Have you ever read a book that was super hyped and thought it was…good but not as good as advertised? And you weren’t disappointed you read it but it still didn’t match the exaltations from others?
Cloud Atlas is such a book for me. I appreciated what it was trying to do; I definitely got the 2666 vibes and 2666 is one of my favorite books of all-time so that’s a good thing. I like how it looked at the scope of history and the human experience. I like the themes it explored of literature, interconnectivity, and the cyclical nature of human violence and need for control.
But I didn’t like it that much. Certain sections drone on way too long, the middle story is almost incoherently told (I really don’t like it when writers invent their own patois), and there’s too much Phillip K. Dick-esqueness involved, which is a big negative as I find PKD to be overrated. It’s 500 pages that I didn’t mind investing in but also would have preferred something else.
All of this is fine but I’m just surprised at the love this book received, especially from folks who don’t like this kind of cross-genre work. The Goodreads reviews I saw from mutuals were rapturous. That’s really what pushed me to read it more than the critical love it received (I’m usually not a fan of high literature).
So all in all, this book left me with a strange feeling: gratitude for what it was and lament for what it was not.