The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
~post by Ben
The Bone Clocks, like its creator, David Mitchell, is already swarmed by preconception and public opinion. Widely regarded as one of the most talented writers producing today, Mitchell is perhaps known best for his work Cloud Atlas, along with The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, Black Swan Green, and a co-translation of The Reason I Jump. Much anticipated, imaginative and sprawling, his latest novel proves to be another magnificent book from a writer who has already captured the literary world’s attention. Prior to picking up The Bone Clocks, I had only read one other Mitchell title (Cloud Atlas), so my expectations were quite high. Stylistically and structurally, Cloud Atlas was unlike anything I had read before, and remains a book I am quick to recommend to fellow readers. Opening Mitchell’s latest, I was curious to see if I would be so smitten twice.
The story opens with our hero, Holly Sykes, preparing to run away from home. Things develop rapidly from there, and it seems there isn’t much I can share which wouldn’t be a spoiler. Each section feels vital in moving on to the next. Yet, while proceeding through the decades and new narrators, it was Holly that I constantly looked for. From a fifteen year old runaway, to a best-selling author, and finally to a grandmother in a world on the brink of chaos, Holly was the humanity that, amidst an epic and transcendent war, kept me invested in the narrative. The Bone Clocks is an ambitious work. An immense amount of time and ground are covered in this book and the themes loom over each section as we cycle back to past events with new understanding. Psychic powers, ancient war, and betrayal all play a role, and Mitchell does an excellent job at keeping his readers engaged for such a lengthy novel.
The Bone Clocks is an infectious book. From the first page, Mitchell’s storytelling propelled me from one narrator to the next, across decades and planes of reality to its quiet conclusion. Mitchell, more than most writers I’ve read in recent years, has been able to meld together genres in such a way that feels not only effortless, but sincere. The elements of science fiction and fantasy in The Bone Clocks aren’t accessories, and his humor and more poetic passages aren’t self-serving. What Mitchell has created is an epic, a story which appeals to readers across various divides while touching on the universal themes of life and death, good and evil, family and love.
The Bone Clocks is the type of genre-bending, stylized novel that David Mitchell has become known for, but it’s not the hype of being a favorite to win the Man Booker Prize or the latest from a powerhouse author that makes me want to recommend this book. If I were to say anything, it is that I can’t emphasize how much I enjoyed myself while reading this book. Through hours of flight delays, The Bone Clocks transported me to a reality I could recognize and yet was clearly distinct and captivating. Too often I find myself analyzing or critiquing a book before I’ve even finished the first few chapters. In this book, I found relief from that. Instead, what I found in Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks is a book that works not only as a gateway to broader issues and ideas, but as a pure and engaging piece of storytelling. And that is, after all, how I choose which books to read in the first place.
Copies of The Bone Clocks are now available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com
Signed editions are available while supplies last! (Note to collectors: they are signed tip ins)