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Cloud Cuckoo Land

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Thirteen-year-old Anna, an orphan, lives inside the formidable walls of Constantinople in a house of women who make their living embroidering the robes of priests. Restless, insatiably curious, Anna learns to read, and in this ancient city, famous for its libraries, she finds a book, the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian pa Thirteen-year-old Anna, an orphan, lives inside the formidable walls of Constantinople in a house of women who make their living embroidering the robes of priests. Restless, insatiably curious, Anna learns to read, and in this ancient city, famous for its libraries, she finds a book, the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky. This she reads to her ailing sister as the walls of the only place she has known are bombarded in the great siege of Constantinople. Outside the walls is Omeir, a village boy, miles from home, conscripted with his beloved oxen into the invading army. His path and Anna’s will cross. Five hundred years later, in a library in Idaho, octogenarian Zeno, who learned Greek as a prisoner of war, rehearses five children in a play adaptation of Aethon’s story, preserved against all odds through centuries. Tucked among the library shelves is a bomb, planted by a troubled, idealistic teenager, Seymour. This is another siege. And in a not-so-distant future, on the interstellar ship Argos, Konstance is alone in a vault, copying on scraps of sacking the story of Aethon, told to her by her father. She has never set foot on our planet.


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Thirteen-year-old Anna, an orphan, lives inside the formidable walls of Constantinople in a house of women who make their living embroidering the robes of priests. Restless, insatiably curious, Anna learns to read, and in this ancient city, famous for its libraries, she finds a book, the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian pa Thirteen-year-old Anna, an orphan, lives inside the formidable walls of Constantinople in a house of women who make their living embroidering the robes of priests. Restless, insatiably curious, Anna learns to read, and in this ancient city, famous for its libraries, she finds a book, the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky. This she reads to her ailing sister as the walls of the only place she has known are bombarded in the great siege of Constantinople. Outside the walls is Omeir, a village boy, miles from home, conscripted with his beloved oxen into the invading army. His path and Anna’s will cross. Five hundred years later, in a library in Idaho, octogenarian Zeno, who learned Greek as a prisoner of war, rehearses five children in a play adaptation of Aethon’s story, preserved against all odds through centuries. Tucked among the library shelves is a bomb, planted by a troubled, idealistic teenager, Seymour. This is another siege. And in a not-so-distant future, on the interstellar ship Argos, Konstance is alone in a vault, copying on scraps of sacking the story of Aethon, told to her by her father. She has never set foot on our planet.

30 review for Cloud Cuckoo Land

  1. 5 out of 5

    Yun

    So many words! It would take seven lifetimes to learn them all. Have mercy! That's how I felt reading this monstrosity of a book. So many descriptions... it would take seven lifetimes to read them all. Sigh. For all you fans of Anthony Doerr and All the Light We Cannot See, rest assured, because Cloud Cuckoo Land delivers more of the same: endless, beautiful descriptions of mundane nonevents and no actual plot to be seen anywhere. I'm sitting here trying to think up some sentences to describe So many words! It would take seven lifetimes to learn them all. Have mercy! That's how I felt reading this monstrosity of a book. So many descriptions... it would take seven lifetimes to read them all. Sigh. For all you fans of Anthony Doerr and All the Light We Cannot See, rest assured, because Cloud Cuckoo Land delivers more of the same: endless, beautiful descriptions of mundane nonevents and no actual plot to be seen anywhere. I'm sitting here trying to think up some sentences to describe what this book is about, and I'm honestly at a loss. It has five points of view and an additional story within, so that's six separate plot lines we are following, with some of them jumping across multiple timelines as well. If that's not confusing enough, each chapter is only a few pages long before switching to someone else. So just as I'm settling into one, I'm yanked out of it and dropped into another. Speaking of the different storylines, they are not all equally interesting. My most dreaded are Omeir and Anna's, who are both waiting and preparing for war (but separately). How much is there to write about the non-act of waiting? Well, a lot, as it turns out. To pass the pages, we get to know intimately these characters' landscapes and their every thought. We also read all about Zeno being in war, though this is a different war from the other one, so it requires its own detailed descriptions. It's not that there is no action, but rather that whenever anything potentially exciting happens, it's immediately mired within paragraphs of descriptive prose, which no matter how beautifully written, just don't hold my interest. I do want to point out something that made me uncomfortable. The one "villain" we follow is clearly described as an autistic person, and I'm honestly a little surprised this made it through. Are we still living in a time period where it's ok to vilify certain groups of people? I understand that his storyline is eventually redemptive, but why was it necessary to make him autistic to begin with? The most interesting of the storylines happens aboard the Argos. But here, too, it disappointed me. One of the (only!) interesting things to happen was never fully explained. And the plot's eventual pivot towards the end of the book felt underdeveloped and a waste of potential. The six different storylines do all tie together in the end, but it's a pretty weak connection. Honestly, you could've strung random storylines together the same way and called it good too. Obviously, many readers love Anthony Doerr, so something must be broken in me because I just can't understand it. This is the second novel I've read by him, and I feel exactly the same both times. When I see his paragraphs upon paragraphs of descriptive prose about walking or hiding or skulking, my eyes glaze over. No matter how hard I try, I can't seem to process or retain his writing. My mind wanders constantly. And when I do manage to focus, my memory of what I read is gone as soon as I've finished the sentence. Often I can't even make it to the end of a paragraph before I've forgotten the beginning and had to start over. This happened for almost the entire book. If I sound somewhat bitter, I apologize. It's just that this book is more than 600 pages and I read through it all (many parts multiple times) just to make sure I didn't miss some epiphany. Spoiler alert: I didn't. My heartfelt thanks for the advance copy that was provided for my honest and unbiased review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Angela M

    3.5 stars rounded up. All the Light We Cannot See is a favorite of mine, so even though I wasn’t sure if this one was going to be for me, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to read this new novel by Anthony Doerr. There were moments while reading it that I was so taken by one character or another and their story. There are several stories, multiple time lines, spanning centuries, in different places, in alternating narratives. Each of them has compelling characters, a compelling story and they a 3.5 stars rounded up. All the Light We Cannot See is a favorite of mine, so even though I wasn’t sure if this one was going to be for me, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to read this new novel by Anthony Doerr. There were moments while reading it that I was so taken by one character or another and their story. There are several stories, multiple time lines, spanning centuries, in different places, in alternating narratives. Each of them has compelling characters, a compelling story and they are connected to an ancient text, excerpts of which are interspersed. It’s imaginative, contains multiple genres and definitely some beautiful writing. I couldn’t help but care about Anna and Omeir whose story in set in the 1400’s during the seige of Constantinople, Zeno, as a young boy in Idaho and later as an old man, Konstance, whose story is in the future on what appears to be a spaceship and others, Seymour whose story is heartbreaking in many ways and set in the same time as Zeno when he is elderly. Zeno was perhaps my favorite character, brave and kind. I was hoping to love it, but there was just too much going on - fantasy, sci-fi, historical fiction, a contemporary themed story of the dangers posed to the environment. While ultimately connected, I felt like I was reading several different stories. All of the connections aren’t revealed fully until the end, and it felt a little contrived. Having said that, I wonder if it’s even a valid criticism since a lot of fiction I suppose one could say is contrived on some level. In the end, though, I just didn’t have that - omg , I love this book feeling. I’m rounding it because there were more things I liked about it than didn’t. It’s definitely different from anything I’ve read in a while. I received an advanced copy of this book from Simon & Schuster through Edelweiss.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lisa of Troy

