Cloud Atlas by David Millar - (his third novel published in 2004).
David Millar’s Cloud Atlas is not a read for the feint hearted. It’s interesting in that it covers three genres, that of Science Fiction, Drama and Fantasy. There’s the hint of a parable in there too. It starts with Treasure Island and ends with Apocalypse, with some Jonathan Swift, James Joyce and Douglas Adams to mention just a few, in between
The main appeal of the book and certainly what kept me hooked was Millar’s use of language. It works on the mind as champagne bubbles work on the tongue, with sparkle, surprise and is intoxicating. It’s opening the bottle that’s the hard bit.
There is no plot to work through, you have to be ready and willing to be taken by the hand by the teller, relax, and be led trough the labyrinth of tales. Let the language wash over you; accept the images and situations presented.
The opening storyline has an adventurous, but slightly sinister tale of a voyage on the sea by a Dickensian character and his attentive doctor, but, be prepared for your six voyages – past present and future. None appear to be related, but there is an underlying challenge of watch, listen and learn, then when you don’t get a satisfactory answer, think it through yourself. You’ll have hours of fun, or perhaps tear your hair out.
There is some satisfaction at the end, but no real closure. The book made me think, very hard and concentrate very hard and I still didn’t understand it fully. If you want something deep, that will keep you awake and your mind ticking over, read it. If you want something to relax and send you to sleep, don’t.