REVIEWED: The Bone Clocks
WRITTEN BY: David Mitchell
PUBLISHED: September, 2015 by Sceptre (Hachette)
Book Review: Caveat* “listened to” on audiobook.
I prefer reading books in print, but I also listen to audiobooks as a way of coping sitting in traffic during commuting hours for work. So I had this book slated for audio, and then quarantine hit, so I didn’t have to commute, but still listened in the car when I drove “errands,” which means it took over five months to listen to this immense (658-page, or, 22-disk) tome!
First and foremost, this is an amazing book. The complexity and depth of the story is astounding. The literary prowess of David Mitchell is remarkable. It’s a rich, satisfying venture of the imagination. At the same time, there are sections which are mind-numbingly dull, tedious, and often filled with the question of “where is this going?” Those questions were always, ultimately, answered however, so the patient reader is rewarded.
THE BONE CLOCKS is constructed as six related stories (from five different points of view), revolving around the central protagonist, Irish-born Holly Sykes. The book spans her life, beginning during her early teenage years in 1984 and ending in the future of 2043, when she is an elderly woman, during an apocalyptic collapse of Earth’s resources.
Over the course of the book it is slowly revealed that Holly has unwittingly, and inadvertently, become involved in a battle between two warring factions of immortals: one group who reincarnate “naturally” and try to protect humans, and the other faction, which must murder gifted youths and “drink their souls” as a vampiric way to maintain immortality. As horrific and substantial as this central idea may be, it plays very little part for most of the book, appearing only in offsetting “glances” during the course of individuals’ otherwise normal lives. Whenever a human has interaction with one of the immortals, their mind is wiped clean of the event, and they carry on afterward.
This book is certainly a treasure to the right kind of reader, although it may not appeal to everyone. It belongs on the shelves of literary classics that explore the meaning, diversity, and philosophy of life, yet it also contains the supernatural and horror elements that are often so at-odds with literature classics. Author David Mitchell himself includes a humorous anecdote in the book, in which downward-spiraling literary author Crispin Hershey desperately pitches a new book idea to his publicist and talks about adding some mythology to it, and the agent is absolutely horrified that his author may be dipping into the realm of “fantasy,” surely the last vestige of the failed writer.
It’s a somewhat-tragic, somewhat heart-warming ending (without giving anything away), which is more in line with the acceptance of mortality and our own impending doom, when time runs out of our lives on our “Bone Clocks”.
As an aside, there is a spin-off book, written after this, called SLADE HOUSE, which I read first. Having no idea that SLADE HOUSE was a tie-in to THE BONE CLOCKS, I liked SLADE HOUSE slightly better, mostly as it was a quicker read, about 1/3 the size of BONE CLOCKS, so included faster pacing, while still exploring the complexity and interrelation of various lives, although—in comparison—SLADE HOUSE certainly lacked the complexity and richness of THE BONE CLOCKS.
Four-and-three-quarter out of Five stars (4.75 out of 5)
Full review on Goodreads, here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3773583016?
Friday, January 15, 2021
Book Review: THE BONE CLOCKS by DAVID MITCHELL
REVIEWED: The Bone Clocks