    I would like to dedicate this book review to myself (That was a little bit of book humor for those who read the book) :) Cloud Cuckoo Land shifts between five characters: Konstance, Zeno, Seymour, Anna, and Omeir. Many years in the future, Konstance has been living in a space ship called The Argos her entire life when she faces some challenges. In present day, Zeno and Seymour are from Idaho and are grappling with life's losses. In the 1400's, we have Anna and Omeir in Constantinople who are in t I would like to dedicate this book review to myself (That was a little bit of book humor for those who read the book) :) Cloud Cuckoo Land shifts between five characters: Konstance, Zeno, Seymour, Anna, and Omeir. Many years in the future, Konstance has been living in a space ship called The Argos her entire life when she faces some challenges. In present day, Zeno and Seymour are from Idaho and are grappling with life's losses. In the 1400's, we have Anna and Omeir in Constantinople who are in the midst of a battle. My rating is largely driven off the fact that I value an interesting story above all else. This book was definitely interesting. This book was also a confusing mess especially to begin with. Cloud Cuckoo Land shifts between 5 different characters and also non-linear timelines. You might be reading about a character's middle point in life and then switch to another character's life but in a different time period and at the beginning of that character's life. Listen, I'm no stranger to multiple POV's, but usually it is limited to 3 different people max. This book has 5 different people! Then, throw on top of that shifting timelines. If I was the editor, I would have put the book in a chronological order. Often, I would feel like "Oh, this is just getting really interesting" then cut to next character. It would have been better to just stick with one character at a time in my opinion. The beginning of the book read more like a collection of short stories because it was so disjointed. My favorite parts of the books were regarding Konstance, Zeno, and Seymour. The sections regarding Anna and Omeir didn't really have my interest, and it felt a little forced on the reader. Alright enough, Negative Nancy. This book was 600 pages, and it held my attention for the most part for the entire book. I read the physical copy of this, but I think the audiobook will really bring this to the next level. My philosophy is that despite genre if the storytelling is good, I will read it. Well, this book had good storytelling in spades. Overall, looking forward to reading more books by this author and great storytelling (if you can get past the disjointedness). *Thanks, NetGalley, for a free copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest opinion.

  4. 4 out of 5

    jessica

    its been 7 years since ADs massive success, ‘all the light we cannot see,’ so i was immensely interested in seeing how this next novel would follow up to that kind of pressure and expectation. while there is a lot about this that reminded me of my reading experience with ‘all the light we cannot see,’ its very apparent this story feels drastically more ambitious. and i think a story like this has to be. such an ode to the art of storytelling and the profession of storykeeping deserves to be a gra its been 7 years since ADs massive success, ‘all the light we cannot see,’ so i was immensely interested in seeing how this next novel would follow up to that kind of pressure and expectation. while there is a lot about this that reminded me of my reading experience with ‘all the light we cannot see,’ its very apparent this story feels drastically more ambitious. and i think a story like this has to be. such an ode to the art of storytelling and the profession of storykeeping deserves to be a grand gesture. while reading, i was definitely drawn to some POVs more than others, particularly anna and omeirs. it wasnt until the end, when i could see how everyone was connected, that i appreciated the other characters and their chapters. it was such a rewarding feeling witnessing how a simple story could be spread throughout time, impacting individuals and, in turn, impacting others. overall, i think fans of literary fiction and lovers of stories will really value this particular novel. thank you scribner for the ARC!! ↠ 4 stars

  5. 5 out of 5

    Petrik

    ARC provided by Goodreads & the publisher—Scribner—in exchange for an honest review. 3.5/5 stars Cloud Cuckoo Land is more ambitious and complex than All the Light We Cannot See in every possible way. It’s hard not to compare Doerr’s newest book to his previous immensely successful work: All the Light We Cannot See. And if I’m not mistaken, Cloud Cuckoo Land is the first novel that Doerr published since the release of All the Light We Cannot See; that’s seven years ago. I enjoyed All the Light We C ARC provided by Goodreads & the publisher—Scribner—in exchange for an honest review. 3.5/5 stars Cloud Cuckoo Land is more ambitious and complex than All the Light We Cannot See in every possible way. It’s hard not to compare Doerr’s newest book to his previous immensely successful work: All the Light We Cannot See. And if I’m not mistaken, Cloud Cuckoo Land is the first novel that Doerr published since the release of All the Light We Cannot See; that’s seven years ago. I enjoyed All the Light We Cannot See, but honestly speaking, despite its insane success and praises, I never felt inclined to give Doerr’s work another try. But the premise and dedication just captured my attention so much, and now that I’ve read it, I am pretty sure that Doerr’s newest work, Cloud Cuckoo Land, will be another beloved bestseller worldwide. “The world we’re handing our kids brims with challenges: climate instability, pandemics, disinformation. I wanted this novel to reflect those anxieties, but also offer meaningful hope, so I tried to create a tapestry of times and places that reflecs our interconnectedness—with other species, with each other, with the ones who lived before us, and the ones who will be here after we’re gone.”—Anthony Doerr The passage above by Doerr himself has clearly states what the themes of the book are about. In addition to that, Cloud Cuckoo Land is dedicated to the librarians then, now, and in the years to come. It’s an apt dedication; Cloud Cuckoo Land is at its core a book about connections. It shows how an action or a book could affect the lives of people across multiple generations. It also shows how we remain connected with one another even long after we’re gone. And told through five main POV characters, I believe the text in Cloud Cuckoo Land will affect many future readers of this book. “Repository… you know this word? A resting place. A text—a book—is a resting placefor the memories of people who have lived before. A way for the memory to stay fixed after the soul has traveled on.” I loved the concept, premise, and messages of the book, but unfortunately, I will have to say that I do have mixed feelings regarding the characters and writings. As I said, Cloud Cuckoo Land is told through the perspective of five characters: Anna, Omeir, Seymour, Zeno, and Konstance. Out of all of these, my favorites were Omeir’s and Zeno’s storyline; I felt that they were the most engaging. I did, however, struggled with getting interested in Anna’s and Seymour’s storyline. It shouldn’t be that way, especially for Anna because Anna and Omeir reminded me of Marie and Werner from All the Light We Cannot See. But it did happen, and I think I can pinpoint this to the way the prose is delivered. “Each sign signifies a sound, and to link sounds is to form words, and to link words is to construct worlds.” Doerr writes beautifully, and in this ambitious and complex novel, I wish the chapters—not all of them—were longer. With five POV characters that jump back and forth in time, things can get pretty confusing at times. But personally, my biggest issue with Cloud Cuckoo Land is that I found the POV chapters changing too quickly to my liking before I even get invested in the said character’s story. This was the same in All the Light We Cannot See; each chapter was so short, but in that novel, we have only two characters to follow. Here, we have five POV characters, with such short chapters, it was hard for me to connect with the characters. Also, similar to the prose in All the Light We Cannot See, there’s a lot of metaphors used that I couldn’t fully click with; they took me out of Doerr’s beautiful writing rather than engrossed me. “Stranger, whoever you are, open this to learn what will amaze you.” I did struggle quite a lot reading through the middle section of Cloud Cuckoo Land, and I won’t lie that I’ve thought of putting it down for good several times. But just like the strong first quarter, the final 20% of Cloud Cuckoo Land delivered a strong conclusion. Although I liked it, I’m confident that many readers will love it more than I did. You can pre-order the book from: Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping) You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions | I also have a Booktube channel Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing! My Patrons: Alfred, Alya, Annabeth, Ben, Blaise, Devin, Diana, Dylan, Edward, Ellen, Gary, Hamad, Helen, Jimmy Nutts, Joie, Luis, Lufi, Melinda, Mike, Miracle, Nicholas, Sarah, Sarah, Seth, Shaad, Summer, Wendy, Wick, Zoe.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cheri

