I’m going to say the words that few book lovers ever utter. I completely understand if, from this moment on, no one ever trusts my judgement again. I can’t even trust my judgement anymore. But… *deep breath*
The movie was better than the book.
I know, I know! Blasphemy! But the fact still remains, the Wachowski siblings and Tykwer were able to pull it off where Mitchell mostly floundered. (Not that the movie was a cinematic masterpiece, but I feel like I “got” what they were trying to say more than Mitchell. Maybe I’m just dumb, so consul yourself with that fact, Mitchell, if you happen to find this review somewhere, since you are very adamant that that everyone is connected to each other, in a cricle, in a hoop, that never ends.) (That is the second time I brought a Disney song into one of my reviews.)
So, Could Atlas is about reincarnation and a butterfly beating its wings in China causing monsoons in Hawaii (everything is connected to Hawaii as well, although I’m not entirely sure why). It is really six stories in one, ordered like Russian nesting dolls. The first story is the journal of Adam Ewing has he crosses the Pacific to return to his home in San Francisco. The time period is 18-something, pre-Civil War. Ewing becomes ill from a tropical parasite living in his brain. The second story is about composer Robert Frobish, a bit of a bounder and conman. Frobish takes a position as secretary to a dying famous composer. The third is about journalist, Luisa Rey, who has the story of a lifetime dropped into her lap. Of course, the story comes with danger and several attempts on her life. For the fourth story, Timothy Cavendish, another bit of a bounder and also a publisher, gets suckered into signing his life away to a retirement home, around present day times. Fifth is the story of Sonmi-451, set in future South Korea. This story is probably my favorite, because I love dystopian sci-fi. It’s also the story that was most disappointing and better redeemed through the movie. The sixth is the tale of Zachry in post-apocalyptic Hawaii. Again, another story that fared better in the movie as by this time in the future, English has degraded to a pidgin sort of language, making it a slog to read through. And then the book works backwards to end each story.
The book is ambitious and adventurous, I’ll give it that. On a technical level, Mitchell is superb. Each story is a different genre and written a completely different style to separate them even further. But I feel in doing so, Mitchell sacrificed a bit of heart, making the characters more flat instead of giving them meat and bones in order to connect to the reader.