Tag Archives: David Mitchell

Challenge Update, October 2016

1 Nov

For a while, it looked like this month was going to be a bust but the last week had a lot of long books finish off for me thankfully. It was a good month overall, nothing to complain about here! I wasn’t expecting a lot because of school so I’m pleasantly surprised. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in October:

Slade House // David Mitchell
Still Alice // Lisa Genova
Call Me Zelda // Erika Robuck
The Book of Lies // Brad Meltzer (review to come)

Not bad for a busy month! Thank the lord for audio and there will be even more of it in November while I go through NaNoWriMo.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

11/12
This is my challenge to read a book from 12 different time periods. You can read about it here. I’m getting down to crunch time. I’ve got to get this 1600s book read! Does anyone have suggestions? Preferably one on audio? Anything?

Goodreads Challenge

42/45
Soooo close! I’m not at all scared of failing this one and I’ll take my time getting through some long titles in the coming months.

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

Book of the Month

Because it’s October, Slade House by David Mitchell is an obvious choice. It was perfect for my book club to talk about this month, too. It’s short, spooky, and nothing like Cloud Atlas.

Added to my TBR

For the third month in a row, I only added one! I’m down to 124 now and I’m super proud of myself. So close to breaking 100 and how that I’m allowing myself some more audio, that will come down even faster.

  • The Birthday Boys by Beryl Bainbridge. I got offered a free copy of the ebook and took it! I’ve read two other Bainbridge novels and enjoyed both. She has a great brief style and always makes you pay attention or you’ll miss something important! I’m looking forward to this one.

How are your challenges going? I hope you’re killing it. If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge, it’s fun!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Club Reflection: Slade House by David Mitchell

13 Oct

The day after I finished reading David Mitchell’s Slade House, my book club met to discuss it. As much as I don’t like pushing it to the last minute, it’s nice to have it fresh in my head. I realized only after finishing it that it’s set in the same world as one of Mitchell’s other (much lengthier novels) The Bone Clocks. One reader in our group had read both and said they were both enjoyable.

As always, our moderator gave us some great background on the book. This is Mitchell’s seventh novel and several of his have been shortlisted for the Man Booker award. He currently lives in Ireland and we wondered if the Irish folklore had influenced his writing of this novel, dealing with reincarnation and dueling beings across generations. Like Nathan in the first story, Mitchell has an autistic son.

Many liked the short story format, something I wasn’t completely fond of. Nathan’s story was the most confusing for us because of the location jump to Africa seemingly randomly and having an autistic narrator who was hard to follow. After that, they seemed to flow better. I thought it was wrong that Norah narrated the last story, but someone pointed out how the victim always narrated and in the final story, Norah was the victim. That convinced me and now I think it’s genius to have Norah narrate at the end. Yay for book clubs.

Horror is a genre where books are generally more plot driven than character driven but this title had a lot of character development. Each of the characters had his or her weakness exploited to make him or her vulnerable. They would have their desires fulfilled just to be ripped away from them. Nathan had a friend and saw his dad, Gordon had a woman lusting after him, Sally had a by crushing on her, and both Freya and Marinus were getting answers they had searched out for so long. We noticed that, except for Marinus, the characters all thought they were at least slightly intoxicated. Maybe that was the effect of the banjax.

We thought of the number of victims there must have been prior to Nathan. If that was 1979, then we’re looking at likely victims in 1970, 1961, 1952, and 1943. Nathan sees them we realized; the girl in the pinafore, the soldier, the pinched lady in the hat, the man in his 20s, and the woman whose ghost he’d seen. That’s four times and five victims. Maybe they had to kill to create the orison? Or is one of them Norah or Jonah? I’m only realizing this now so I didn’t have time to ask my book club. Thoughts?

There were a lot of things that showed up through the novel that were only slightly explained. I missed that the hairpin Sally got was from Nathan, now I see that. The Fox and Hounds shows up over and over and must be a place the Greyer twins were familiar with. The jogger in neon showed up over and over as well and was never explained. We wondered if it might be Jonah directing the victims toward the ally. There were things from other Mitchell novels as well. I recognized Spyglass magazine from Cloud Atlas and another reader recognized Marinus and the Chetwynd family from other books as well.

