02 min reading inBook reviews

Cloud Cuckoo Land - A review

Cloud Cuckoo Land - A review

My latest book pick was 'Cloud Cuckoo Land' by Anthony Doerr. After previously reading his novel 'All The Light We Cannot See', I was excited to begin my journey into Cuckoo Land.

The story takes place across three different time spans. It begins with Konstance, a fourteen-year-old girl, attempting to decipher an ancient script. Earth is no longer habitable, and she finds herself on an interstellar ship with a select group of individuals from different generations. They are hurtling through space, headed towards Beta Oph2, a newly discovered planet.

In the mid-1400s, Omeir is born with a cleft lip, and is considered an ill-fated soul, causing his family to relocate and live in seclusion. Anna, an orphan, struggles with everyday tasks but possesses an insatiable thirst for knowledge and the preservation of an ancient script. Her destiny intertwines with Omeir's as Constantinople comes under siege.

In the present-day city of Idaho, Zeno Ninis, a Korean War veteran, directs a play based on an ancient story with a small group of fifth graders in the public library. Simultaneously, seventeen-year-old autistic boy, Seymour, plans an attack on the neighbouring real estate, which could endanger the lives of everyone in the library. These three timelines are interconnected through an ancient book detailing the journey of Aethon. Aethon is a man who first transforms into a donkey, then to a fish, a crow, and ultimately regains his human form. His quest for Cloud Cuckoo Land is interwoven into the fabric of these three timelines.

Doerr adeptly manages the passage of time by providing simple reminders to the reader, such as "12-year-old Omeir is sitting..." This technique seamlessly propels the story forward in the reader's mind, preventing confusion while emphasizing character growth and narrative arcs. It also helps readers follow the three distinct timelines and track the characters' movements within each time frame. The only critique I can offer is that the book's pacing occasionally slows down due to Doerr's generous storytelling, resulting in a lengthy read.

Having said that, Doerr's description of emotions experienced by a child on the autism spectrum is realistic and compelling. 'Cloud Cuckoo Land' progresses across three different timelines as various characters encounter the ancient script, maintaining continuity throughout. As each characters journeys through the time, the message becomes clear. This story symbolically encourages taking chances in life and preserving what we already possess—a message that ultimately ties all the timelines together and resonates with each character. This book delivers a powerful message: instead of escaping the harsh realities of life, we should embrace what we have. While we may seek paradise in the clouds above, the world we live in is the paradise we need to cherish.

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