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The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
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The Bone Clocks

by David Mitchell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Horologists (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,6762402,330 (3.82)1 / 433
Following a scalding row with her mother, fifteen-year-old Holly Sykes slams the door on her old life. But Holly is no typical teenage runaway: a sensitive child once contacted by voices she knew only as "the radio people," Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena. Now, as she wanders deeper into the English countryside, visions and coincidences reorder her reality until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life. For Holly has caught the attention of a cabal of dangerous mystics -- and their enemies. But her lost weekend is merely the prelude to a shocking disappearance that leaves her family irrevocably scarred. This unsolved mystery will echo through every decade of Holly's life, affecting all the people Holly loves -- even the ones who are not yet born. A Cambridge scholarship boy grooming himself for wealth and influence, a conflicted father who feels alive only while reporting from occupied Iraq, a middle-aged writer mourning his exile from the bestseller list -- all have a part to play in this surreal, invisible war on the margins of our world. From the medieval Swiss Alps to the nineteenth-century Australian bush, from a hotel in Shanghai to a Manhattan townhouse in the near future, their stories come together in moments of everyday grace and extraordinary wonder.… (more)
  1. 121
    Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (jody)
    jody: Has that same clever connectivity that makes mitchells books so intriguing.
  2. 91
    American Gods by Neil Gaiman (sturlington)
    sturlington: The Bone Clocks reminded me strongly of Neil Gaiman and David Mitchell has said that Gaiman was an influence.
  3. 81
    The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (vwinsloe)
    vwinsloe: Similar tone. Fantasy.
  4. 41
    1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (suniru)
  5. 30
    TransAtlantic by Colum McCann (zhejw)
    zhejw: Both books explore human connections made across multiple generations and across oceans while ultimately concluding in Ireland.
  6. 20
    The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber (hairball)
    hairball: The world falls apart...
  7. 20
    Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (MsMaryAnn)
  8. 32
    Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco (Tanya-dogearedcopy)
  9. 10
    The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (shurikt)
    shurikt: Fascinating character studies, and just enough (possibly) supernatural activity to bend genre.
  10. 10
    The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas (jonathankws)
  11. 00
    California: A Novel by Edan Lepucki (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  12. 14
    Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (vwinsloe)
    vwinsloe: Similar plot points.
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English (235)  Dutch (3)  German (1)  French (1)  All languages (240)
Showing 1-5 of 235 (next | show all)
The wait is over. David Mitchell is back! Please don’t let me spoil it for you, however — I try to be as vague as I can in all that I do but sometimes it’s just not enough. Consider this a friendly warning from your friendly neighborhood Anchorite.

Let’s start with where I stand. I’ve read Ghostwritten, Cloud Atlas and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, and while I respect the two earlier works, it is the last mentioned that ticked all the right boxes for me.

My expectations were, naturally, very high. And, now that I’ve listened to and read the whole thing, I can attest that for me it’s a mixed bag. Closer to Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas than The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, on one hand it’s an exuberant and hyperactive narrative ride, a flamboyant explosion of modern cultural reference, a tapestry of metaphysical mystery and larger-than-life climax; on the other, I feel it never achieves the level of the strong gravitational pull The Thousand Autumns has in terms of characterization and actual, pulsating human drama — all this despite the book being actually two books, a story of Holly Sykes’ life told from different angles, the extraordinary in the ordinary, and a fantasy novel with a metaphysical war raging behind the scenes, the ordinary in the extraordinary.

What the book turns out to be is an incalculable tease for the first 400 pages, where the fantasy plot, which does take precedence in ”An Horologist’s Labyrinth,” is merely referred to and glimpsed at once in every fifty pages or so, just enough to make me remember it’s there in the periphery, and wondering why it is. I assume Mitchell’s goals might be elsewhere this time, but I found The Thousand Autumns to be perfectly woven, deeply identifiable story, an intimate portrait, also full of mystery, whereas The Bone Clocks and its apparent siblings are harder to care for, rather inviting from me detached admiration.

Where I found the first four parts hard to get into, but it’s the aforementioned fifth part that’s such a high-intensity display of literary fireworks that it was addictive, finally shifting gear and pushing for the exposition only vaguely hinted at so far.

I wrote of The Thousand Autumns how ”it’s a joy to see a contemporary writer most certainly not only improving but showcasing such understanding of narrative and language that his work becomes transcendental in how it transports and rewards.” While it will always take time for first impressions to fully sink in, it feels like I’m going to reserve for The Bone Clocks detached admiration: not that it isn’t complex, not that there aren’t remarkably beautifully written passages (The Ásbyrgi episodes are bliss, as well as the Koskov backstory), but I just felt like an outsider gazing in, most of the time. Perhaps you’ll be able to enjoy it more.

24 October,
2014 ( )
  Thay1234 | May 27, 2020 |
I'm not a natural fan of fantasy fiction, but this book is so well written that I was happy to go along with the supernatural elements while enjoying the creativity, the characterisation, and the flowing prose of this wonderful book.
There are similarities between this book and some of Clare North's writing (Harry August, in particular) and while I have enjoyed North's writing, I found that this book had more substance. The lead characters were more richly drawn, and very believable. The narrative flows along without the reader being aware of the devices used. I was hugely impressed and will be back for more of Mitchell in the future. ( )
  mbmackay | May 19, 2020 |
My first novel by this author. And he's brilliant. This novel kept me interested throughout the changing characters and their viewpoints. They (finally) wove together in a great way, and very well-done. I switched from reading the ebook and listening to the audiobook, and I am VERY happy i spent the extra couple of dollars for the audio version, it's amazingly well done. Brilliant voice acting, brilliant characterizations. I cannot recommend this novel more. 5 huge stars. ( )
  stephanie_M | Apr 30, 2020 |
I adore David Mitchell's work, even if I never quite know what to make of him.