    I love that Doerr dedicated this to “the librarians then, now, and in the years to come.” Set in three distinct time frames, the past - 1453, the present, and decades in the future, this follows the stories of those living during those times, along with a belief in, and hope for, the future. The ways their stories are connected, as well as the story that connects them. This begins, briefly, with the story set in the future, the story of Konstance, a fourteen-year-old girl living on an interstella I love that Doerr dedicated this to “the librarians then, now, and in the years to come.” Set in three distinct time frames, the past - 1453, the present, and decades in the future, this follows the stories of those living during those times, along with a belief in, and hope for, the future. The ways their stories are connected, as well as the story that connects them. This begins, briefly, with the story set in the future, the story of Konstance, a fourteen-year-old girl living on an interstellar ship and Sybil, the ship’s overseeing voice reminding her that it is late, and that she must eat, but Sybil is immersed in reading Antonius Diogenes Cloud Cuckoo Land, envisioning the story as she continues to read, ignoring Sybil’s demands. Her father had shared the story with her over time, and Konstance finds comfort in reflecting on their shared connection, but searches for more, connecting piece by piece. In the present the story is set in Idaho, and centers around Zeno, in his 80’s, and Seymour, a teenager whose love of an owl changes how he sees the world, the cavalier destruction of the planet and those who make it their home. Seymour finds some solace in Diogenes Cloud Cuckoo Land, and it becomes a source of fuel for his fire. At the library, Zeno is working with a group of young children for a production of Cloud Cuckoo Land. In the process, they learn the story of Aethon, his wish to become a bird in order to fly to Cloud Cuckoo Land, and live in paradise. In the past, Anna and Omeir live different lives, one living inside the city wall of Constantinople, one on the outside. Anna lived inside the convent, embroidering robes for priests during the day. Having been taught to read, she finds a collection of old books in an abandoned priory, among them the transcript of Cloud Cuckoo Land, which she takes with her when she takes flight from the monastery. She meets Omeir, who is also fleeing. A bond forms between them, they are both young, and over time he will continue to protect her, as well as the transcript. To borrow from Norman Maclean, ’eventually, all things merge into one’, and while a river doesn’t run through this, there is that sense of the flow, the timelessness, and the eternal words beneath it all. Pub Date: 28 Sep 2021 Many thanks for the ARC provided by Scribner

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    This is a Historical Fiction/Science Fiction/Fantasy. I have to say I did not know if this would be mine kind of book because fantasy/science fiction is hit or miss for me, but I loved this author's other book "All the Light We Cannot See". I have to say this book has several different timelines and several characters. It took me about 100 pages into this book before I got pulled into this book. There are some of the characters I liked more then others and some of the timelines took me longer to This is a Historical Fiction/Science Fiction/Fantasy. I have to say I did not know if this would be mine kind of book because fantasy/science fiction is hit or miss for me, but I loved this author's other book "All the Light We Cannot See". I have to say this book has several different timelines and several characters. It took me about 100 pages into this book before I got pulled into this book. There are some of the characters I liked more then others and some of the timelines took me longer to get into. The ending was so very good, and the ending pulled everything together so nicely. This book made me think about so many things, and I loved where this book went. This is not going to be the book for everyone, and I think the writing style this author as will not be for everyone. I found just like All the Light We Cannot See there are things that comes out early in the book that will not make a lot of sense until closer to the ending when everything comes together. I was kindly provided an e-copy of this book by the publisher (Scribner) or author (Anthony Doerr) via NetGalley, so I can give an honest review about how I feel about this book. I want to send a big Thank you to them for that. Note: I also won a ARC of this book for a Goodreads Giveaway.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jaidee

