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The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

The Bone Clocks (2014)

by David Mitchell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Horologists (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,2392192,534 (3.83)1 / 390
Recently added bymads.mcd, stofken, strangel00p, Maripacs, muwaffaq, ishamaeli, Polpofemo, baroquebird, private library
  1. 111
    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. 72
    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 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 (223)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  German (1)  All languages (227)
Showing 1-5 of 223 (next | show all)
Everything that happens has consequences in the future and one weekend for a 15-year old teenager after a fight with her mother has unexpected consequences throughout the rest of her life. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell follows the life Holly Sykes through her own eyes and those four other characters during 60 years of her life.

The book begins with a 15-year old Holly Sykes leaving home after a fight with her mother, only to have a life altering weekend for herself involving a trip to a paranormal world that she forgets and her family as her younger brother disappears. The book ends with a 74-year old Holly taking care of and wondering about the future of her granddaughter and foster son as climate change and resource depletion are sending the world towards a new dark age, though a surprising return of an old acquaintance results in them having a future. Between these two segments we follow the lives of an amoral political student Hugo Lamb, Holly’s husband Ed, author Crispin Hershey, and Marinus who is both a new and old acquaintance of Holly’s for a period of time in which they interact with Holly during different periods of her life that at first seem random but as the narrative progresses interconnect with one another in surprising ways including glimpses into a centuries long supernatural war in which Holly was directly involved in twice.

From beginning to end, Mitchell created a page-turner in which the reader did not know what to expect. The blending of fiction and fantasy from the beginning then science fiction as the story went beyond 2014 (year of publication) as the narrative continued was expertly done. The use of first-person point-of-views were well done as was the surprise that the book wasn’t all through Holly’s point-of-view but switched with each of the six segments of the book giving the reader a mosaic view of Holly’s life. The introduction and slow filling in of the fantasy elements of the story were well done so when it really became the focus of the book in its fifth segment the reader was ready for it. On top of that the layers of worldbuilding throughout the book were amazing, as characters from one person’s point-of-view had random interactions with someone in another and so on. If there was one letdown it was the science fiction, nearly dystopian, elements of 2043 in which the political-economic setting seems farfetched—namely China who would be in trouble if there is an energy crisis and thus not dominate economically as portrayed in the book—that made the denouement land with a thud.

I had no idea what to expect from The Bone Clocks and frankly David Mitchell impressed me a lot, save for the final 10% of the book. The blending of straight fiction, fantasy, and science fiction was amazing throughout the narrative and the numerous layers of worldbuilding, plot, and slowly evolving of the mostly unseen supernatural war that was instrumental to main points of the narrative. If a friend were to ask me about this book I would highly recommend it to them. ( )
  mattries37315 | Mar 14, 2019 |
Tremendous. The reviews that suggested this was a return to Cloud Atlas-style Mitchell made me most nervous as that's my least favorite of his books that I've read. This starts off in Black Swan Green territory, dips back into the Jacob de Zoet narrative and then veers into bonkers literary Stephen King, sci-fi lunacy. I can't imagine how reading such a description would have encouraged me to read this, but I'm glad I did. As an overwound Bone Clock, I found this a delight. ( )
  asxz | Mar 13, 2019 |
First of all, yay! David Mitchell is back to his old narrator-switching, globe-trotting, time-hopping ways, which makes me so, so happy. That being said, while I enjoyed reading it, so much of this book feels like... surplus. Okay, maybe surplus is too harsh a word... You know about The Lord of the Rings Extended Edition that has hours of deleted scenes, right? Big fans will enjoy them, but their absence doesn't really detract from the version shown in theaters. Well, The Bone Clocks is essentially the Extended Edition bonus material to the rest of Mitchell's work.

And I hate saying that. The central conflict is a showdown between Good and Evil worthy of any of the fantasy stories I grew up reading. The problem is that out of six narratives, this Great War is only touched upon tangentially within the first four, then revealed and resolved pretty much entirely in the fifth. The rest of the book is - ugh, I hate saying it - padding. Wonderfully written padding, but padding. The Crispin Hershey chapters are particularly aggravating. (Incidentally, J. K. Rowling's latest book was also about the cliquey world of publishing. Someone needs to tell authors that it is not as interesting as they think it is.)

The bright side? Minor characters from other novels pop up. Besides making you feel clever when you spot them, they often prove to be more significant than they originally appeared. An unscrupulous older cousin from [b:Black Swan Green|14316|Black Swan Green|David Mitchell|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320562118s/14316.jpg|2166883] draws the attention of a dangerous cult. A Dutch doctor from [b:The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet|7141642|The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet|David Mitchell|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320540908s/7141642.jpg|7405757] proves to be a different breed altogether. The Bone Clocks ends with the dawning of the apocalyptic world seen in [b:Cloud Atlas|49628|Cloud Atlas|David Mitchell|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1406383769s/49628.jpg|1871423].. While these revelations shed new light on Mitchell’s other work – especially Jacob de Zoet, which I really did not care for - I do not know if that light can be recognized or appreciated unless you have read at least one of his other novels. Or possibly all of them.
( )
  doryfish | Mar 6, 2019 |
50 stars. ( )
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
What a fantastic book this is. Or rather 6 books. David Mitchell’s sixth novel is a tour de force. Mitchell is no small name: Cloud Atlas gathered widespread praise and attention – and also in The Bone Clocks he serves a grand narrative via 6 connected stories across 6 points in time – from 1984 to 2043, seasoned with a few shorter asides going back to earlier centuries. And similarly, The Bone Clocks is genre defying in a manner that’s pretty singular: the bulk of the book being straight forward literary fiction, but nonetheless with a backbone that’s firmly supernatural fantasy, and a final part that is straightforward, hard hitting dystopian near-future science fiction. This should appeal to nearly any type of reader, and I think it’s a masterpiece – not a term I whip out lightly.

I will return to the significance and impact of the final 6th in the second half of this review, and that part might be of interest for those of you who’ve read this book 3 or 4 years ago. It might be time to reconsider a few things. But first let me get a few other, more general remarks out of the way.

I haven’t read Cloud Atlas, or any of his other books, so I can’t comment on whether this title is better or not – and part of the answer to that question will be taste – but I can’t shake the feeling this is Mitchell’s magnus opus – for now. Written in a seemingly effortless and tasty prose, filled with real characters, genuine emotions, strong & urgent themes relevant to us all – this isn’t only escapist reading. Add to that a broad, kaleidoscopic feel, and an intricately constructed plot that’s obviously visible to a degree, yet so confident that you do not mind seeing the construction – as one does not mind seeing the brushstrokes when examining a Rembrandt or a Van Gogh up close, on the contrary even: seeing the actual brushstrokes and how they work in the composition is part of the joy.


Full review on Weighing A Pig ( )
1 vote bormgans | Mar 2, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 223 (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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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.
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.
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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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"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 hearbreaking realism"--… (more)

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