Converging Timelines in Cloud Cuckoo Land | Book Review

【 CLOUD CUCKOO LAND 】

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Nothing short of the high-quality writing we expect from Doerr.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Sci-Fi
Author: Anthony Doerr
Published: September 2021
Publisher: 4th Estate
Pages: 626 (paperback)

Content warning (click to see)

climate change – hostage/shooting – war – prison camp (WWII)

Quick thoughts
I don’t think I can express clearly enough just how excited I was to read this book. I loved All the Light We Cannot See, so to get another book in a different genre from the same author had me in a tizzy. And it did not disappoint!

Fast pace and good characters
This book is all go go go from page one and was really hard to put down. I was frequently late to things as I became absorbed in this story and wasn’t aware of time passing.

The things that look fixed in the world, child — mountains, wealth, empires — their permanence is only an illusion. We believe they will last, but that is only because of the brevity of our own lives.

It is somewhat complicated in that there are quite a few characters across three timelines – and then additionally you visit those characters at several points in their own life. But I actually found if you reread the blurb if you start to struggle, that was helpful to get all your ducks back in a row.

Why is it so hard to transcend the identities assigned to us when we were young?

I really loved Zino and it felt like everything revolved around his story. We enter the book with him at a library with young children rehearsing a play, only for a person to come in with a bomb to blow up the library. It’s high stakes and grips you from the start, like I said. Plus the language and descriptions are delightful and enrapturing, like this one where Zino describes a man he fancies:

…there is same pleasure in gazing at this man as in gazing at a fire.

One of the most stressful things I found was the heavy themes of climate disaster, with one character particularly fixated on humanity’s doom due to climate change. So a fair chunk of the book ties into that theme.

What I thought was really cool with the three timelines was the range of eras chosen. Zino and Seymour are in the present time, but then we have two characters in 15th century Turkey, and one in the future on a spaceship. It’s a wild mix of times and somehow Doerr has pulled it off so well.

Sometimes the things we think are lost are only hidden, waiting to be rediscovered.

Final thoughts

I must stop myself rambling, so in short this is really worth it. It’s quite unique and it’s really fun piecing things together and working out how all the characters are connected to each other, and each other’s decisions. It’s a super fast read despite its page count and it has me very excited for whatever Doerr writes next.

Grab a copy!

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3 thoughts on “Converging Timelines in Cloud Cuckoo Land | Book Review

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