Cloud Cuckoo Land

  Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

It felt a little disjointed in the beginning with three different timelines, sets of characters, and settings, but soon hints of a connection between them started to pop up, a connection that developed at just the right pace until it became one story - the story of an ancient book that affected all the lives in all the timelines.   

Timeline One: The Lakeport Public Library, 2020. 

Zeno, an elderly war veteran, is upstairs helping a group of 5 children enact a play about Aethon, a boy who set out to find a magical world of peace and beauty. Zeno has spent years translating the story into English from the original Greek.

Seymour, a teenager obsessed with making people understand that we are destroying the planet and must change our ways right now, is on the first floor. He has a bomb in his backpack.

Timeline Two: Constantinople, 1400s

Oemir, a young boy living in the mountains of Bulgaria, is forced to join an army intent on invading the great city of Contantinople, an army with a powerful new weapon never seen or even imagined before. 

Anna, 8, and her sister live and work inside the city walls, stitching robes for the rich and powerful. At night, Anna sneaks into the city's abandoned buildings looking for manuscripts she might sell to pay her sister's medical expenses. But she can hear the forces amassing outside the walls and knows that time is running out.      

Timeline Three: The Argos, Mission Year 65 

Konstance lives with her family in a completely self sustaining spacecraft overseen by an AI named Sybil, who, programmed with all earth's knowledge, has the answer to any problem that arises. Earth is in ruins and they are on their way to a new planet, one so far away they will never see it themselves but hope their future generations will. Konstance spends much of her time in the ship's virtual library, trying to discover how Aethon's story is connected to her own, until the one problem arises that Sybil can't solve.   

This is a layered, beautifully written story with details and descriptions that bring each part of it to vibrant life. Relatable characters reach out from the page to make an emotional connection. You fear for them when things are precarious, feel relieved when they come safely through and are sad when they don't. 

The further into it I got, the more I didn't want to put it down. As the tension rose toward the end I simply couldn't leave it and stayed up till 1:45 am to finish. It was worth every yawn the next day. 

With good writing, three intriguing plots, and authentic characters, this is everything you want a story to be. I thought it was amazing.


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