There were a few things that made us scratch our heads. The first was why the soulless bodies of past guests would care to interfere in later times. Was it revenge or were they saving others? Either way, could they do this without a soul? We didn’t understand why they got physical bodies anyway. How would a soulless ghost grasp a hairpin? We didn’t get it. We were also a little lost with Gordon’s story. It seems that he was the only one who went to the house and was able to leave again. Why was he able to do that?

One of my issues with the book was the info dump in Freya’s story. Some others didn’t mind the story and we agreed it made the twins much less frightening. Some wondered if the story Fred told was all lies when we found out it wasn’t really him.

Our member who had read The Bone Clocks explained that her character had shown up in that book as well. She gave us some details about the character that I won’t go into detail here so as not to ruin another book. I do, however, want to talk about the ending so if I haven’t ruined Slade House for you yet, please finish reading here. Bye! Anyway, the ending. We debated if Marinus let Norah get away or if Norah managed to escape. It seemed obvious there was something darker in Norah that was more than what had been bound by Norah’s physical body. But did Marinus think she’d destroyed it or was Marinus outplayed? We couldn’t decide.

It was, as always, a great discussion. We’re reading Stiff by Mary Roach next and I think it will be a good one for discussion.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 12-October-2016

12 Oct

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


stillaliceCurrently reading: I read just a little bit of In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. I was hoping it would be more, but I think it was two chapters. Not too impressive.
Still on hold with World Without End by Ken Follett. I now have two people in front of me in line. I hope none of them end up checking it out!
I ended up carpooling to my conference over the weekend so I didn’t listen to much of The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer this week. I try to have it on in the car as much as possible but I’ll probably struggle to get through it. I have it on eaudio as well so if I finish my other book, I’ll pick this one up in that format.
I’ve made moderate progress with Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck, mostly from my runs. It’s not my favorite so far but I’m enjoying it enough. We’ll see how this goes.
I started  Still Alice by Lisa Genova on Sunday night. It seems like it will be a fast read so I’m hoping to get through it well before my book club meets.

Phew! What a list.

slade-houseRecently finished:I got through Slade House by David Mitchell on Friday and my review went up on Monday. I liked it more than I thought I would and it actually makes me want to read more Mitchell! I know, shock! After Cloud Atlas, I never thought that would happen. My book review went up on Monday so go check it out!

My book review of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz went up last Thursday. I enjoyed the book a lot so go check out my review. It got 4 out of 5 Stars from me.

stiffReading Next: My book club’s next pick is Stiff by Mary Roach. I’ll see if I can eaudio this one and maybe read a ‘for fun’ book from my TBR! It’s been a while since I knocked one of those out!


I have a class after work Wednesdays through November so please be patient with me due to delayed responses. I’m checking as often as I can.

Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: Slade House by David Mitchell (4/5)

10 Oct

I was very skeptical of this book. After my bad experience with Cloud Atlas, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this (thankfully) shorter novel. But, a shorter length is encouraging this time of year with me so busy with school so I jumped in. I have a lot of thoughts so keep reading!

Cover Image via Goodreads

Cover Image via Goodreads

Slade House by David Mitchell

Other books by David Mitchell:

Cloud Atlas (and movie review)

Summary from Goodreads:

Down the road from a working-class British pub, along the brick wall of a narrow alley, if the conditions are exactly right, you’ll find the entrance to Slade House. A stranger will greet you by name and invite you inside. At first, you won’t want to leave. Later, you’ll find that you can’t. Every nine years, the house’s residents—an odd brother and sister—extend a unique invitation to someone who’s different or lonely: a precocious teenager, a recently divorced policeman, a shy college student. But what really goes on inside Slade House? For those who find out, it’s already too late. . . .

Spanning five decades, from the last days of the 1970s to the present, leaping genres, and barreling toward an astonishing conclusion, this intricately woven novel will pull you into a reality-warping new vision of the haunted house story—as only David Mitchell could imagine it.

