Cloud Atlas (Unabridged) - David Mitchell "Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future."

Six people span across time and place. Adam Ewing of the 1850's, sailing in the Pacific Ocean. Robert Farbisher of the 1930's, traveling in Belgium. Luisa Rey of the 1970's, investigating California. Timothy Cavendish of the present day, hiding out in England. Sonmi of the near-ish future, learning who she is in Taiwan. And Zachry of the distant future, learning to survive on the Big Island of Hawaii. Six people, six stories, but they all tie up together in the end.

If I could say one thing about this book, it is that it will make you think. This is a book that challenges what you think, makes you look into connections between people, past and present. It shows how interconnected we all are, how are problems aren't so different from the ones before us or the ones after us.

I don't read a whole lot of "literary" novels, just because they aren't my thing. For me, reading literary novels just isn't enjoyable for many reasons (the pretentiousness, the focus on Making a Point, etc.). All of that probably makes me horrible and stupid, but oh, well, you live once. I probably wouldn't have picked up this book had it not been chosen for my book club.

When I first started reading, I was a bit confused by Adam Ewing's story - and a bit bored. I didn't have a clue where this is going or why I was joining in for the ride. But eventually, I became attached to Adam (once he met Otua) and slowly, the book grew on me.

Each story starts up, stops somewhere in the middle, and then leads into the next story, usually set some decades in the future. This was a bit confusing, as I listened to it on audiobook and when Adam's journal abruptly ended, I went back and relistened, thinking my audiobook was faulty. The clever thing about this (once I realized that my audiobook was NOT faulty) was how each story is in reality a story within a story. The way I see it, Zachry is hearing the story of Sonmi, who is watching a movie about Timothy, who is reading a screenplay about Luisa, who is reading the letters of Robert, who is reading the journal of Adam. Very clever.

The characters themselves were a bit...erratic. Most of them I felt were rather flat - and that includes two characters I was fond of (Luisa and Sonmi). Adam and Robert (who wasn't my favorite, but whom I will grudgingly admit has some good character moments) felt better developed, had more rounded stories.

The stories were likewise hit or miss. Adam's story was dry in the beginning, though it got much better. Robert's story was obnoxious, but by the end, I grew to appreciate it. I didn't like, then liked, then got lost with Luisa's thriller story (I felt like I totally los the thread of who dun what and when). Cavendish's story was just dull and I couldn't care less about it. Sonmi's story started out really interesting and I was genuinely invested - up until the final paragraphs where the story is changed and I am confused. And Zachry's story...well, I just didn't see the point.

The narrators were good and gave solid performances. If I had any complaint, though, it would be about the narrator of Zachry's story. Now this probably also extends to the author, who writes Zachry's section in a strange dialect, but listening to this story literally gave me a headache. Half the time, I couldn't tell WHAT was going on. The other half, I couldn't figure out WHY I should care. Again, not 100% the narrator's fault, as the author made the dialect, but I wonder if a different narrator had read this section, if maybe I wouldn't have ended up taking aspirin.

I see this book appealing to a particular kind of person, probably one who likes to be challenged to really think and one who doesn't mind more literary novels. People who are just looking for pure entertainment should make sure they understand what they are getting into before reading just to avoid disappointment. I ended up not regretting reading this, actually enjoying parts of it, and definitely liked being challenged in my thought processes. A high 3 stars.