    4 " a more measured admiration and affection" stars !! Thanks to Netgalley, the author and Simon & Schuster Canada for an advanced e-copy. This will be released September 2021. I am providing an honest review. Like hundreds of thousands perhaps millions of readers I was mesmerized and amazed by All the Light We Cannot See and that was rated a full five stars (also my 5th favorite read of 2017). You can imagine how excited I was to receive an e-copy in advance of publication and I dove right in o 4 " a more measured admiration and affection" stars !! Thanks to Netgalley, the author and Simon & Schuster Canada for an advanced e-copy. This will be released September 2021. I am providing an honest review. Like hundreds of thousands perhaps millions of readers I was mesmerized and amazed by All the Light We Cannot See and that was rated a full five stars (also my 5th favorite read of 2017). You can imagine how excited I was to receive an e-copy in advance of publication and I dove right in on receipt. This is an excellent, imaginative and fanciful tale that involves the lives of children doing the best they can to survive with neglect, disability, disinterested adults, a dying earth. We are taken by the hand to ancient greek myths, the siege of Constantinople, the Korean War, present day Idaho and the near future in outer space. The narratives weave back and forth like the fibers of a Persian carpet. Mr. Doerr moves effortlessly and skillfully through myth, historical fiction, fantasy, drama and even romance. The prose is simple but colorful and at times quite beautiful. His message and morals are clear and this book is (mostly and generally) a delight to read. I need to be honest though there were some subjective difficulties that I had with this read. The psychologies of the characters are rather superficial, at times the prose was repetitive and at times I felt that this was a bit too glib, a bit too convenient and moderately over-processed. These challenges were at the very lower end of worrisome and did not overly detract from the magic that is created here. Overall I feel that this was a 3.5 star read but due to the frequency of my tears and the way my heart often swelled I know that I cannot rate this lower than an stellar 4 stars. I very much look forward to seeing what elixir Mr. Doerr cooks up next.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    Some books I’ll request just because of an author. I don’t even bother reading the description. That was the case when I requested Cloud Cuckoo Land, because of my love of All The Light We Cannot See. So, I was a bit surprised when I started this book and discovered its convoluted premise. It’s got three different story lines, from three different centuries, including the future, and three different places, including an interstellar starship. There are five main characters, two each in the past Some books I’ll request just because of an author. I don’t even bother reading the description. That was the case when I requested Cloud Cuckoo Land, because of my love of All The Light We Cannot See. So, I was a bit surprised when I started this book and discovered its convoluted premise. It’s got three different story lines, from three different centuries, including the future, and three different places, including an interstellar starship. There are five main characters, two each in the past and present, and one in the future. The synopsis can give you a more complete outline. If you want stories that make sense and move in a linear fashion, this is not for you. This was more like reading multiple short stories that had been cut up and interspersed between each other. Yet… while normally this would have irritated me to no end, I found myself drawn in. I wanted to know what was going to happen to each of them - Anna, Konstance, Zeno, Seymour, Omeir. To be honest, it surprised me to no end. It’s beautifully written with characters that felt real. I could easily envision each scene taking place. What binds it all together is a weird, historical Greek story called Cloud Cuckoo Land, written by Antonios Diogenes that envisions a shepherd trying to get to a mythical city in the sky. It’s described as “part fairy tale, part fool’s errand, part science-fiction, part utopian satire”. The shepherd is a model of perseverance and the characters of this book, in turn, are the same. Each is faced with hardships but each continues to put one foot in front of the other. It’s a message of hope. It reminds us of the power of a good story to give meaning to our lives. You might be put off by the sheer length of the book, 640 pages, but it actually was a quick read. My thanks to Netgalley and Scribner for an advance copy of this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jasmine

    This book is everything a reader could ask for. This beautifully written book shows how broken the world is and the damage we continue to inflict upon it, but it also is a shining example of hope. This is part contemporary, part historical fiction, and part sci-fi. It follows a wonderful cast of characters throughout many centuries. Konstance who is living on an interstellar ship set in the not-too-distant future. Zeno and Seymour whose lives collide on a fateful day in present day Idaho. Omeir an This book is everything a reader could ask for. This beautifully written book shows how broken the world is and the damage we continue to inflict upon it, but it also is a shining example of hope. This is part contemporary, part historical fiction, and part sci-fi. It follows a wonderful cast of characters throughout many centuries. Konstance who is living on an interstellar ship set in the not-too-distant future. Zeno and Seymour whose lives collide on a fateful day in present day Idaho. Omeir and Anna whose lives intersect during the siege of Constantinople in 1453. There’s also a myth (completely invented by the author) that connects these characters. Truly, I loved everything about this novel. I loved that there was a smattering of Ancient Greek language throughout the book. It’s very accessible, a translation follows every instance of it. There are twenty-four sections in this book that go along with the Greek alphabet, alpha to omega. I haven’t read All the Light We Cannot See, so I’ll need to correct that oversight immediately. Thank you to Netgalley and Scribner/Simon & Schuster Canada for the ARC in exchange for my honest opinions. I also won a printed copy in a giveaway from Simon & Schuster Canada

  11. 4 out of 5

    Marieke du Pré

    All the Light We Cannot See was beautiful, but this excels the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by far! It’s insane, amazing, gorgeous, ingenious; I almost have no words. A journey through centuries for everyone who loves libraries and reading, who wants to learn, wants to dream, and wants stories to be shared time and again. This story is so grand, and still so small and so incredibly personal; I loved every page. 

Those beautiful children, who all feel different: meet Anna, who wants to learn to r All the Light We Cannot See was beautiful, but this excels the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by far! It’s insane, amazing, gorgeous, ingenious; I almost have no words. A journey through centuries for everyone who loves libraries and reading, who wants to learn, wants to dream, and wants stories to be shared time and again. This story is so grand, and still so small and so incredibly personal; I loved every page. 

Those beautiful children, who all feel different: meet Anna, who wants to learn to read so badly, meet Omeir, sweet and brave, born with a cleft lip, who cares so much for his oxen Tree and Moonlight, meet Zeno, who’s afraid of his own identity, meet Seymour, who loves Trustyfriend more than anything in the world, and meet Konstance, who seems to be all alone up in space. Five POVs in three different times. And in between fragments about Aethon who wants to be a bird because he’s searching for the perfect world: cloud cuckoo land.

I got hooked from the first page, although all those POVs and different times felt a little chaotic at first. It’s like reading five stories within one, including flashbacks. Sometimes I had to stop for a moment to remember what happened before in that specific timeline. It didn’t take long, though; Anthony Doerr’s writing is so enthralling and captivating that I soon dived in again, wanting to read more, more, more. I wanted to be with Anna, then with Omeir, I wanted to go back to Anna, but I also wanted to keep reading about Zeno and Seymour, and desperately about Omeir, I wanted to know badly what Konstance was doing up in space, and then I longed to be back with Zeno or Seymour, or both, and with Anna and Omeir as well, but I didn’t want to leave Konstance, so I kept reading frantically, and ..., and ...

It’s clear I adored this book, right? That I urge you to read this story? That I want to scream and shout about it? And you know what? I wrote this review when I had only read 15% of the story ... So, that early, I knew it would be a real gem! When you can write like this, you deserve a second Pulitzer Prize!