There were parts of this book I wasn’t ready for. I didn’t realize Mitchell wove his books together so having elements of Cloud Atlas (Spyglass magazine in particular) were weird to me at first. I’ve read elsewhere that this book takes place in the same universe as The Bone Clocks so I’m going to push for that to be my group’s creepy read next year. Like Cloud Atlas, this book was several stories that wove together to create a novel and I thought the transitions were much more fluid and connected in this title than they were in Cloud Atlas. I liked how the characters were all connected to each other and how we slowly learned what was going on with the house. I was super creeped out reading this before bed at the beginning but by the end of the novel, when I better understood what was happening, I was less nervous about having nightmares.

Most of the time I watch a horror movie, I think ‘Why would you do that?’ of the characters. I felt that the guests at Slade House acted in a logical way about 95% of the time. When Gordon went to the room at the top of the stairs, he lost me. Before that and after it, I thought everyone was pretty logical. It was refreshing and somewhat terrifying. If they acted logically and still fell into the trap, would this snare any logical person?

Sally was my favorite. I thought her story seemed really likely. She had a crush on a boy who liked her back and got sucked into something while chasing something that made her feel good. She got a lot of crap from the other ParaSoc members but she seemed to have her head on her shoulders. Plus, she stabbed Jonah, which was awesome.

I felt Freya was really determined and I related to her on that front. Nine years after her sister passed, she’s back in England chasing down a man who might know something and is determined to find out what happened. She was dedicated and curious, too. It was a good combination in a protective older sister.

David Mitchell Image via YouTube

David Mitchell
Image via YouTube

I liked Sally’s story best. By that point, I had a slightly better idea of what was happening but could still enjoy the mystery of what was happening. Nathan and Gordon’s stories were confusing to me and Freya’s explained too much and I didn’t like the POV switch at the end.

I disliked Nathan’s story most. It was so confusing knowing nothing about Slade House and having it through the eyes of an autistic child. I was scared I wouldn’t like the book after that first chapter but I ended up enjoying the rest of it a lot more.

I’m not sure if there is a good theme to talk about for this book. Don’t trust strangers seems the most likely, but I don’t like that as a theme so I’m going to refuse to use it. I think the book was meant to frighten me and it did that. I’m not really sure it had much of a message, only entertainment value.

Writer’s Takeaway: I had minor quibbles with this book overall. Though Mitchell avoided an info dump at the beginning, the one in Freya’s chapter was almost unreadable to me. It was really long and, I thought, overly detailed. I also didn’t like the POV switch at the end, it seemed like a cheat to give a twist ending when I think the twist could have been done another way. Mitchell seems to like the short-story novel format and I’m not a fan, but it works for him. I don’t know if I could write it, but maybe that’s why I’m not famous.

Enjoyable despite minor complaints. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Not a Review of David Mitchell’s New Novel *Slade House* | University of Wisconsin Press
‘It’s a good place to start with this author’ – Slade House by David Mitchell | Bookmunch
Review: Slade House by David Mitchell | William Shaw
Book Review | In Which David Mitchell’s Slade House Teaches Me Something About Myself | One More Page…

WWW Wednesday, 5-October-2016

5 Oct

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Before I start, know my mid-term is this evening after work so I probably won’t get to you all until tomorrow! So sorry.

bookofliesCurrently reading: I think I read one page of In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. Yeah, it’s been a slow week for that. We’ll see what the next few weeks hold but I’m not too hopeful this will be a quick one.
Still on hold with World Without End by Ken Follett.
I still haven’t read much of Slade House by David Mitchell. It’s a little creepy so far which is always good for a fall book. It’s not reminding me of Cloud Atlas at all which is a good sign!
I started a new audiobook in the car which is The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer. This is a book where I own a signed copy and I’m very strict about my signed books leaving the house, so I thought it might be better to listen to it rather than limit myself traveling with it so much. I have a long car ride coming this weekend so I hope to get through a lot of it then.
But I still needed an audiobook on my phone so I started Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck. I feel weird about this one because I own the physical book but my shelf is so big that I feel like I’m never going to tackle it without resorting to audio on a few of these. It still feels weird.

aristotleRecently finished:I really enjoyed Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. It was just the YA break I needed from the serious literature and non-fiction I’ve been reading. It was fun and I really enjoyed it! Review coming soon.

