This is one of those subjectively-objectively good books that I could not possibly rate lower than four stars. The story, spanning space and time of life on and off Earth, was at times both touching and disturbing.
I picked this one up because it was pitched as a story similar to Cloud Atlas. While I didn’t enjoy Cloud Atlas as much, I did appreciate the story format, and this book’s premise was much more promising to me. The story format of How High We Go in the Dark was very similar, and I did end up enjoying the actual storyline more.
The writing was really moving. Sequoia is really great at driving home the feeling of connection across space and time. I felt a strong connection through his writing to societal issues we are dealing with today, with the pandemic and aside from it. I had chills reading the final piece of this story. So, objectively, this was a very beautiful book, and I would recommend it to all interested in literary fiction.
The reason I could not give this book 5 stars is because of the focus these kinds of stories have on the plot. Sequoia did a good job of fleshing out characters in the limited time we have with them and connecting them to others in the story, but it was obviously very hard to feel connected to these characters with the time-jumps every chapter.
This issue comes with the territory when telling the story of many different people at different times, and others will likely be more interested in a story that is plot-focused.
For me, I need to have a deep or growing connection to characters to care about the plot, which just was not going to happen in this story. I found myself putting this one down often when the middle especially became too dense with different characters and plot points. This does not mean an issue with the book—I just have different reading preferences.
Despite this, I can appreciate the story and am glad I read it.