Author: David Mitchell
Published: 2nd September, 2014
What Is ‘The Bone Clocks’ About?
Keeping it spoiler free, the story is broken into six parts. Each part is connected by the life of the main character: Holly Sykes.
Two thirds of the book consist of relatable (human) stories such as running away from home, the drunken exploits of students, a holiday romance, a wedding, debating career over family life, finding a missing child, taking revenge on a critic and the life of a failing writer.
Sprinkled throughout are hints of a larger supernatural plot which will occasionally raise its head but doesn’t reveal itself until the final third. At this point, you’re pulled into the world of two immortal cults who are at war, building up to a magical showdown with obscure spells in a mystical labyrinth.
The final phase of the story is Holly’s bleak account of a dystopian global apocalypse in Ireland.
Why Did I Read ‘The Bone Clocks’?
I can remember first hearing about ‘Cloud Atlas’ a few years back. Not the book, I’m referring to the Tom Hanks film directed by the Wachowski Brothers.
What I’d read from the conflicting reviews and ambiguous plot suggested a ‘marmite’ movie with multiple storylines, timelines and a web of estranged, connected/disconnected characters… I’ve since watched the film three times and still can’t make up my mind.
I suppose any film that demands a second or even third viewing deserves respect, but it’s lasting impression on me wasn’t the acting or the film’s direction, it was the source material, or more specifically the author: David Mitchell.
For all the film’s failings there was an ambition to the project that was enormous. I also read an interesting article about it here: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/feb/08/david-mitchell-project-great-experimenter (written at the time when he was working on ‘The Bone Clocks’).
What I Liked About ‘The Bone Clocks’
If, like me, you’re an author reading books so that you can learn and get better; ‘The Bone Clocks’ is a fantastic novel to read. The character development is a master class, the writing is clever and the first person perspectives are at times so well done it feels like an autobiography.
The descriptions of landscapes, metaphors and emotions are beautifully written. There’s even a lecture given by a fictional writer midway through the story with lots of interesting advice.
What I Didn’t Like About ‘The Bone Clocks’
At times some of the sub plots and character back stories felt like they were skating dangerously close to irrelevance. Also, when you’ve created a niche genre that requires several rereads to get your head around, it feels like the author has the freedom to invent anything at anytime. So impossible supernatural scenarios can suddenly be resolved with a ‘magic’ spell you didn’t know existed. For me, that takes away any tension.
Good Or Bad?
Was this novel good? Yes, very good. That much was apparent after the first chapter.
Would I reccomend it? Yes, definitely. It’s not for everyone, but I suppose nothing is.
Would I read it again? Probably not. That’s not to say its bad, for all the above reasons it’s a great read, but it is a long read and I’m a slow reader.
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David P. Philip