Study Guide

Cloud Atlas Tough-o-Meter

By David Mitchell


(7) Snow Line

In its review of Cloud Atlas, the New York Times called the novel "a deliberately difficult book." Wimps. We're up for the challenge.

This isn't so hard. Sure, we've got writing in the style of a 19th-century diary, untranslated passages of French, an immersive sci-fi world with futuristic technology and terminology, and a post-apocalyptic society with an English dialect so full of misspellings and apostrophes it's like reading a foreign language. And then just when you're getting to the good stuff, the story changes—new setting, new characters, new everything.

Okay, we give. This is hard. Why do we want to read this? Well, reading Cloud Atlas is a lot like climbing a mountain—which two characters in the book, Zachry and Meronym, actually do. What's at the top of their mountain journey? Knowledge. And that's what makes the climb to the top of Mount Cloud Atlas worth it. Don't worry. We're here to be your Sherpa to the summit. From the top, you might just look at the world in a different way.