Review of ‘Cloud Atlas’ by David Mitchell

Continuing my series of book reviews for writers. I stayed in bed this morning and finished reading ‘Cloud Atlas’ by Douglas Mitchell. I nearly didn’t finish it. It is a long book, parts are very boring and some of the characters are not worth the time it takes to get to know them. I think Mitchell is someone who likes to hear himself talk, and talk he does. Sometimes I think editors are afraid to tell famous writers they should condense or ‘edit’ their work, and I think Mitchell falls into this class. He has written 80 books. That’s a clue. Maybe slow down, write and rewrite a bit.
This is a plot-driven novel rather than character driven, and the plot jumps all over the place. It was hard to find a single character I empathized with. And none really grew or learned anything in the story. I didn’t ‘experience’ anything with the characters, but just watched them act out the plot.
There is a section in the middle of the book where the characters speak with what is supposed to be a dialect, but it comes across as an annoying affectation, speaking for pages and pages on end about goats. God, give me strength.
This would be the major knock on the book, the long passages of ‘Reader, look at me.’ Yes, you write beautiful prose. Your point? Prose that reads like writing needs to be re-written.
I wont read another book by him.
He finally wraps the book with some concise decency, railing for a better world, and it almost redeemed the 944 pages of side show. Almost.
Tom Hanks has a movie out based on the book. It takes less than three hours to watch. That would be my recommendation. On second thought no. The movie cost $100 Million to make, and flopped, bringing in less than $10M. I assume the movie had the same issues as the book.
I am torn between two stars and three. Two I think. I hate to give ones.