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The Bone Clocks

by David Mitchell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Horologists (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,3362722,183 (3.83)1 / 477
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
    The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (vwinsloe)
    vwinsloe: Similar tone. Fantasy.
  3. 92
    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.
  4. 20
    The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber (hairball)
    hairball: The world falls apart...
  5. 31
    TransAtlantic by Colum McCann (zhejw)
    zhejw: Both books explore human connections made across multiple generations and across oceans while ultimately concluding in Ireland.
  6. 42
    1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (suniru)
  7. 10
    The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas (jonathankws)
  8. 21
    Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (MsMaryAnn)
  9. 21
    The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (shurikt)
    shurikt: Fascinating character studies, and just enough (possibly) supernatural activity to bend genre.
  10. 00
    The Overstory by Richard Powers (Cecrow)
  11. 33
    Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco (Tanya-dogearedcopy)
  12. 01
    California by Edan Lepucki (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  13. 15
    Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (vwinsloe)
    vwinsloe: Similar plot points.
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» See also 477 mentions

English (267)  Dutch (3)  German (2)  French (1)  All languages (273)
Showing 1-5 of 267 (next | show all)
What do I think, you ask? I think: David Mitchell makes me laugh; he takes me for a ride through time and space and the world; he loves his characters, and in the end makes me love them; he loves words, and I love his love of words; he tells wonderful stories, which could hold their own if they were on their own, but they are never alone, and he makes me know that as they are never alone, WE are never alone; and always, he gives me hope, even if he makes me shed a small tear here and there, as he did at the end of this book. What I notice when I finish his books is that I miss his voice. He can't write another book too soon for me. ( )
  Ccyynn | Feb 15, 2022 |
Structured around several narratives, The Bone Clocks features the eternal existential battle between good and evil, and, as it should, it has an ending that leaves open the possibility that matters are not resolved. (Just like the ending of Star Wars, the original, which saw Darth Vader vanquished but not destroyed.) Like Cloud Atlas, this novel is more, much more than the sum of its parts.

The Bone Clocks is the story of a succession of people from 1984 to 2043, all of them linked in some way to Holly Sykes, a 15-year old who storms out of the house in 1984 after a row with her mother and a double-betrayal. She'd stayed out overnight with her boyfriend, been given hell about that by her mother, and then 'left home' to make a new life with the boyfriend — who she finds in bed with her best friend.

On her way to what seems like a bleak future, she meets some helpful people, including a nice young man called Brendan who tells her about a fruit picking summer job he'd had during a university break. She also meets a friendly couple who give her a bed for the night, but they get killed.

A lot of people get mysteriously killed, and one of them is probably Holly's little brother Jason who goes missing at this time.

In 1991 the narrator is Hugo Lamb, a Hooray Henry who hangs around with other Cambridge undergraduates and beds women carelessly. Like Holly he has inexplicable flashes of precognition and he experiences things that make no sense but it's too soon for the reader to 'join the dots'. Instead we witness Hugo, untroubled by any moral scruples, constructing success from a middle-class background. He has a contemptible strategy for enriching himself at the expense of a helpless old man, and his Swiss bank account grows in parallel with the number of friends he stitches up to lose at cards. Just when it seems impossible to tolerate Hugo any longer, he has a crisis of conscience brought about by Holly Sykes, but this is subverted by his rescue from oblivion by agents of The Dark Side...

Suddenly it's 2015, and Crispin Hershey is a failing writer, a one-hit wonder on the festival circuit. (Mitchell has a lot of fun with this strand!) Crispin runs across Holly as the author of a bestseller about precognition, and is prepared to despise her, but he finds himself not doing that at all. However, while not awful like Hugo, he is stupidly cruel. Offended by a bad review which sunk his latest book, he sets up the reviewer for a revenge which goes further than he meant it to. Although no one knows that he is responsible, he is plagued by guilt, and sets up a rescue campaign. The problem is, of course, that there is one person who knows what Crispin has done.

The next section, in 2025 is where the battle between good versus evil comes into focus.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2022/02/15/the-bone-clocks-by-david-mitchell/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Feb 14, 2022 |
The New York Times review mentions the 'razzle-dazzle postmodern' nature of this book plus suggesting there is some 'nonsense' in this 'bloated' novel.
After reading more than 400 pages I cast it aside. It is I think simply 'nonsense'and for me life is too short for such dross.
I have enjoyed reading some of his books in the past but have always felt that he tries to be too clever by half, which is a shame because there is no disputing that he can write well. ( )
  kazzer2u | Jan 30, 2022 |
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 | Jan 29, 2022 |
I enjoyed the first part of the book in which we are introduced to Holly Sikes. However, the second part of the book changed to completely different characters and events and it felt like I'd begun reading a completely different book. Maybe the two storylines do link together, but they were too different and I rapidly lost interest.
  Triduana | Jan 25, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 267 (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 (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mitchell, Davidprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ball, JessicaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bentinck, AnnaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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.
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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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