Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Audiobook Review: Cloud Atlas

Audiobook Review: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Narrated by Scott Brick, Cassandra Campbell, Kim Mai Guest, Kirby Heyborne, John Lee, Richard Matthews
Length: 19 hours and 33 minutes
Publisher: Random House Audio

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. 
This audiobook is available exclusively as an audio download!
Note to customers: The complicated format of this novel makes it seem that the audio may be cutting off before the end of a story, accompanied by a change in narrator. However, this is the author's intention, so please continue to listen, and the stories will conclude themselves as intended.

My Thoughts:
When I got to the end of Cloud Atlas, my first thought was that I must hear this wonderful novel all over again immediately to make sure I hadn’t missed anything.  I may even buy the book to experience it in a format that will allow me to go back and forth easier than the audio format will allow. The reason I chose Cloud Atlas is because I saw the movie trailer and wanted to hear the book first.  I have yet to see the movie but I’m looking forward to it.  I’m eager to see how they had to change the story to make the movie.  It could not have been easy. 

From Wikipedia: “A sextet is a formation containing exactly six members. It is commonly associated with vocal or musical instrument groups, but can be applied to any situation where six similar or related objects are considered a single unit.” 

So the novel itself is a sextet. There are six stories told in different styles and layered so that they are nested, each being interrupted in the middle and continued in reverse order in the last half of the book with the exception of the post-apocalyptic story of Zachary.  His story is told without interruption and is the center of the book.  Adam Ewing’s story is told in the form of journal entries during and after his voyage across the Pacific. Robert Frobisher, a young composer who has been disinherited from his family’s fortune, tells his story through letters to a friend in 1931.  Luisa Rey’s story is in the style of a modern fiction thriller. ­Timothy Cavendish’s story is told through his memoirs.  He is an aging British publisher who finds himself imprisoned in a nursing home. Somni-451’s futuristic story is told in the form of an interrogation while she is in prison for rebelling against the powerful Corpocracy.  All of these people are connected in some way but each story could stand on its own.  

My favorite was the story of Robert Frobisher, the young musician who composed the Cloud Atlas Sextet, a piece for six instrumental voices.  The arrangement of his sextet mirrors the order of the stories in the novel. 

 I loved Frobisher's short-hand style of writing, his dry humor and his musical metaphors.  He’s a resourceful young gentleman with a propensity for getting into trouble.  After being disinherited by his wealthy family and kicked out of school, he finds a way to keep a roof over his head and learn from a master composer.  My favorite Frobisher quote: “Whoever opined, “Money can’t buy happiness,” obviously had too much of the stuff.”

The narrators chosen for Cloud Atlas are absolutely perfect. Hearing the different voices, styles and accents adds much pleasure to the experience. 

I purchased Cloud Atlas with my monthly Audible credit and gave it a 5 star rating. 

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