Editor's Note: The following is the first in a new blog series discussing various novels recently read by the editor.
Imagine a soul traveling through various lives at different points throughout the past, present and future. Now imagine that whatever that person does in one life has effects on what happens in the next, and so on.
The notion, based on the age-old belief of karma and reincarnation, is essentially the theme of David Mitchell's acclaimed novel "Cloud Atlas," a work which was recently adapted and released as a film, and can currently be seen in theaters.
I've had the book on my shelf for months, maybe longer, and it was actually that trailer that prompted me to pick up. I knew this was one of those book-to-film adaptations I had to see, but one I couldn't attempt to see until I'd read the novel first.
The novel comprises six stories that layer upon one another, interweaving from one life to the next and spanning from the 1800s to an advanced future to a post-apocalyptic future. It's a compelling read, told from various viewpoints and in changing tenses.
The film itself is actually a very solid adaptation, and stays rather true to the novel (save for a few trivial tangents as seen in many book-to-film adaptations). Having reportedly received a 10-minute standing ovation at the Toronto Film Festival, the film received mixed reviews after being released in theaters, with critics like Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, saying it wasn't able to reach the ambition directors Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer had set for it.
Certainly an entertaining film, overall, I'd recommend that anyone going to see it to read the book first. It's a fantastic read, and will, hopefully, give those interested in the film a bit of an understanding as to what is going on.
In a recent recent review on The Huffington Post, Lindsay Edmunds offers an alternative piece of advice for grasping the film's point:
To understand Cloud Atlas, look at the way things happen in life. Helpful or harmful actions birth other helpful or harmful actions, which birth other actions, and so on forever. Some of you know about this; most you will never know.
I'm interested to see what folks have to say about the film and the novel. If you're willing to take the journey, let me know what you think of either in the comments section below.