The Bone Clocks

The Bone Clocks

A Novel

Book - 2014 | First U.S. edition.
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"A vast, intricate novel that weaves six narratives and spans from 1984 to the 2030s about a secret war between a cult of soul-decanters and a small group of vigilantes called the Night Shift who try to take them down. An up-all-night story that fluently mixes the super-natural, sci-fi, horror, social satire, and heartbreaking realism"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Random House, [2014]
Edition: First U.S. edition.
ISBN: 9781400065677
1400065674
Branch Call Number: FIC MITCHEL
Characteristics: 624 pages ; 25 cm

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SCL_Justin Aug 14, 2017

The Bone Clocks is David Mitchell’s novel about a woman named Holly Sykes and the strange life she gets caught up in living. It does the excellent David Mitchelly thing of having multiple sections which are their own stories in their own specific times (though this one, unlike Cloud Atlas, does keep marching into the future).

I liked the story as it built from a literary-feeling mundane story into a pretty gonzo sci-fi spectacle. Holly Sykes is in every part and she’s great, but she’s not the narrator or even a main character in many of the sections, which is kind of what I really liked about the novel. It bounces around with a bunch of different perspectives (which are not as extremely different as the different styles in number9dream) that to me make it feel like it’s trying to capture the multiplicity of life. The book’s always about Holly even if we’re in the heads of her less than immaculate friends and lovers.

There are a couple of things that I wasn’t a huge fan of, but they were more on the loose ends side of things. The final section was longer than it probably needed to be but it was also the most affecting part of the whole experience. That might be because it was the furthest into the future and the most sfnal. I can see how you could call it preachy, but I think that fits the narrator at that point.

So yes, I liked it. It’s a bit weirder than The Thousand Autumns of Jacon de Zoet, but Mitchell knows how to write characters you’ll really care for (in the midst of weird scifiishness).

DBRL_IdaF Jun 07, 2017

Similar in structure to Mitchell's book, "Cloud Atlas", "The Bone Clocks" bounces among multiple narrators and time periods. The time frame is not as vast as in "Cloud Atlas", since the story always returns to one character -- Holly Sykes.

The story begins with Holly as a 15-year-old runaway. Her inner narrative is extremely well-done and will evoke all sorts of nostalgic awkwardness in anyone who has ever been a teen. As she ponders her life, she thinks about the "radio people", voices she used to hear in her head, and one in particular who visited her in the form of a woman. Quickly enough we realize this is not schizophrenia, but something supernatural.

The story proceeds through the years of Holly's life and a fuller picture emerges of an ongoing war between supernatural forces, those who feed on humanity and those who work to protect the potential prey.

The supernatural elements are intense and thrilling, but even the parts of the story with everyday life as the rest of us know it were engaging enough to keep me reading.

h
harrissusanc
May 01, 2017

Fifteen year old Holly Sykes leaves home in Gravesend one hot day in 1984 and finds her life, family and those she encounters psychically hijacked. It's both rewarding and confusing the standoff between the Horologists and Atemporals happens late and little because much of the novel reads in beautiful episodes of realistic interconnected events, right through the end in 2043. Mitchell knows how to mix in the supernatural and this one doesn't overdo it.

b
bibliobishi
Feb 22, 2017

Whilst not being my normal reading style, I had recently read another David Mitchell book and this was recommended to me I did enjoy reading this fantasy crossover. It did wain a little at times but I enjoyed it enough to finish, which says a lot as its a decent size. The characters were enjoyable enough for me to want to know what happened to them certainly.

l
lb9034367
Dec 10, 2016

Not a terrible read but definitely not a page turner. As prior comments state, the start of the book is very different from the rest of the book. Definitely has it's own .. flavor.

c
ChaChaRobin
Nov 03, 2016

I liked it until I didn't like it. I thought that the beginning was great, fascinating characters and plot, edgy literary urban fantasy appearance, but somewhere around the middle reading it just became a slog. Things took a fairly routine dystopian turn and my interest flagged. I went from "how could I have not read this before" to "gotta try hard to finish this."

j
JBarringer
Sep 24, 2016

I expected to like this book from all I heard of it, but it was not very well written. There were some nice scenes and interesting characters, but the story was too jumbled and the various pieces didn't come together into a compelling or engaging story. The magic system seemed poorly developed, and was not well described.

m
maroon_chicken
Sep 16, 2016

I loved this book. It's not for everyone— you need to be ready to commit yourself, to have true curiosity for the characters, and it will draw you in.

This book is divided into sections, spanning from 1980 to 2040. It follows the story of Holly Skikes, who was dragged into a battle to the death that's been raging for centuries. This book was a satisfying blend of fantasy and realistic fiction, although I think the Mitchell is better at writing realistic fiction— the fantasy battle elements were a bit of a cliché.

Some sections are difficult to read— particularly one about an author, Crispin Hershey, who is bigoted and terrible and barely even ties into the major story arc. While this story seems out of place at first, it fits in in unexpected ways, and I'm glad it's there.

Each of the sections could be read as its own book, and be almost as good. But I'm glad they're connected.

...Until the last line at least. This book has a wonderful final story, with a wonderful final chapter, with a beautiful final scene, culminating in one of the best final paragraphs, and then this line:
"For a voyage to begin, another one must end, sort of."
Maybe I'm not getting the joke. But that's a terrible last line, sort of.

6
671books
Aug 29, 2016

I bailed on this book after 80 pages or so. The meandering storytelling was not what I wanted in a novel. The characters didn't hold my attention and I just wasn't all that interested in the story as it was progressing.

Better luck to those of you who pick up the book and give it a read.

t
tjdickey
Jul 29, 2016

A stunning read, and one that rewards close attention. There is a lot going on, and many discrete voices in different sections and different characters, but throughout there is a constant subharmonic echo of the deeper plot. Images, phrases, names, shapes, all flit from storyline to storyline and drag the reader deeper into the mystery.

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Chapel_Hill_KenMc Oct 29, 2014

Chapel_Hill_KenMc thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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