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What readers think of Cloud Cuckoo Land, plus links to write your own review.

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Cloud Cuckoo Land

A Novel

by Anthony Doerr

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr X
Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2021, 640 pages

    Sep 2022, 640 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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There are currently 7 reader reviews for Cloud Cuckoo Land
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Understaning Cloud Cuckoo Land
Understanding this complex novel was a challenge. I almost gave up, but decided to read it as four separate novels, using the chapter names. First I read Zeno/Seymour, then Omeir/Anna, then Aethon's story, and finally Konstance, and then the whole novel clicked! I am very glad that I did not pass on this gem. I opened this book, Mr. Doerr, and I am amazed.
Margot P

Journey to home
I think one would be hard pressed to find a librarian (as I am) who would not love this book. While it’s packed with characters, sci fi/futuristic elements, and a complex plot—at heart, it’s about the power of books and the strength of the human spirit. Totally appropriate for strong teen readers as well.

Loved this book
I really didn't want the story to end I enjoyed it so much!
Margo Christensen

Mesmerizing ~
Doerr’s writing opens new lines of knowledge for me: I research about as much as I read in all of Doerr’s novels. Cloud Cuckoo Land integrates story, emotions, and human desires as the reader juxtaposes story within and story without. This novel is heavy and light and dark and whimsical. Both my bones and heart and sinew are strengthened and nourished in this Cloud Cuckoo Land. Amazing. Thank you, Mr. Doerr!
Power Reviewer
Anthony Conty

Strangely Life-Affirming
“Cloud Cuckoo Land” covers a lot of ground from the past, present, and future. It has so much ambition that you almost feel it is unfair to criticize it. However, you feel more competent when it all comes together because you “get it.” I think I got it. But, if you are the reader who begs for a structured plot and a definitive, happy ending, you may want to look elsewhere for your next novel.

Author Anthony Doerr wrote one of the most polarizing novels, “All The Light We Cannot See,” eight years ago, and those who wanted a clear ending and well-defined plot hated it. If you value imagery as much as the plot, “Cloud Cuckoo Land” might be for you. I enjoyed the ride. If you had told me five years ago that I would want a book whose story was its biggest weakness, I would have said to go back to reading Nancy Drew.

Usually, a novel with different timelines enthralls you or bores you. Here, the one in the future has a ton of relevance for today, while the present-day tale will keep you on the edge of your seat. Unfortunately, the part set in the 1400s takes a little too long to get going. The message is strong, and it all comes together nicely, but it could have happened more quickly.

Your opinion of your IQ will differ considerably from page 300 to page 500 once you figure out how all the threads tie together. I could see many of my friends jumping ship before things made sense. But, for me, it was like a breath of fresh air upon discovering the significance of the “source material” and recognizing how multiple people interpreted it differently and perverted its message.

I recommend this highly to my deep-thinking, patient friends. I would understand if you lost momentum during the long periods of development as author Anthony Doerr tries to make his point. He states that this is a book about books and the power of timeless literature passed down through many generations. His previous work, “All the Light We Cannot See,” polarized readers, and I expect something similar here. Read it if you want to think and immerse yourself.
Power Reviewer
Betty Taylor

Challenging read, but worth it
This is a tough book to get into, a very challenging read. But I persevered, and I am glad I did. At first, I had no idea where the story was going, nor what the past, present, and future stories had to do with each other. But about three-fourths of the way through the book, I started seeing the interconnectedness of the characters and how the love for one book brought them together.

In 15th century Constantinople, we have Anna, an embroiderer, who is determined to learn to read. In a library, she finds a book about Aethon. Aethon longs to be a bird so he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky, to Cloud Cuckoo Land. I loved the character of Omeir, a young village boy who is conscripted into the invading army, along with his beloved oxen. He led a tragic life, so I was happy when his and Anna’s paths crossed.

Present day 2020, in a library in Idaho, 86-year-old Zeno is in a library with five children. He had introduced these children to Aethon’s story. They are preparing to put on a play about Aethon. He is about to encounter the other main character in this section, Seymour. Seymour is a bright young man who becomes an environmental terrorist. I am not sure why, but I thought the “past” story made a good balance with the “present” story.

In the future, Konstance is on a spaceship that has left Earth and is headed to another planet. She frequents the library on board the ship. (I would love to have an atlas like the one she used!) This part of the book really stretched the imagination, but I decided to suspend reality and just go with it.

It took brilliant writing (and quite an imagination) to fit all the pieces together into a beautiful tapestry of past, present, and future. At the core of the entire book are libraries and the importance of preserving books from being lost to history. And there are little jewels scattered throughout – “sybil,” one through whom the gods speak; a character named Omicron and the outbreak of a virus, to name just two.

I thought it was worth the struggle to get to the point where it all started making sense.

Fascinating, but not easy...
I am generally not a fan of books where there are multiple stories taking place in different time periods. I find that although the storylines eventually merge the journey is too disjointed and jumpy for my liking. This novel uses this format, and although I did not love that aspect, the writing and the stories made it worth the effort. This is a novel for lovers of books and libraries. It celebrates stories and the power of books to educate, comfort and transport us.
The author gifts us with characters we rarely read about - my favourite being Omeir, a boy who farms with his team of massive oxen and who is forced to work, driving his team for the Sultan who is intent on invading Constantinople. In each story the attention to detail is astounding - I truly felt I understood the lives each character led - from minute personal details to larger issues of politics, religion, war, safety etc. The novel made me really think about our world and what we are creating and destroying. For me, when a story leaves me thinking for days about such issues it is worth reading!
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Beyond the Book:
  The Fall of Constantinople

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