Mitchell has described his novels as “Lego-novels”, each chapter or sentence fitting into the others to make a greater structure. Cloud Atlas is the perfect example of a giant Lego ship made up from Lego blocks from different sets and collections.
Each chapter has different characters in different time periods: an American in the Pacific Islands in the 19th century; a young composer in Belgium in the 1930s writing letters to his lover; a female reporter investigating a scandal in Buenas Yerbas in the 70s; an editor running from mobsters in present day; a korean service robot/girl in a close future; a boy in a primeval wasteland, set in the distant future. Like nesting dolls, all these have certain interlocking elements, the littlest things that when you realize their existence make you feel very proud of yourself.
Each chapter is, deep down, a piece of genre fiction. From historical fiction to dystopian, Mitchell covers it all. It’s remarkable how he does it as if it were a completely different author. All throughout the book small, intricate details are featured, and the novel quickly achieves epic scope. It’s so good, I can’t even begin to do it justice.
As is bound to happen with these sort of books, there are always sections I enjoy more than others. For me, the middle section was very difficult to get through. It’s written in that weird accent that reminded me of southern-american speakers, and I always have a problem with reading accents in books.
The last couple of pages are amazing and beautiful, and this being my second Mitchell novel, I can safely say he has become one of my favourite authors.
Read from January 20th to February 9th, 2012.