Monday, October 29, 2012

Cloud Atlas

By David Mitchell (not the comedian).

I bought this novel when I saw some of the enthusiasm being posted about it online. The book has been adapted by the Wachawoski siblings and will be in the cinema's soon and I thought that if the book was as good as the literary reviews indicated then better to have read it first and so not be contaminated by the film.

As it turns out however, the book isn't really that great. Average at best. The story is divided into multiple short stories with each occuring a few generations after the previous, and with some details that connect each story with the the others, but which fail to create anything that resembles an overall story arc. Each story ends before it is begun, and the next story begins, so the reader travels through time, via a series of unfinshed tales, until suddenly an event in each story arc triggers the second half of each story, and so the reader then moves back through time. This, I think, is meant to be profound, but given how most of the stories lend heavily from notable works of fiction (Bladerunner, The China Syndrome, Brideshead Revisited) the time travel idea struck me as a mere gimmick.

It will be interesting to see whether or not the Wachowski's can do anything with 'Cloud Atlas', but given their previous work, I suspect they have their own reasons for choosing this novel to adapt, and they won't have anything particularly interesting to say either.

 The trailer for the upcoming film can be seen here.

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