In one corner of my duelling mind lies the knowledge that this is my least favourite of his works thus far, although this is primarily an indicator of how much I adored Ghostwritten, Black Swan Green and Cloud Atlas, not to mention the sublime and subtle vintage of Thousand Autumns. Perhaps it's the constant monologues, always so dense regardless of which character is speaking them, reminding me more of Bernard Shaw than of the 21st century. Or the tantalising final chapter, that could have made an entire book on its own, which suggests that a more fascinating and human story lurks in the fringes of what is written here.

Yet, in the other corner, wearing a tattered and post-apocalyptic outfit, is my realisation that I was captivated by this book. I found myself staying up late, smiling like a loon as I determined to get through just five more pages. Mitchell stuffs his narrative with so many clever true-life touches, haunting images, and palpable subplots, that one is never bored. The Bone Clocks is the kind of novel that can easily be revisited for endless tchotchkes lining the literary walls. The characters herein - many of whom, or their ancestors, can be found in the pages of Mitchell's other works if one looks hard enough - are rarely straightforward, with most of the villains complicated and all of the heroes laced with vices.

Although Mitchell has always flirted with the otherworldly, he seems to be a rationalist at heart, so I was surprised to realise how much this novel relied upon the fantastic. Yet, are generic boundaries merely a way for booksellers to organise their wares? Are not Orlando, Slaughterhouse-Five, The Lathe of Heaven, One Hundred Years of Solitude and Nights at the Circus some of my other favourite novels, as they merge literary fiction with supreme gifts of imagination? So, yes. It took me the entire book to make up my mind, but I'm quite delighted with this. If pressed, I'd acknowledge that the extra burden placed on Mitchell's imagination to create the worlds of the novel may have resulted in not enough time spent on the oft-repetitive dialogue, but that's a minor point. Onward to Slade House! ( )
  therebelprince | Apr 27, 2020 |
Vegetarians versus carnivores! Mostly very enjoyable. Could have been a bit shorter, I felt. Not a great fan of fantasy and at times felt it was a bit like an old Dennis Wheatley horror story. However, the quality of the writing makes it very readable. I liked the way the history was recounted from various people's perspectives, especially Crispin Hershey. Not so keen on the made-up tech-terminology of the future. ( )
  neal_ | Apr 10, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 235 (next | show all)
Mitchell's plotting is as intricate as ever, and he indulges in many familiar tricks. Themes, characters and images recur in different configurations, as in a complex musical work; characters from earlier Mitchell books make guest appearances; there are sly references to Mitchell's literary reputation, as well as to the works of other writers....

Mitchell is a writer who will always do his own thing, and the question to ask about his work isn't how profound it is, or what category it belongs to, but how much fun it is to read. And on that measure, The Bone Clocks scores highly.
 
In fact, Holly’s emergence from “The Bone Clocks” as the most memorable and affecting character Mr. Mitchell has yet created is a testament to his skills as an old-fashioned realist, which lurk beneath the razzle-dazzle postmodern surface of his fiction, and which, in this case, manage to transcend the supernatural nonsense in this arresting but bloated novel.
 
Another exacting, challenging and deeply rewarding novel from logophile and time-travel master Mitchell
added by sturlington | editKirkus Reviews (Jul 1, 2014)
 

» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Mitchellprimary authorall editionscalculated
Oldenburg, VolkerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
For Noah
First words
I fling open my bedroom curtains, and there's the thirsty sky and the wide river full of ships and boats and stuff, but I'm already thinking of Vinny's chocolaty eyes, shampoo down Vinny's back, beads of sweat on Vinny's shoulders, and Vinny's sly laugh, and by now my heart's going mental and, God, I wish I was waking up in Vinny's place in Peacock Street and not in my own stupid bedroom.
Quotations
The fantasy subplot clashes so violently with the State of the World pretensions, I cannot bear to look.
What surer sign is there that the creative aquifers are dry than a writer creating a writer character?
My hero is a Cambridge student called Richard Cheeseman, working on a novel about a Cambridge student called Richard Cheeseman, working on a novel about a Cambridge student called Richard Cheeseman. No one’s ever tried anything like it.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Following a scalding row with her mother, fifteen-year-old Holly Sykes slams the door on her old life. But Holly is no typical teenage runaway: a sensitive child once contacted by voices she knew only as “the radio people,” Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena. Now, as she wanders deeper into the English countryside, visions and coincidences reorder her reality until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life.

For Holly has caught the attention of a cabal of dangerous mystics—and their enemies. But her lost weekend is merely the prelude to a shocking disappearance that leaves her family irrevocably scarred. This unsolved mystery will echo through every decade of Holly’s life, affecting all the people Holly loves—even the ones who are not yet born.

A Cambridge scholarship boy grooming himself for wealth and influence, a conflicted father who feels alive only while reporting from occupied Iraq, a middle-aged writer mourning his exile from the bestseller list—all have a part to play in this surreal, invisible war on the margins of our world. From the medieval Swiss Alps to the nineteenth-century Australian bush, from a hotel in Shanghai to a Manhattan townhouse in the near future, their stories come together in moments of everyday grace and extraordinary wonder.
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