Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell is one of my all-time favorite fiction reads. I’m going to start with a mild spoiler about the structure, so if you hate spoilers: stop reading, grab a copy, and enjoy.
“Cloud Atlas” has a fun structure with six stories, each in a distinct style, five of which lead up to the sixth, and then they’re each concluded in reverse chronological order. I particularly enjoyed the science fiction story, set in a dystopian near-future in which human clones known as fabricants do the jobs hapless consumers won’t. It’s fast-paced, clever, and challenging to sort out the twists. The same is true of the detective story, involving a cub reporter and her story on safety problems with the local nuclear power plant.
I love how Mitchell weaves the stories together. One common thread is musical. The fictional Cloud Atlas Sextet figures in all of the stories. It also serves as the basis of the structure of the book. Sometimes there are echoes from one story in another. There’s even something common to all of the protagonists, but to reveal its exact nature would be too much of a spoiler.
I’ve devoured Mitchell’s other work since reading Cloud Atlas, and I’ve enjoyed all of it. This was the first of his work that I encountered, and so it has a special place in my heart.