I have put off writing this review of my favorite book of 2021, not because it was so hard to choose (This novel is a hands-down winner for me.), but because I feel I can’t give this amazing book its due. It is hard to describe, but I’ll do my best.
Doerr’s third novel, Cloud Cuckoo Land, is the answer to critics who asked, “What in the world will you follow All the Light We Cannot See” with? Doerr has created many characters and many plots in this big, challenging novel and has connected them all masterfully in the end. Cloud has been described as “joyous,” “uplifting,” and “a triumph of imagination and compassion.” “Original” is definitely a word I would use to describe this novel. Like some of Shakespeare’s plays within a play, the novel is a book within a book. It deals with five protagonists, five plots, and five settings, all reading a fictional novel written by a real author of the ancient world, Diogenes. Reading Cloud is a challenge because it skips between Constantinople during the 15th century, a small town in present day Idaho, and a intergalaxtic space ship decades into the future when the earth is ruined. The characters: Anne, Omeir, Zeno, Seymore, and Konstance are not only formed well and develop into real personalities during their time on the novel’s pages, but ones you care about and will remember long after finishing Doerr’s book.
As I approached the ending, turning pages rapidly, hurtling towards the end–the ending of the novel was magnificent drawing together the different characters and different settings in a speedy way. It was enough of a “ride” to make the reader hold his/her breath. The conclusion did not seem rushed , but a methodical, logical, natural convergence similar to the ending of All the Light We Could Not See. Overall, one is left with the sense of the power and possibilities of reading and books. This book will surely become a modern classic that will “stand the test of time.”
It is a “full” book; full of troubles and blessings; full of sorrows and griefs, full of happiness and hope. Doerr’s novel has been declared a finalist for the 2021 National Book Award and several other honors. It definitely has won a place in my heart and the title of “Best Book I read in 2021.”