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The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

The Bone Clocks

by David Mitchell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Horologists (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,2762202,507 (3.82)1 / 395
  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. 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 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 (225)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  German (1)  All languages (229)
Showing 1-5 of 225 (next | show all)
ik heb het moeilijk om meer dan drie sterren te geven. Nochtans kan die man zeer goed schrijven. Hij kan een verhaal vertellen en de aandacht van de lezer vasthouden. Mitchell blijft een van mijn favorieten. Maar de subplot in dit boek en al dat bijhorende SF-taalgebruik vergalden mijn leesplezier. Wat een contrast met de andere hoofdstukken in dit boek. Was dat fantasy gedeelte soberder opgebouwd geweest, dan was dit een zeer mooi boek geweest. ( )
  Ward_Z | May 5, 2019 |
I must begin by saying that I've never read anything like this before. Every section has a different narrator, but the novel follows its main character, Holly Sykes, throughout most of her life. I hadn't known that when I was reading and the jump from the first section to the second was quite jarring. Once accustomed to the narration, the book was one strange enough to be interesting but overall kind of a pain to read. There was not enough action and far too much mundane story for my liking. I am glad I read it, but I likely won't try to hard to read this author again. ( )
  coreymarie | Apr 25, 2019 |
4.5 stars.

My full review including favourite quotes:


I had the pleasure of reading The Bone Clocks whilst taking part in the Trees of Reverie Readathon. One of the challenges of the Readathon is to read an author you haven’t read before.

This is a whopper of a book not just in terms of size but also in its sheer ambitiousness. David Mitchell sets out to tell us the life story of Holly Sykes from the rebelliousness of her teens in Gravesend in 1984 to her mellow years as a Grandmother in Ireland in 2043. The book takes us travelling on an incredible voyage through Switzerland, Iraq, Wales, Colombia, Western Australia, China, Iceland, New England, Canada, New York City, Russia, and southwest Ireland. Not content with just that David Mitchell adds a dollop of fantasy which transports the reader to an alternative universe occupied by body hopping souls. There are six sections to the book and each section has a different narrator apart from the first and last section, which are narrated by its main character, Holly Sykes. Each section is told in the first person, and a different genre, beginning with YA chick lit in the first section to futuristic dystopia in the last.

This is a 620-page novel which comprises six novellas, which link together in a common thread, through the narrative voice of the main protagonist, Holly Sykes. Holly is and should be, the focal point of the novel. Otherwise, in my opinion, the cohesion of the novel would have been lost. The novellas work as individual stories in their own right but also add depth and perspective, and certain characters play a part in more than one section of the novel. I believe that this character hopping also applies from book to book, though unfortunately this is the first David Mitchell novel that I have read, so more to come on that in the future.

The penultimate section of The Bone Clocks offers fantasy readers a somewhat far-fetched battle between the benevolent forces of the Horologists, and the malevolent Anchorites. One senses that Mitchell isn’t taking the fantasy element too seriously. For instance, the full title of the Anchorites is “the Anchorites of the Chapel of the Dusk of the Blind Cathar of the Thomasite Order of Sidelhorn Pass.” The final chapter focusses on a disturbing dystopian world running out of oil.

This is a colourful, thoughtful novel, with many interconnecting threads and opinions being voiced throughout. There are times when the sheer weight of the story left me flabbergasted, and somewhat baffled. But all of these loose threads, and uncertainties are neatly drawn together in the final two chapters. I felt engaged with Holly throughout all the stages of her life, and the dystopian ending was very successful, poignant, and emotionally charged.

( )
  marjorie.mallon | Mar 27, 2019 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 225 (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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