Summary and book reviews of The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

The Bone Clocks

A Novel

by David Mitchell

The Bone Clocks
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2014, 640 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2015, 656 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

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Book Summary

An elegant conjurer of interconnected tales, a genre-bending daredevil, and master prose stylist, David Mitchell's new novel, The Bone Clocks, crackles with invention and wit.

An elegant conjurer of interconnected tales, a genre-bending daredevil, and master prose stylist, David Mitchell has become one of the leading literary voices of his generation. His hypnotic new novel, The Bone Clocks, crackles with invention and wit—it is fiction at its most spellbinding and memorable.

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 on the war in 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.

Rich with character and realms of possibility, The Bone Clocks is a kaleidoscopic novel that begs to be taken apart and put back together by a writer The Washington Post calls "the novelist who's been showing us the future of fiction."

Hot Spell


June 30

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 at Vinny's place in Peacock Street and not in my own stupid bedroom. Last night, the words just said themselves, "Christ, I really love you, Vin," and Vinny puffed out a cloud of smoke and did this Prince Charles voice, "One must say, one's frightfully partial to spending time with you too, Holly Sykes," and I nearly weed myself laughing, though I was a bit narked he didn't say "I love you too" back. If I'm honest. Still, boyfriends act goofy to hide stuff, any magazine'll tell you. Wish I could phone him right now. Wish they'd invent phones you can speak to anyone anywhere anytime on. He'll be riding his Norton to work ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The Bone Clocks is a powerful reflection on the ravages of time, be they on our own bodies (our bone clocks) or on the larger things that mold us into shape: family, friends, the environment. Life, one realizes, might be the stage where our drama unfolds, but the end result reminds us about what truly matters.   (Reviewed by Poornima Apte).

Full Review Members Only (871 words).

Media Reviews

Vogue

[The Bone Clocks] grounds Mitchell’s vast intellectual ambition in real heart and character.

New York

Mitchell returns to the genre-skipping, globe-trotting, techno-spiritual ambitions of his astonishing Cloud Atlas, taking even greater risks at even greater length.

Library Journal

Editor’s Pick. Curiouser and curiouser . . . mind-bending, interlocking tales that are reminiscent of a (very) adult version of Alice in Wonderland . . . [The Bone Clocks] won’t disappoint.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. From gritty realism to far-out fantasy, each section has its own charm and surprises. With its wayward thoughts, chance meetings, and attention to detail, [David] Mitchell's novel is a thing of beauty.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Trademark Mitchell . . . another exacting, challenging and deeply rewarding novel from [the] logophile and time-travel master.

Author Blurb Joe Hill, New York Times bestselling author of NOS4A2 and Heart-Shaped Box
If you can imagine the austere literary prowess of Ian McEwan married to the storytelling gifts of J.K. Rowling, you will begin to approximate David Mitchell. There’s no real argument: he’s the best novelist of his generation—and the most fun. The Bone Clocks is a stunning work of invention, incident, and character. The levels of awesome in this book are off the charts.

Reader Reviews

Cloggie Downunder

a brilliant novel
The Bone Clocks is the sixth novel by British author, David Mitchell. After an argument with her mother and an upsetting encounter with her unfaithful boyfriend, fifteen-year-old Holly Sykes intends to get as far from Gravesend as possible. But Holly...   Read More

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The Cathars

In the fight between the Atemporals and the Anchorites, The Bone Clocks frequently references the Cathars.

Albi, FranceThe Cathars were members of a religious sect of Christianity that flourished in the 12th and 13th centuries in southern France and northern Italy. They believed in a dualistic theory of religion, with good and evil on opposing sides, and attributed all the wrongdoings in the Old Testament to the evil God. Believing the material world was bad, they believed in asceticism as a path to God. Since not everyone can follow the strict principles of asceticism, adherents to the Cathari way of life were divided into regular believers and a higher order of men and women who renounced all material goods but still performed basic services. ...

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