My review of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot went up last Thursday. I enjoyed the book a lot and was already able to discuss it with my book club. That post went up yesterday. I gave it Four out of Five stars.

stillaliceReading Next: The plan is still for Still Alice by Lisa Genova. I might squeeze another audiobook or two in before I start it. Or maybe I’ll listen to it on audio! I’ll figure something out.


I have a class after work Wednesdays through November so please be patient with me due to delayed responses. I’m checking as often as I can.

Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 28-September-2016

28 Sep

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


aristotleCurrently reading: I made some minor progress on In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson during my lunch breaks. I just passed 60% so maybe another two months? Haha. It’s really good, don’t get me wrong!
On hold with World Without End by Ken Follett.
I needed a new audiobook and I decided to give Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz a try. I’ve seen a lot of wonderful things about this book on others’ posts and I need some YA in my life. Great so far, I’m really loving it.
I finally started Slade House by David Mitchell. No opinion on if I like it yet. I’m hoping to speed through this one and make a little time for a book of my choice off my shelves. We’ll see if life will let that happen.

Henrietta LacksRecently finished: I finished The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot just in time for book club! I finished it Sunday night and we meet Mondays. Phew! I really enjoyed the story and I’ll have a review of it up tomorrow!
SuperFreakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner was also a win for me. I loved the first one and this was equally enjoyable. My post went up yesterday so check that out and let me know if you had to suddenly go out and buy it.

stillaliceReading Next: I’m going to get a jump-start on my next book club book. We’re reading Still Alice by Lisa Genova. I’m a little iffy on this book because it seems like it might be really sad and I don’t want sad! Fingers crossed the ending doesn’t make me cry.


I have a class after work Wednesdays through November so please be patient with me due to delayed responses. I’m checking as often as I can.

Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 21-September-2016

21 Sep

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


superfreakonomicsCurrently reading: Again, nothing with In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson this week. The fall is ridiculously stressful for me with school and my husband going back to work and coaching. I haven’t had the spare moments to pick this up and it’s really showing.
On hold with World Without End by Ken Follett.
I’m really loving The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Skloot writes a great narrative and I’m not minding the jumps back and forth in time as much as I thought I would. I hope to finish this up this week but it’s a bit longer than I think I can manage. We’ll see what happens.
Not surprisingly, I’m in love with SuperFreakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. Just like the first book, I’m constantly going ‘WHAT?!’ in my car while listening. I got a coworker to listen with me while driving back from a job fair and I think I hooked him. Win.

Recently finished: Nothing this week! I’m plugging along after finishing two last week. I did post a review of Boy, Snow, Bird by  Helen Oyeyemi last Thursday. Go give that a look and I hope to have more up soon.

slade-houseReading Next:  Slade House by David Mitchell is on my bedside table so I’m eagerly awaiting it. One of you gave me a negative review of it last week so I’m nervous but I’m hoping that because it’s shorter I have a chance. Fingers crossed.


I have a class after work Wednesdays through November so please be patient with me due to delayed responses. I’m checking as often as I can.

Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 14-September-2016

14 Sep

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Henrietta LacksCurrently reading: Total fail on reading In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson this week. I haven’t had a lot of chances to read on my phone. No doctor’s appointments or a lot of waiting this week. I’m not worried, this book is good whenever I get back to it.
Still waiting for World Without End by Ken Follett. None too pleased but being patient.
I’ve just begin The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. It’s too soon to say much but I’m hoping this lives up to the hype I’ve gotten around it.
I needed to grab another audiobook and I decided on SuperFreakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. I listened to the first one two or three years back and I’ve been excited ever since I heard that there’s a sequel out there. I’m pumped to get further on this one.

