasn't a plot spoiler in any way) These connections are perfectly nuanced and so finely finessed, that I didn't see them at first. (I suspect this was meant to be; by one of the finest writers of our time.)

I rarely read or listen to a book more than once but I am already looking forward to revisiting this again someday.
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- Elizabeth

Clever writing

This "novel" is really 6 short stories. The gimmick is that the second story starts in the middle of the first and the third starts in the middle of the second and so on. Only the sixth story is complete and then we get the finish of the fifth, fourth, third, second and first stories. The stories occur in the 1840s, 1930s, 1970s, present, 100+ years, 200+ years.

On one level, the author is making his philosophical point that mankind is inheritently greedy and willing to kill and enslave other humans. The ultimate result is a corpocracy that destroys everything as we see in the final two stories.

On another level is a great wordsmith who gives each story a different voice and even a different language while staying true to his message. In the second story, a composer writes to his physicist friend(see third story) that he has conceived a major work which he will call the "Cloud Atlas Sextette." Each of the six parts will be a different instrument and will be interrupted by the next part and finished in descending order by the remaining parts: 12345654321. The composer asks: Is this a conceit or genius? And each listener should probably ask the same question.

The readers are excellent and it is immediately clear which of the six stories is being read. There are a lot of interesting discussion issues raised by this book. I would buy it again but I imagine that many would not really enjoy it.
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- William R. Creech

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-23-2004
  • Publisher: Random House Audio