I received an ARC from Simon & Schuster (Scribner) and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Ebook-synced-audio Well….. When I first saw this book on Netgalley - available to early readers - (for dedicated readers to diligently read it carefully, then leave us an honest - semi-informative review)…. …..positive, beautiful ones and less enchanting but also beautifully negatively valuable….. I ran!! Bolted. “OUT OF HERE”, I said to myself. “I didn’t want my joy of reading tampered with. I didn’t want to fail and fall flat on my face”. Basically, I didn’t trust my ability to comprehend this bo Ebook-synced-audio Well….. When I first saw this book on Netgalley - available to early readers - (for dedicated readers to diligently read it carefully, then leave us an honest - semi-informative review)…. …..positive, beautiful ones and less enchanting but also beautifully negatively valuable….. I ran!! Bolted. “OUT OF HERE”, I said to myself. “I didn’t want my joy of reading tampered with. I didn’t want to fail and fall flat on my face”. Basically, I didn’t trust my ability to comprehend this book thoroughly—so I didn’t want the responsibility of introducing a new novel. Time went by…. still in the newly release stages …. I changed my mind. Once I did, I went all out : purchased both the e-book and audiobook. I was going to give it my all-read it, work it, understand, and be blown away by it! Why not? I’m able! I failed on all accounts except for one: I finished it. I liked the premise and purpose from which this book was born (listen to a few YouTubes/ interviews by Anthony Doerr) …. As for my personal experience reading/ listening —I felt like I was in a classroom— waiting for the bell to ring— so I could be excused. So in closing I will introduce a new vocabulary word I recently learned that is very fitting to my experience of reading this book: Chosisme: …..definition: “A literary style which focuses on description of objects, not on interpretation, plot, characterization, etc.” By the way….(for anyone interested)…. ….now that I am not writing reviews FOR ANYONE—no strings attached — no exchanges — I’m totally happier!!! 🥳.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    I know the logic behind watching an entertaining Tv show about nothing. At least it made me laugh out loud and gave me stomach cramps. ( in good way) But reading a long long and long book with multi POVs who are weekly connected with long long long descriptions about doing nothing with the long long long storylines that are stuck in somewhere without direction make me lost lost lost during my reading journey! I’m already too embarrassed to write this unpopular review opening! Couldn’t I find any I know the logic behind watching an entertaining Tv show about nothing. At least it made me laugh out loud and gave me stomach cramps. ( in good way) But reading a long long and long book with multi POVs who are weekly connected with long long long descriptions about doing nothing with the long long long storylines that are stuck in somewhere without direction make me lost lost lost during my reading journey! I’m already too embarrassed to write this unpopular review opening! Couldn’t I find anything interesting, concrete, relatable to hold on about the entire execution? Well, POVs of Anna and Omeir were a little more capturing but how long you can write wordy pages about waiting for the war? I may be unfair about those embellished, detailed depictions the author chose to use. But seriously, I felt like I get lost in the middle of ocean without a life vest and I kept dragging. Because both of the characters’ stories went to nowhere. They were stuck like me and as we reach to the conclusion, I asked myself, “is that all?seriously?” I just checked my book cover for make sure I wasn’t mistakenly reading another book! Nope, that was the right one but not the right book for me! I think after Klara and the Sun, this book was another missing opportunity and unfortunate disappointment for me! I tried so hard to enjoy it. But I’m personally the wrong reader for this novel!

  14. 4 out of 5

    L.A.

    4.5**** Anthony Doerr captured 3 time periods weaving them into a connection with the Greek Myth Aethon. Each time period builds on the other while the characters are not alike and each on a different journey, you will be amazed how much we are all the same. There is an eeriness when you realize how will we be perceived when we are gone by those that will exist after. I'm not a fan of Sci-fi or Greek Mythology, but after reading several sections I became mesmerized where it would connect. Notable 4.5**** Anthony Doerr captured 3 time periods weaving them into a connection with the Greek Myth Aethon. Each time period builds on the other while the characters are not alike and each on a different journey, you will be amazed how much we are all the same. There is an eeriness when you realize how will we be perceived when we are gone by those that will exist after. I'm not a fan of Sci-fi or Greek Mythology, but after reading several sections I became mesmerized where it would connect. Notable, each chapter is actually 24 sections in the Greek Alphabet...Alpha to Omega..how befitting when there is a beginning and the end. I must say too "All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr is one of my favorites to recommend if you haven't read it. It enticed me to read this one. Totally different books, but delivery of them both are amazing. **Aethon is from 4th Century BC Greek Playwright Aristophanes... a whimsical play** meaning curiosity, foolish behavior...a humorous title but derived from the play in what they should call the city of Sparta that would make Hercules proud "Cloud Cuckoo Land". With 3 time periods, 1453, 15th Century Constantinople under siege is Anna, an orphan, living under the roof of women destined and tied to sewing the robes of priest all day. Finding a library book on the character Aethon, she reads and imagines what it would be like to be a bird and fly to paradise. She finds a friend in a village boy, Omeir...their relationship is poetic. Present day Idaho, 5 children under the direction of Zeno in a play Aethon in the library....their lives will soon connect with a disturbed teen, Seymour, who plants a bomb in the library...this is an intense relationship between Zeno & Seymour. The final time period is on a futuristic spaceship with young Konstance studying the remnants of the story Aethon. I was not prepared for the ending and final twist of lives and how we are all connected, while watching a different clock. When a book like this stops you in your tracks...and be prepared a tad to get to that point 😉 you will ponder the past, present and future with a new perspective. This is entitled to an award for a unexpected journey we are all on and how our lives connect with people in the 15th century and to what the future beholds. Good job, Anthony Doerr! Alpha to Omega.... Cheers to all time periods of Libraries and librarians!! Thank you NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for this remarkable ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mary Keane

    I’m in awe. This book is a triumph. I’d give ten stars if I could.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Behind the scenes at the publishing house: An intern is rushing around the office between her fifth and sixth coffee run of the day and is handed drafts of three different books. She’s furiously typing Christina’s order of a venti nonfat latte with 3 pumps of sugar-free cinnamon dolce into her Starbucks app when she runs straight into a colleague. Papers go flying everywhere. She turns bright red, drops to the floor, and Ben, ever so helpful, especially for having just been slammed into before he Behind the scenes at the publishing house: An intern is rushing around the office between her fifth and sixth coffee run of the day and is handed drafts of three different books. She’s furiously typing Christina’s order of a venti nonfat latte with 3 pumps of sugar-free cinnamon dolce into her Starbucks app when she runs straight into a colleague. Papers go flying everywhere. She turns bright red, drops to the floor, and Ben, ever so helpful, especially for having just been slammed into before he has gotten *his* coffee, helps her scoop them up into some semblance of an orderly pile. Just then, the editor to whom the drafts are to be delivered rounds the corner. Too flustered to say anything, the intern simply hands over the pile of nonsensically sorted chapters. The editor, knowing the author is the proud owner of a Pulitzer, declares this to be groundbreaking and genius. Non-linear timelines and multiple POVs are so in right now! And thus Cloud Cuckoo Land is born. Clearly, I’m being a bit (okay, more than a bit) facetious here, but also… I did not enjoy the formatting of this at all. It jumped around far too much for my liking (we follow 5 characters, two of whom have both past and present chapters, so it’s 7 timelines to keep track of) and I felt some of the storylines were far stronger than others. (I want to read a whole book about Konstance!) While I appreciate what Doerr was doing with tying humanity together despite vast differences in time, place, and circumstances, I still don’t know if it made all of the timelines worth it. I also felt that one timeline left me with more questions than answers. This is a hefty book, and it really could have used some editing. Some though I feel will argue that the editing should come more in the form of trimming down the prose rather than losing characters. So let’s get to the prose then, shall we… The writing was beautiful and so descriptive. Very, veeeery descriptive. There are pages and pages of detailed setting description before something actually happens, so for those who know themselves as readers and who know they do not like that type of thing, this is my warning to you. And for those who are world builders and love beautiful descriptions, it is my enticement. This is a book you will really have to immerse yourself in, and for me, the writing did help to do that. I quite enjoyed it, but can see why others are having a very hard time with it. Lastly, I have really mixed feelings about Seymour and his portrayal. On the one hand, it’s wonderful to see representation of neurodiverse characters. On the other, I’m pretty deeply uncomfortable with some of the choices here. He is introduced to us as he walks into a library full of children, toting a bomb in his backpack… For some, the character arc and the book’s overall message will justify this. For me, I was greatly disheartened to see yet another semi-villainous portrayal of someone with a cognitive difference or mental illness, regardless of whether or not there is redemption. It’s just not a message that I think needs to be out there right now, especially from this “calibre” of literature which will be reaching quite a wide audience. I’m really quite stumped as to how to rate this. There were things I loved and I could see flashes of genius in it. I enjoyed the writing and will be reading other books by the author. But I also just had a lot of problems with it, structurally, and otherwise. Many thanks to NetGalley and Scribner for an advance copy of this title for review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    "And the tale I have to tell is so ludicrous, so incredible, that you’ll never believe a word of it, and yet... it’s true." Wow, what an amazing story, spanning a millennium and reaching into the future, Cloud Cuckoo Land entwines the lives of: • An ancient Grecian philosopher telling the story of a man turned into a donkey, a fish, and a crow •A thirteen year old orphan in medieval Constantinople, doing what she can to save her sickly older sister and finding a stash of archaic papyrus •A man beli "And the tale I have to tell is so ludicrous, so incredible, that you’ll never believe a word of it, and yet... it’s true." Wow, what an amazing story, spanning a millennium and reaching into the future, Cloud Cuckoo Land entwines the lives of: • An ancient Grecian philosopher telling the story of a man turned into a donkey, a fish, and a crow •A thirteen year old orphan in medieval Constantinople, doing what she can to save her sickly older sister and finding a stash of archaic papyrus •A man believed to be cursed because he was born with a cleft palate and whose closest friends are his beloved oxen • A man who learns Greek while he's kept captive during the Korean War •An idealistic teenager with Sensory Processing Disorder who wants to save the environment by any means necessary •A young girl aboard an intergenerational spaceship travelling 4,806,280 miles an hour toward a star system and planet where humans might have another chance at survival. The book goes back and forth between these characters, telling their stories and bringing them to life. With a less talented author, this could have been confusing. However, the stories and times and places flow seamlessly, melding these disparate lives into one incredible adventure. It is a long book but don't let that put you off. There is not one superfluous sentence or paragraph and it reads quickly, the pages almost turning themselves. This is one of my favourite books this year and I've little doubt it will be a Goodreads Choice Award for 2021 nominee..... and deserves to win. "Each of these books, child, is a door, a gateway to another place and time. You have your whole life in front of you, and for all of it, you’ll have this. It will be enough, don’t you think?”

