Cloud Cuckoo Land: A Novel
by Anthony Doerr
Hardcover- $21.49

From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of All the Light We Cannot See, perhaps the most bestselling and beloved literary fiction of our ...

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  "His writing style will captivate readers, but this is not one of his best." by thewanderingjew (see profile) 10/04/21

Cloud Cuckoo Land, Anthony Doerr, author; Narrators, Marin Ireland and Simon Jones
Gosh, I was really waiting for this book from Doerr. I loved his other books, but this one is a little confusing, although still captivating. It travels back and forth in time from the past to the present to the future and features five characters that he eventually knits together in the end with what I hope was a cohesive message that I understood.
The characters range in age from young adult teenagers, Anna, Omeir, Seymour and Konstance, to Zeno, an octogenarian. Each has a unique, individual story. Anna and Omeir are characters in the 15th century, in 1452 during the war in Constantinople. Seymour and Zeno are characters in the 21st century, around 2020, a time when the environment is front and center politically. Konstance is a character from sometime in the future. Her family chose to participate in an experiment and she has never known life anyplace else but on the spaceship Argos. She shares her life with a computer character named Sybil who is supposed to know all there is to know.
Each of the characters is searching for something, and throughout, the story of Cloud Cuckoo Land, supposedly written by Antonius Diogenes, connects them through time and space. The worlds they occupy are spinning out of control with manmade disasters or natural disasters that are somehow exacerbated by man. There is war, pestilence, disability, cruelty, hunger, poverty, disease, environmental destruction, out of control technology among many other issues that pop up in all societies coupled with a smattering of compassion that is interspersed between the pages, as well. Some characters are gentle, some obedient, some are kind and some cruel, some honest and some reckless, but all find a way to interconnect in the end as the performance of Cloud Cuckoo Land is almost ready to be performed, by a group of students who love the story, although it is silly and highly unbelievable. Like the phantasmagorical story, so is the novel, and one must suspend disbelief in order to make the connection with the characters, as they too, connect with each other’s dreams at different times of history and the future.
Several disparate themes recur throughout the book. Books are an important theme as are superstition, fear, sadness, education, animals and other trusted creatures (owls, birds, dogs and donkeys), and, above all, the environment. Not to be left out are pandemics and disasters, wars and destruction, betrayals and dysfunction, disabilities, race and homosexuality. With all of these recurring unfortunate themes, the book supposedly offers hope for the survival of mankind. I am afraid, I did not entirely agree. The descriptions were often too graphic for me and the stories too bizarre. Still, one theme came through for me in the end, and that was…be careful what you wish for, sometimes it is disappointing, and what you already possess is likely far better. Simple is often more satisfying than complicated, and books may hold the answers to everything.
Because of the confusing timeline and thread of utter fantasy grounded in real problems, I believe the print book would be a better choice than the audio, although it is superbly performed and each character has a unique tone and personality.

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These adjectives are not saving what I selected

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