I really wanted to like it. I’d heard so much about it, and it sounded like just like my type of book—all about the intercomplexities of relationships and the connections we all share as we move from one life to another (sometimes referred to as past and future lives). Add to that the odd title, Cloud Atlas, which sounded decidedly fantasy-like or science fiction, and I just knew it had to be great.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t have been more wrong. After waiting for it to become available from the library (thank goodness I didn’t waste my money on a copy), I dove straight into the first chapter and landed with a crash.
The author used the literary device of writing as if in a journal for the first section. And while that could be considered clever and somewhat unique, it was instead, boring and lifeless. There was no character development; everything was flat and one dimensional. The author told us in short snippets about absurdly boring details of the day, but didn’t allow us to actually experience or feel these details. We were told that the journalist was hurt at someone’s attitude, or affronted, or embarrassed, but without the accompanying illustration as to why, the words meant little, and left me feeling uncaring as to what the journalist felt, saw, or did. When the section ended abruptly in the midst of the journalist’s sentence, I was relieved. It hadn’t been all that interesting, but I had forced myself to continue reading in the hopes that the writing style might improve, and that I might actually glimpse a bit of story buried within the dreck.
The next section wasn’t much improvement. Instead of a journal, we now had letters being written by some other person of no relation to any of those mentioned in the journal. These letters were sent to someone we don’t know and know nothing about, and there are no replies from this unknown recipient. It was like having a short story (a very boring short story) end abruptly, so we could start on a new short story with new characters, in a new locale, and in the midst of some drama that we are (as of yet) unfamiliar with. Toward the end of this tale, we finally get the connection to the journal: the letter writer has found the journal amidst several of the books and has decided to read it. (How wonderful for us.)
The next section was actually written without a device. Yet, unfortunately, the characters were still lacking any depth or interest, and seemed totally lifeless. I was not in the least upset that he was killed or that those same villains were now after her. The tempo and the plot of this short story were well done, but the characters were not. The best thing I can say for this section was that I finally found out that the name, Cloud Atlas, referred to a piece of classical-type music written by one of the characters in the letter writing section, and had nothing to do with some futuristic city, as I had thought.
With that question answered, I felt no obligation to continue reading any further. I had completed more than half the book, and had little desire to force myself to endure any more.
Will I watch the movie? I don’t know. Perhaps, this is one of those instances where the movie is actually better than the book. Legally Blonde was like that—the book was impossible, yet the movie is quick witted and well-acted. So, maybe I’ll at least give the movie a try…who knows, it may actually be good.