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    Initially, this novel seems as if it is several disjointed stories but hang in there and rest assured that eventually it all falls together. And, I do mean eventually. This is a behemoth of a book. Be prepared to whiz around between the distant past, the present, and the near future. I think Doerr, within its pages, describes this book best. It is “…part fairytale, part fool’s errand, part science fiction, part utopian satire…” Frankly, I was dazzled.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    Anthony Doerr is an author I have come to admire and this latest of his novels did not disappoint. The title is the central premise, a recently discovered manuscript of a tale by an ancient Greek writer, Antonius Diogenes. This fantastic and mythical tale becomes a background for Doerr’s story of three episodes in human history. He follows the lives of Anna and Omeir, who live in the 15th century; Zeno and Seymour who live in contemporary times; and Konstance who lives in the future. The link: t Anthony Doerr is an author I have come to admire and this latest of his novels did not disappoint. The title is the central premise, a recently discovered manuscript of a tale by an ancient Greek writer, Antonius Diogenes. This fantastic and mythical tale becomes a background for Doerr’s story of three episodes in human history. He follows the lives of Anna and Omeir, who live in the 15th century; Zeno and Seymour who live in contemporary times; and Konstance who lives in the future. The link: the power of the story, the book, the word. And when available, the wonder of books gathered together, into a library, whether an ancient room of papyrus scrolls, a brick and mortar 20th century version or a possible virtual library of the future. The Greek tale, of Aethon who wishes to meet the gods in Cloud Cuckoo Land, goes through torments to get there, and…what… The folios have become very damaged over the centuries but so many who happened upon them valued the words and continued the chain, passing the story on. The ending of the myth, well that is open to interpretation. While some who do not enjoy divided storylines might not appreciate Cloud Cuckoo Land, there is so much here to enjoy: a look at the personal work of translating and the joy of success which can help offset some of life’s other hardships, a fascinating look at life in Constantinople on the eve of its downfall, a projected future for humans fueled by climate crisis. And as always with Doerr, there are episodes of magical prose. A 4.5* rating due to some perceived slowness to start, but rounded up. A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    Reading this book required a fair bit of work and a lot of note-taking. The book jumped around among characters, places and time periods. Especially in the beginning of the book, I needed a chart. The various characters are linked by the love of libraries and books, particularly “Cloud Cuckoo Land” which is an ancient codex written by Antonius Diogenes. It describes a city in the clouds between earth and heaven. “Part fairy tale, part fool’s errand, part science-fiction, part utopian satire” it Reading this book required a fair bit of work and a lot of note-taking. The book jumped around among characters, places and time periods. Especially in the beginning of the book, I needed a chart. The various characters are linked by the love of libraries and books, particularly “Cloud Cuckoo Land” which is an ancient codex written by Antonius Diogenes. It describes a city in the clouds between earth and heaven. “Part fairy tale, part fool’s errand, part science-fiction, part utopian satire” it tells the story of Aethon. Konstance, in the future, is on a spaceship with her family on a very long voyage to a new planet. She learned about Cloud Cuckoo Land from her father. In 2020, Zeno Ninis and Seymour Stuhlman meet at the Lakeport, Idaho Public Library, where Zeno is directing a group of school children in a dramatization of Cloud Cuckoo Land. Anna and Omeir meet during the siege of Constantinople in the 1400s. Anna has a copy of Cloud Cuckoo Land. Each of these characters has an interesting story, although I found parts of the Konstance and Seymour stories a little confusing because I don’t really understand virtual reality. My favorite parts of the book were about Zeno who was orphaned, captured during the Korean War and taught himself how to translate ancient literature. The writing held my interest throughout as it gradually revealed the connections between the characters. This book was strange and different and I enjoyed it. Most of the audiobook was narrated by Marin Ireland. Simon Jones narrated the excerpts from Cloud Cuckoo Land. Each did an excellent job. 4.5 stars I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    Here is one of those times when I feel so fortunate to get my hands on an early read of what promises to be THE book of the fall. Anthony Doerr has such a well honed reputation, and already has one beloved masterpiece under his belt, but he'll have to make room on his shelves for more awards because he's not done yet. Cloud Cuckoo Land is a title I would not usually gravitate towards, nor is the subject matter -- three disparate eras, all connected by an ancient Greek text with an imperfect prov Here is one of those times when I feel so fortunate to get my hands on an early read of what promises to be THE book of the fall. Anthony Doerr has such a well honed reputation, and already has one beloved masterpiece under his belt, but he'll have to make room on his shelves for more awards because he's not done yet. Cloud Cuckoo Land is a title I would not usually gravitate towards, nor is the subject matter -- three disparate eras, all connected by an ancient Greek text with an imperfect provenance and folios out of order and incomplete. And yet, the life of a fifteenth century Bosnian farmer's and a young orphan girl's slavish experience in a Constantinople embroidery factory kept me enraptured with each page. Then there is an event in a library in Idaho in 2020. Finally, a young girl and her family in a spaceship headed to a planet simulating earth that won't be reached for generations into the future. Each of these segments, told contemporaneously, seems to carry no connectivity, and yet in conclusion they mesh perfectly. This is not just a work of art but also a wakeup call. And worth every minute you spend reading it. Kudos.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Selena

