Cloud Atlas- David Mitchell
I found it quite difficult to get into at first, and I think that I stand by that. The first few sections weren’t necessarily my sort of thing, but I powered through on the basis that the characters were interesting and the writing good. My notes say that at first I thought that it was difficult to find a conclusive meaning in each section, which I actually now think was the point. You had to read the entire novel in order to glean the message, which may still be a difficult to establish. I think it’s one of those books that you have to think about for a little while after finishing it.
There’s a lot going on in this novel. Almost too much to wrap my head around, and almost too much to comprehend all of the things that I thought about when I was reading it and writing my notes. I liked how it explores the line between fiction and reality. We’re told a thing, only to find out later that it is just a mystery novel for example. It asks us to look at history and who it is told by- I think. There is a discussion about the nature of humanity and how it is inevitable that some of us, most of us, will be a bit shit. It covers things like slavery, censorship, consumerism, cloning, genetic mods, religion and free will. Humanity, it seems, will always exploit those it sees as weak/different/less intelligent, and has always done so. The journal of Ewing shows us the history of colonialism, and the exploitation of native Polynesian people, and then the interview with Sonmi-451 shows us how when it was no longer socially acceptable to exploit people; they just created a new lower-class to exploit.
There was the element of the Comet shaped birthmark, which seemed a like a slightly clumsy attempt to draw a narrative between the multiple characters throughout the novel and time. It didn’t seem to make much sense and I’m not sure why it was there. Maybe there’s a significance to it that I’m missing, but it seems to just be a little clumsy to me.
My favourite parts were An Orison of Sonmi~451 and Sloosha’s Crossin’ an’ Ev’rythin’ After. I liked the way that they were integrated very well with each other and how you could see how Sonmi influenced the future. It showed the cyclic nature of life and how the word will keep repeating these patterns of destruction and creation.
Overall I liked it a lot, but it might take a second reading to really wrap my head around all of the elements and figure it all out.
Side note: I liked the element of rebirth and Buddhism. I liked that it fed into the religion in Sloosha and how the religion itself evolved over time in the heads of people who gathered and took different things from the original religion and made it into something new.
The Power- Naomi Alderman
This is our February book club pick, so there was a lengthier post about it yesterday. (click here)
I will leave the blurb here:
She throws her head back and pushes her chest forward and lets go a huge blast right into the centre of his body. The rivulets and streams of red scarring run across his chest and up around his throat. She’d put her hand on his heart and stopped him dead.
It starts with a tingling in the fingers, a feeling of focus, of a change in the rhythm of the world, a pricking of the thumbs.
Power is everywhere, it is under our feet, it circles around the cities and towns we have made our homes. We gather it and order it and make it flow from the centre outwards in a network like veins, pulsing with an electric heartbeat that keeps things functioning just as they always have. Yet power transfers and the time is coming for it to change hands.
What if the power to hurt were in women’s hands?
Exploring the concepts of gender, hierarchy and power, The Power is an ingenious and masterfully crafted piece of feminist science fiction as well as a searing indictment of our contemporary world.
Lost at Sea- Bryan Lee O’Malley
I thought that this was good. As I said last month, I’m not a huge reader of graphic novels and so I’m still not sure what I’m talking about when I talk about them, but I will still talk about my thoughts and opinions on them. I liked the story, and very much appreciated what it was trying to do, but it does have an anti-climactic end. I think that’s the point. It’s not supposed to be satisfying or uplifting, it’s supposed to be truthful and subtle. It is subtle, and good, but I do feel as though it was lacking something. As I say, I’m not a good critic here, I can’t say what it is that’s missing, but I just feel like there was. In contrast to Snotgirl, I don’t think that this is one that I will want to buy. It seems to me that it feels a little juvenile, trying too hard to be meaningful, when it’s message is that nothing is meaningful. Maybe I’m missing something amazing about this, but I just don’t think that this one is for me.
A note on the art style: I liked it. I think that I wouldn’t have picked it up if I didn’t like the art style. Whilst the story is important and the main part of whether I find a graphic novel satisfying or not, the art is the main reason that I pick them up. If I don’t like the art style, I don’t really see the point in reading it as the art is half of the enjoyment of graphic novels. I liked that it was simplistic and clean, which matched the story style too.
Clicky click. I talk about Harry Potter!