Book vs. Movie: Cloud Atlas

Book vs. Movie: Cloud Atlas

I read half the book, then watched the movie, then read the other half of the book, so everything was still fresh for comparison. And this is one of the few times where I can’t make a clear decision between the book and the movie as to which I liked better. I liked them both, for different reasons.




  • Really excellent writing and exploration of different narrative methods (1st person, 3rd person, letters, journals, interview, etc.).
  • Distinct and interesting narrative voices, particularly for the sections in 1st person – gave real life to the characters.
  • Much more detail and depth than in the movie.
  • Better job of interweaving the different stories and paralleling themes.
  • Good ensemble cast.
  • Visually beautiful.
  • Quicker to watch the movie than read the book.


  • Some narrative voices were really difficult to slog through. Not a quick or light read. (not necessarily a bad thing, but seemed more fitting in the Cons)
  • Logical but frustrating progression of stories. They advance through the timeline, only telling half the story, and you don’t get the other half until the timeline reaches it peak and works it’s way back down. For the very first story section, which literally cuts off mid-sentence, you don’t get the rest until the very end of the book. Clever and in a way logical, but annoying.
  • A lot was cut out to fit in movie length.
  • Tom Hanks inserting himself into every single storyline.
  • The Zachry storyline – he’s supposed to be a teenager, not Tom Hanks-aged. And the ending of that particular storyline was completely rewritten for the movie – not for the better, in my opinion.
  • General rewriting of some storylines to incorporate romantic subplots that weren’t in the book. Iffy on this one, because I love me a love story, but also liked how it was in the book.

I will say, I think having read at least part of the book first helped make sense of the movie, particularly the Zachry storyline. They dialed down his dialect for the movie, but it’s still hard to understand. And overall, for both, I just loved the subtle connections linking each story. It was a very well-written novel, and Hollywood did a decent job turning it into a movie.

Have you read the book or seen the movie? What did you think?

I give both 4/5 stars.

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Cloud Atlas


Hi, I’m Amanda!

I’m a self-employed graphic designer by day, and a crafty hungry bookworm by night. Dragonflight Dreams is where I write about books, recipes, internet goodies, life things, crafty projects, Austin happenings, and more.

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