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A beautifully complex and extraordinary read Thank you Netgalley for my advanced copy of Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. I didn't think twice when requested a copy of this book. Although it was nothing like what I was expecting, I was absolutely amazed at how much I loved and was consumed by this book. I have never read anything quite like this. Cloud Cuckoo Land left me speechless and in awe of such an amazing work of art. The story revolves around an old Greek book. The book travels from th A beautifully complex and extraordinary read Thank you Netgalley for my advanced copy of Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. I didn't think twice when requested a copy of this book. Although it was nothing like what I was expecting, I was absolutely amazed at how much I loved and was consumed by this book. I have never read anything quite like this. Cloud Cuckoo Land left me speechless and in awe of such an amazing work of art. The story revolves around an old Greek book. The book travels from the past, present and future and then as the story progresses all of them are weaved together in one masterful story. A world of challenges, hope, love, fear and heartache.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Maxwell

    This sounds like a David Mitchell novel! I'm intrigued. I've been waiting for a new Anthony Doerr book for years now, as we all have been I'm sure :) This sounds like a David Mitchell novel! I'm intrigued. I've been waiting for a new Anthony Doerr book for years now, as we all have been I'm sure :)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Candie

    3.5 stars I really enjoyed the premise of this story and thought it was very unique and interesting. The characters were well done and I actually enjoyed all of the different point of views pretty equally although, I particularly enjoyed the Konstance chapters with their sci-fi twist. It was very beautiful and descriptive writing that really focused on the impact that your own personal story has on others; it really dives into how interconnected people are not just in the present but over generat 3.5 stars I really enjoyed the premise of this story and thought it was very unique and interesting. The characters were well done and I actually enjoyed all of the different point of views pretty equally although, I particularly enjoyed the Konstance chapters with their sci-fi twist. It was very beautiful and descriptive writing that really focused on the impact that your own personal story has on others; it really dives into how interconnected people are not just in the present but over generations. The thing that doesn't seem to work for me was the same issue that I had with his previous book, the short chapters and how it switches between points of view so quickly make it very hard for me to stay focused and connect to the characters. I think the writing style of this author may not be for me but if you liked All The Light We Cannot See, I think you will really like this. The author stays very true to his writing style. Overall, this was not a personal favorite of mine but I do still recommend this book because based on the success of his past books I think many people are going to love it!! "Each morning comes along and you assume it will be similar enough to the previous one - that you will be safe, that your family will be alive, that you will be together, that life will remain mostly as it was. Then a moment arrives and changes everything." I received an advanced copy of this book through the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    ‘A text—a book—is a resting place for the memories of people who have lived before. A way for the memory to stay fixed after the soul has traveled on. But books, like people, die too. They die in fires or floods or in the mouths of worms or at the whims of tyrants. If they are not safeguarded, they go out of the world. And when a book goes out of the world, the memory dies a second death.’ Anthony Doerr- Cloud Cuckoo Land Wow! This was unlike anything I’ve read! Even after letting this simmer in ‘A text—a book—is a resting place for the memories of people who have lived before. A way for the memory to stay fixed after the soul has traveled on. But books, like people, die too. They die in fires or floods or in the mouths of worms or at the whims of tyrants. If they are not safeguarded, they go out of the world. And when a book goes out of the world, the memory dies a second death.’ Anthony Doerr- Cloud Cuckoo Land Wow! This was unlike anything I’ve read! Even after letting this simmer in my thoughts I’m still at a loss as to how to review it. Like Doerr's previous novel this is beautifully & descriptively told with characters that are unique and well developed. I loved all of the stories and their eventual connection to each other. My only criticism is that I wish there had been more clarity in Konstance‘s story’s ending. Warning to potential readers- this is completely different from All the Light We Can Not See. If going into this with that expectation I fear readers will be disappointed and not give it a chance. My best summarization is that this is a novel about the importance of stories and how these stories transcend time & place. Most importantly this is a tribute to how a story has the power to change people. 4.5 stars. ‘Time: the most violent war engine of all.’ ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ron Charles

    Librarians and bookworms throughout time are the heroes of Anthony Doerr’s exceedingly busy new novel, “Cloud Cuckoo Land.” Think of it as a triptych love letter to the millions of readers who made his previous novel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning “All the Light We Cannot See,” a phenomenal bestseller. Once again, Doerr presents young people caught in the fires of war, but his stage this time around is far vaster than the plight of two children during World War II. “Cloud Cuckoo Land” struts across Librarians and bookworms throughout time are the heroes of Anthony Doerr’s exceedingly busy new novel, “Cloud Cuckoo Land.” Think of it as a triptych love letter to the millions of readers who made his previous novel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning “All the Light We Cannot See,” a phenomenal bestseller. Once again, Doerr presents young people caught in the fires of war, but his stage this time around is far vaster than the plight of two children during World War II. “Cloud Cuckoo Land” struts across millennia. Wear comfortable shoes and remember to stay hydrated. This is a big novel of people thinking big thoughts. The earliest action takes place in the mid-15th century when Omeir, an ostracized boy with a cleft palate, is conscripted into the Ottoman army and becomes a reluctant witness to one of history’s most consequential battles. The new sultan is marching on Constantinople with a set of mighty cannons that may allow him to breach the city’s ancient walls. (Spoiler alert: He does.) After cleaning army latrines, Omeir “wonders at the mystery of how one god can manage the thoughts and terrors of so many.” Meanwhile, as preparation for that military assault grinds on, an orphan named Anna works at an embroidery house inside Constantinople. Like the young oxherd outside the city walls, she considers profound questions, too, like “How do men convince themselves that others must die so they might live?” Desperate to raise money to heal her sickly sister, Anna starts plucking ancient manuscripts from an abandoned priory at the edge of the city and selling them to well-heeled Italian book collectors. They work for a pre-Google nobleman who dreams of erecting “a library to. . . . To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entert...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

