Book & Movie Review: Cloud Atlas

We all love our books, and there are times we wish they could come to life on the big screen. Sometimes our wish comes true and those beloved stories soon hit theaters. Yet as excited as we are for the movie version to come to be they are not always good experiences. Perhaps a character is portrayed incorrectly, important scenes are left out or changed completely, or that wonderful story has been reduced to something with no plot but amazing CG effects. And then there are times when the movie is absolutely stunning and you are left with such an amazing feeling after watching it.

How I First Encountered Cloud Atlas

I have seen Cloud Atlas many times when perusing the shelves of the book store. I had picked it up many times to look it over but never quite got to the point where I told myself it was a book that I must buy and read, though it was one that I tucked away on my mental to-be-read list. It wasn’t until after the movie was made that I decided to finally get around to reading it, and even then it took almost two years before I got around to reading the book and watching the movie.

The Book

I found it slow at first and strange. Reading that first section, The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing, made me question how this book could possibly be considered science fiction, as this part seemed more historical fiction than anything else. Plus the section abruptly ended mid-sentence and didn’t return to this particular part of the story until 400+ pages later, where i picked up right where that sentence had been left off. I don’t understand the reason behind this but I found it truly annoying and question why a break in that particular story was put there. I ended up skipping to the end, which I know is not how you are supposed to approach the book, to read the remainder of that story before reading the rest of the book because I knew that by the time I reached that spot I would forget what had happened previously in Adam’s story and would be confused as to why things were starting up mid-sentence.

It was only when I got to the section, The Orison of Sonmi-451, that I got my first hint that maybe there was some sort of SciFi connection to this book. But even reading through this particular section I just didn’t feel like what I was reading was indeed SciFi and I found myself more disappointed than anything else.

The further in I got and the more I read of each story the less I ended up liking this book. I just couldn’t see the point to all these various stories and there seemed to be a lack of connection.  It got to the point where the only way I could bring myself to continue reading it was by merely skimming the pages in hopes of seeing something that would catch my attention and make me want to read the book. Sadly I never was pulled in by any of these various stories and in the end actually put the book down and decided to not finish it.

The Movie

The movie was strange and good at the same time. I kind of hated the way it jumped around from story to story and yet the way it was done made perfect sense and gave a connection between each of the stories. There was definitely a greater SciFi feeling for the book and this made me happy. The repeating actors fulfilling different roles in the movie between all the various stories was an interesting and neat way to do it, but I have to say that Haley Berry and Tom Hanks are just a weird onscreen couple and it made me shake my head as each of the various stories brought them together in some way.

Though almost three hours long the movie certainly didn’t drag things out, in fact I found the pace of everything to be very good and I think the shifting from one story to the other helped me keep my attention focused on everything going on. In the end I enjoyed the movie but I don’t think it’s something I would watch again. There’s not much else I can say about the movie since it didn’t really stick with me in the end.

How They Compare To Each Other

Well, considering that I didn’t finish the book, nor do I plan to do so even now after watching the movie, I think that the movie did a fairly good job of bringing the multiple stories to life. There were changes, but overall I didn’t notice all that many – at least when it came to the sections of the book that I did read. This is one of those rare cases where I actually enjoyed the movie much more than I did the book and I almost wish that I had only watched the movie. I don’t think I would recommend the book, but I would only recommend the movie to a select few who I feel would understand the movie for what it is. At least after watching the movie I get why that first section of the book cut off mid-sentence, but it doesn’t make it any less irksome to me as a reader.

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