BoySnowRecently finished: Two done! The first is Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi which I finished Saturday evening. I liked it enough, but I found the ending really disappointing. My book club met on Monday to talk about it so expect a book club reflection early next week. I gave the book Three out of Five stars.
I also finished The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo on Friday. This book feel really flat for me. I got a few good organizing tips from it and I’ve started throwing out a lot of things and putting some clothes in my ‘donate’ pile if I don’t wear them a lot or at all. So I guess I got something out of it and I gave it Two out of Five Stars. My review went up yesterday so check that out.

slade-houseReading Next: My next book club book will be Slade House by David Mitchell. I’m a little nervous about this one. This is the same author who wrote Cloud Atlas and those of you who have been around here for a while might remember my long battle with that book. I’m glad this one is much shorter and I’m told it’s a Halloween-ish feeling book so I’m looking forward to that.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

‘Cloud Atlas’ Movie- Possibly as trippy as the book

12 Jan
Poster image via starpulse.com

Poster image via starpulse.com

To be perfectly honest, I never wanted to read this book, I just wanted to see the movie. But, being me, I pushed myself through the book and seven months later, rewarded myself with the movie. It’s been a long time since I watched a movie adaptation so soon after finishing a book, but I needed the gratification after plowing through because I’d forgotten so much of the book. The movie helped bring it back to life and I think it was (at least for me) an improvement because of the format the filmmakers chose.

Things I Thought Were Awesome

Costumes and makeup. I was only slightly aware of the makeup mastery in this movie before I watched it. But seeing Hugo Weaving as Nurse Noakes and Doona Bae as Tilda were amazing. It would take me a while to recognize some of the actors, particularly Jim Broadbent as Captain Molyneaux and Hugh Grant as the Kona chief. It was awesome watching them play different roles.

Hearing the Cloud Atlas Sextet. Hearing the music Vyvyan and Robert were working on was so much better than hearing them talk about it. You can’t convey music in the same way in writing as you can on-screen.

Changes That Didn’t Really Bother Me

Skipping around between stories. I found this a lot easier to follow than the book’s format where I would forget what was happening by the time I got back around to the stories. By skipping from one to another, I saw all the connections between the characters and their stories unfolded together.

Sonmi’s time at the university. This was a huge chunk of the story I struggled over for a few days because I was so uninterested in it. I’m glad it didn’t find its way to film.

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

Things That Were Taken Out and I’m Still Wondering Why

Eva. She was such a large part of Frobisher’s end and not seeing her did help focus his story on the music and less on his romantic conquests. Frobisher’s emotional romantic entanglements were part of what made him interesting and I’m sad Eva didn’t make an appearance.

The language in Sonmi’s Korea. With how much I struggled to understand Zachry’s pidgin English, why couldn’t we add some of the awesome changes from Sonmi’s English? I wanted to hear about nikes and fordparks more than I wanted to know what was ‘for true-true.’ (I can’t think of a place to put this, but the English in Zachry’s story was so bad we had to put English subtitles on to understand it.) I thought it was one of Mitchell’s best changes to Sonmi’s time and I missed it.

Things That Changed Too Much

Having Ewing tell his father-in-law he’s going to become an abolitionist. Where did this come from? It was a much more positive ending to Ewing’s story and it made me like him after hating him so much through what I thought was the most boring story. Ugh.

Zachry ending up on another planet. Did I miss this, too? Honestly, I remember he was going with Meronym but nothing about moon grandchildren or whatever. Was that supposed to be the ultimate path for the soul to take? Leaving Earth? I’m struggling here.

Now that I’ve finally seen it I’m so relieved. Reader, have you see the Cloud Atlas movie? What did you think?

Until next time, write on.

Book Review: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (2/5)

7 Jan

As many of you know, I’ve been reading this book for a long time. A really long time, like seven months or something crazy. I picked it up on my phone as an ebook to read when I was bored, waiting for something, etc. I don’t think this is a book that’s read well in that style. The plots were spaced so far apart it was hard to keep them straight and it was easy to miss the connections between the plots if you weren’t paying attention because the kid next to you at the chiropractor was adorable and distracting. Might I have enjoyed this book more as an audio or physical book? Possibly. Do I care to find out? No.

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Summary from Goodreads:

Cloud Atlas begins in 1850 with Adam Ewing, an American notary voyaging from the Chatham Isles to his home in California. Along the way, Ewing is befriended by a physician, Dr. Goose, who begins to treat him for a rare species of brain parasite. . . . Abruptly, the action jumps to Belgium in 1931, where Robert Frobisher, a disinherited bisexual composer, contrives his way into the household of an infirm maestro who has a beguiling wife and a nubile daughter. . . . From there we jump to the West Coast in the 1970s and a troubled reporter named Luisa Rey, who stumbles upon a web of corporate greed and murder that threatens to claim her life. . . . And onward, with dazzling virtuosity, to an inglorious present-day England; to a Korean superstate of the near future where neocapitalism has run amok; and, finally, to a postapocalyptic Iron Age Hawaii in the last days of history.

