My wife and I enjoyed watching The Cloud Atlas in theater a few months back. It was visually impressive, and starred a lot of people I like, including Tom Hanks. So after we saw the film, my wife went on Amazon and ordered the book for my Christmas gift. When I opened the gift, I noticed the book cover was different than I expected. It had a white mountainous background and several devices hanging from large balloons.
Whatever. I was ready to read it.
About 75 pages into the book it occurred to me that none of these characters were in the movie. But hey, sometimes screenplays are quite a bit different than novels, right?
I started skimming through the book to see if the settings or characters changed. But they didn’t. So I looked on Amazon, and sure enough, there are two novels called The Cloud Atlas, both published in 2004, according to Amazon. I was reading the one by Liam Callanan instead of the one they based the movie on, written by David Mitchell.
The Liam Callanan novel is set in Alaska during World War II. The Japanese are making bombs, attaching them to balloons, and sending them over the Pacific Ocean. This actually happened. One of them landed here in Oregon. The story is about a young soldier assigned to the bomb disposal unit, his crazy commanding officer who is intimately attached to a mysterious woman who looks Japanese, but is actually part Russian and part Yupic (a people native to Alaska). What I liked about this book was that it kept the reader guessing. Was this woman really using magic? Why did the narrator later become a priest? Was Captain Gurley going to finally shoot someone? And who was that boy?
It was a very good read, and I was very pleased my wife got it for me, even if it was by accident.