Sunday, October 5, 2014

My Thoughts: The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell

The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell. Published 2014 by Random House. Literary Fiction, SFF.

I finished The Bone Clocks last night, finally. It's been with me for a couple of weeks now, given that it's a long book and my life has been hectic and I haven't always had much time to read. But reading has provided a nice escape and needed breaks from the chaos of moving and I've been glad to have such a meaty book to escape into.

The book blends literary fiction and urban fantasy, like Cloud Atlas, but powered by the paranormal rather than technology. He also uses interrelated narratives to tell the story. And just for fun, a couple of characters from that book have a cameo appearance in this one. But you don't need to have read Cloud Atlas to enjoy The Bone Clocks.

The main character is Holly Sykes, an ordinary Londoner whose life becomes a battleground in a war between two races of immortals. Mitchell starts when Holly is a teenager and runs away after fighting with her mother over a boyfriend. He introduces the main characters and sets up the battle in this section, then shifts perspective, telling Holly's story from the points of view of the men in her life for much of the middle of the book. Finally he rounds back to her and changes course again for a depressing post-apocalyptic vision of the future. But he finishes out with a satisfying ending that ties it all together at long last.

For me this book was good escapism. Sometimes it was confusing, especially during the big epic showdown between the Anchorites (bad guys, think of them as a kind of vampire) and the Atemporals (good guys, think of them as benign body-snatchers) and the infodump contained therein. And sometimes I questioned the import of those long Holly-less passages. But I loved the characters and wanted to see how it would all turn out.

I'd definitely recommend literary and science fiction readers try it. It got a very positive write-up in SFX Magazine, one of the premiere sources of information in science fiction and fantasy. I usually enjoy the books they rate highly and I enjoyed this one too. I can't say it's a favorite but it was worth the time I gave it.

Rating: Backlist

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive a copy of this book for review.


Mystica said...

Thank you for the review.

Alex Daw said...

This was my first David Mitchell and I agree, you don't need to have read Cloud Atlas first. I really loved the characters too.