But the story doesn’t end even there. The narrative then boomerangs back through centuries and space, returning by the same route, in reverse, to its starting point. Along the way, Mitchell reveals how his disparate characters connect, how their fates intertwine, and how their souls drift across time like clouds across the sky.

I’m glad I read the summary of this book before diving into it. I think I would have been beyond confused if I hadn’t had an inkling of what was going to happen when I picked it up. The stories were all very different, which was a blessing and a curse. Mitchell used very  different styles for each and it helped them not blend together as I was reading. The curse was that I disliked the styles in a few of them (Ewing the most) and was waiting to get back to others so I could read the stories I liked the most (Luisa). I think it was an ambitious book and I congratulate Mitchell on finishing it, but I was overwhelmed by the scope of it and I think it was a bit much.

It’s hard to comment on the characters in Mitchell’s future worlds and how accurately they were written, but I really enjoyed the present and past characters. Frobisher was particularly fun to read and probably my favorite character. He was very single-minded and very complex. I liked how he was writing these very open letters to Sixsmith about who he loved and how sad he was, all the while telling Sixsmith that he loved him. It seemed backward but it made sense at the same time. Luisa was a powerful female and the book needed one. I liked her drive and determination even when the men around her didn’t believe in her.

I’ll say definitely that Frobisher was my favorite. He wasn’t afraid of anything and it made for really fun adventures. He found his way to the house of a man he respected and then made love to his wife. Then he tells the man he loves that in reality, he has feelings for their daughter. He challenges his patron on ownership of their music and runs away when he’s gotten what he needs from the relationship. He’s no moral example, but he’s a great character. His sections were easy enough to read though I still think Luisa and Cavendish’s were easiest to read.

With al of the wild adventures going on, I felt like Sixsmith was the most relatable. He was the only character I noticed who lived in two of the stories. Others were of course mentioned, but Sixsmith was an auxiliary character in two stories so I formed an attachment to him. He watched the action, he didn’t participate. That’s how I felt while reading this book. Some books pull you in and make you part of the fight, and in others, you watch from afar like Sixsmith did. I felt like him.

David Mitchell Image via YouTube

David Mitchell
Image via YouTube

The cliffhanger from the first part of Luisa’s story had me reading on as fast as I could to get back to her story. If you haven’t gathered it yet, I cared more about what happened to her than anyone else. Sonmi is almost completely unrelatable so that left Luisa as the only speaking female character I could form an attachment with. I was curious about what would happen with her story if she were dead. When I got bored in Zachry’s story, knowing I was going back to Luisa kept me going.

I struggled to read Zachry’s story. The pidgin English Mitchell used to write it was really hard to read quickly. I kept wanting to say it out loud to understand it better. It’s by far the longest section and having it read so slowly was my biggest struggle in the work. I was so distracted by the language that I missed a lot of the plot and how Old Georgie and Sonmi connected to the plot and what Meronym was really after. I was wishing to get back to Sonmi even though I thought the beginning of her story was really boring.

 

My understanding is that the comet birthmark shows us the connected souls in the journey through time. A person can live multiple times in multiple places, forms, genders, and lifestyles and that person is very different from the one that came before or will follow. I’m not sure I believe this or see the connection. I would think that my soul defines my moral compass if nothing else and I don’t see much of a connection between Frobisher and Cavendish and Zachry. Some are must more upstanding and driven than others. I would have understood better if the characters had been more alike but I don’t feel like they were all one soul.

Writer’s Takeaway: The extremely different styles Mitchell used for his characters was incredible. Some authors are unable to obtain that different style of voice across novels let alone within one. I think it takes a lot of talent to write the way Mitchell did and a lot of planning to create the plot he did. It seemed like six books by six different authors spliced and glued together, just as Mitchell intended it to be. Bravo.

Reading it as I did made the book hard to enjoy and I thought there were very dull parts of the story. Two out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

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