I was mighty disappointed by this book. I had heard so much about it and it was one of the books I had been looking forward to reading so much. As usual in this case there are only two options: either I will like the book really really well, won't be able to stop reading, will read it in the shortest of times and be really sad once it's over. Or I won't like the book much, I will have to force myself to continue reading, will take quite long reading it and then be kind of glad once I've finished it. Cloud Atlas falls under the second option. I still enjoyed it but I had expected so much more.
Cloud Atlas has many aspects I enjoyed but there were also lots of points that made me want to put it down and not continue reading. There are six separate stories in this book. The book starts around 1850 with a diary of a lawyer travelling in the Pacific. This goes on for about 50 pages and then suddenly ends in the middle of the sentence. That was the first thing that put me off. The book continues with a composer fleeing from his creditors to Belgium. This story also ends at a certain point, at least not in the middle of the sentence this time. We move on to California in the 70ies, this time we witness the first half of a thriller. The next story is about an editor running away from self-appointed debt collectors and ending up in a home of the elderly he first thought to be a hotel. The next part is set in Korea about a 100 years from now and tells the story of a clone. Now we come to part 6, which is set in the distant future in a post-apocalyptic world. Here the narrative changes: for the first time a story is told until its end. Next, we're back with the Korean clone again. This story is now also finished and so we move back in time until the books ends with the end of the first story.
All six parts of the book are separate stories but they are connected anyway: The diary is found by the composer, in the thriller the composer's letters to his friend and also his last composition are found and the friend also is a character in the thriller, the thriller is a book the editor is working on, the editor's story is a movie in the clone's story, the clone is a goddess in the postapocolyptic world. Also some of the characters have a mole of the same shape which makes them seem to be reincarnations of one another.
I really enjoyed the way the different stories are interwoven. What I didn't like at all was that once I had finally gotten into a story it was already over and the next one was starting. In the second half of the book I had to remind myself once more what the first part had been about exactly. This got the more difficult the sooner I had read the first part. I hardly remembered anything from the first part, the diary.
I only found two of the stories fascinating or interesting, the clone and the editor. The thriller was too short and crowded to be very good. The post-apocalyptic story was good but I hated the language. The diary and the composer's story weren't very special and I didn't really get their points.
What also fascinated me was the language. Each part was told in a totally different language that really fitted the context. It was very old-fashioned in the diary, more modern in the parts set in the 20th/early 21st century, interspersed with neologisms in the clone's story and a gibberish in the post-apocalyptic story.