    I remember reading Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See and being in awe of his superbly exquisite prose and character development. As soon as I saw that Anthony Doerr had written a new book I knew I had to read it. Cloud Cuckoo Land was equally as impressive and so well imagined. I have to admit that I was quite confused for a good part of this book, though. Be prepared…there are many characters and three distinct time periods that Doerr took the liberty of switching between. Doerr alter I remember reading Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See and being in awe of his superbly exquisite prose and character development. As soon as I saw that Anthony Doerr had written a new book I knew I had to read it. Cloud Cuckoo Land was equally as impressive and so well imagined. I have to admit that I was quite confused for a good part of this book, though. Be prepared…there are many characters and three distinct time periods that Doerr took the liberty of switching between. Doerr alternated the chapters in Cloud Cuckoo Land between the three distinct time periods and the storylines of the various characters of that time period. Just when I thought I was getting a handle on the story the time period would change and I had to really concentrate to figure out what was happening again. Thankfully, Doerr expertly brought all three time periods, past, present and future, and all the characters together by the end of Cloud Cuckoo Land with the inclusion of one final ending twist. Cloud Cuckoo Land explored the past in Constantinople with the orphan Anna and the disfigured boy, Omeir in the 1400’s with the Siege of Constantinople and the discovery of the library book about Aethon. The present time occurred in Lakeport, Idaho and involved the troubled boy, Seymour, who was very aware of and deeply affected by the abuse the environment suffered by the hands of man. As a result, Seymour became an ecoterrorist and put Zeno, the translator of old languages, five elementary age children and some library personnel at risk with his planted home made bomb. Zeno had translated the Greek play Aethon and was helping a group of five elementary students rehearse and perform the play at the local library when Seymour appeared and proceeded to hide his bomb. The final time period took place in the future with Konstance. She was a fourteen year old girl that resided in a spacecraft manned by Sybil headed for a “new Earth”. The common thread that connected and wove all three time periods together was the Greek play, Aethon. Cloud Cuckoo Land was about survival, a love for libraries, friendships, love, war, a love for books and the written word, resilience and hope from the perspective of children on the verge of adulthood over different time periods and locations, fear and chaos. It was a mixture of science fiction, historical fiction, Greek mythology, and fairytale. Cloud Cuckcoo Land was beautifully written and came together so splendidly by the end. The characters were unique and so well thought out. Although I was frustrated for a good portion of this book while I tried to connect with each time period and so many characters, I was so glad I stuck with this story. It was so worth it by the end! I highly recommend this book. Thank you to Simon & Schuster/ Scribner for allowing me to read this advanced digital copy of Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    This was an obvious choice for me to read since I enjoyed All the Light We Cannot See so much by this author. The second reason I wanted to read this book was because the title intrigued me. I had never heard the express "cloud cuckoo land" so I looked it up and found the meaning in Wikipaedia: "Cloud cuckoo land is a state of absurdly, over-optimistic fantasy or an unrealistically idealistic state where everything is perfect. Someone who is said to "live in cloud cuckoo land" is a person who th This was an obvious choice for me to read since I enjoyed All the Light We Cannot See so much by this author. The second reason I wanted to read this book was because the title intrigued me. I had never heard the express "cloud cuckoo land" so I looked it up and found the meaning in Wikipaedia: "Cloud cuckoo land is a state of absurdly, over-optimistic fantasy or an unrealistically idealistic state where everything is perfect. Someone who is said to "live in cloud cuckoo land" is a person who thinks that things that are completely impossible might happen, rather than understanding how things really are.[1] It also hints that the person referred to is naive, unaware of realities or deranged in holding such an optimistic belief. In the modern world, a "cloud cuckoo lander" is defined as someone who is seen as "crazy" or "strange" by most average people, often doing or saying things that seemingly only make sense to themselves, but also exhibit cleverness at times in ways no one else would think of.[2]" The term originated from the Greek comic dramatist Aristophanes (450 - 385 BC) in 'The Birds'. This book encompasses that meaning with four stories set across four time periods. The book moves back and forth between the characters' stories, and each is fascinating. The stories are of Anna, Omeir, Seymour, Zeno, and Konstance, and each is very different yet alike in that they are all outside of mainstream society and they all have their own dreams. These stories all have a central core of hope running throughout the book. My favorite was Konstance's story, I think, although I liked all of them. This book crosses many genres and is compelling. Thanks to Scribner through Netgalley for an advance copy. This will be published on September 28, 2021.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Peter Boyle

    It's been a while since we've heard from Anthony Doerr. But to cut him some slack, the Pulitzer Prize winning All the Light We Cannot See is a tough act to follow. And to be fair he has tried to do something completely different with Cloud Cuckoo Land, an audacious, sweeping effort that spans time and space. There are multiple storylines within this sprawling novel. In the present day, 86-year-old Zeno helps a group of children to stage a play in a smalltown library. What he doesn't know is that It's been a while since we've heard from Anthony Doerr. But to cut him some slack, the Pulitzer Prize winning All the Light We Cannot See is a tough act to follow. And to be fair he has tried to do something completely different with Cloud Cuckoo Land, an audacious, sweeping effort that spans time and space. There are multiple storylines within this sprawling novel. In the present day, 86-year-old Zeno helps a group of children to stage a play in a smalltown library. What he doesn't know is that a teenager with eco-terrorist leanings is waiting to set off a bomb in the building. In 15th century Constantinople, Anna is a failure as a seamstress but ends up under the spell of books. Late at night she leaves the city to explore abandoned buildings, in attempts to acquire rare and valuable tomes. Meanwhile, Omeir, a farmer's son who is ostracised for his cleft lip, looks after his two oxen, not realising that his peaceful life is about to be upended. And in the future, a teenage girl named Konstance lives on board a spaceship travelling to a distant planet. What unites them all is an ancient Greek manuscript, containing a story by Diogenes about a shepherd's journey to a utopia in the sky. So what is the message in Cloud Cuckoo Land? Something about the power of storytelling, I gather, though it's all a bit vague. The problem is that there is too much going on here - the narrative, especially at the beginning, is very unfocussed and jumps around so frequently that it becomes frustrating. Patience is eventually rewarded, and there are some wonderfully affecting scenes, such as Zeno's sad acceptance of unrequited love. A twist in one storyline caught me surprise but also left me wondering what the point of it was (view spoiler)[ there is a late reveal that Konstance's spaceship is not a spaceship at all, but a building in Greenland (hide spoiler)] . There are some neat ideas in this lengthy novel, and I must commend Doerr's ambition, but it didn't quite come together for me.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    This is a doorstopper of a book that has a LOT of descriptive phrases and beautifully written prose that just seemed to go nowhere. Honestly, this book just didn't do it for me, but if you are someone that likes lots and lots and lots of descriptions about anything, then you don't want to miss out on this one. Many thanks to Netgalley and Scribner for this advanced readers copy. This book is scheduled for release September 28, 2021. This is a doorstopper of a book that has a LOT of descriptive phrases and beautifully written prose that just seemed to go nowhere. Honestly, this book just didn't do it for me, but if you are someone that likes lots and lots and lots of descriptions about anything, then you don't want to miss out on this one. Many thanks to Netgalley and Scribner for this advanced readers copy. This book is scheduled for release September 28, 2021.

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