Print Review: The Bone Clocks

The Bone Clocks

The Bone Clocks
By David Mitchell
Penguin Random House | Random House
Release Date: September 2, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4000-6567-7
SPECULATIVE FICTION

Holly is a fifteen-year old girl, running away from home after a major, if classic throw-down with her mother (“Live under our roof, obey our rules…”) In the course of her self-imposed exodus from her small English village, Holly experiences strange, realistic “daymares” and suffers from memory blackouts as well. David Mitchell explores the implications of the psychic phenomenon that have been manifested in Holly’s worldview by implementing a sort of “relay form” of narrative: The reader bears witness to Holly’s life through the first person points of view of four other people of varying degrees of intimacy in relation to Holly, and over the course of nearly sixty years.

The story as a whole is a somewhat inelegant mixture of popular drama (think Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum,  J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire or even the original Indiana Jones movie), a bit of alternate cosmology (e.g. Neil Gaiman and/or Luc Besson’s movie, Lucy) and the descriptive stylings of each of the chapters. There are characters from Mitchell’s other novels who make appearances in The Bone Clocks, most notably Marinus from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, which makes for some meta interest in Mitchell’s “biblioverse.” However, if the reader is expecting the same nuanced evocations of a time and place, or the poignancy of “Thousand Autumns,” The Bone Clocks falls short. The fantastical elements are heavy and  rather awkwardly incorporated into the story; Though each section’s time, place and attitudes are marked by distinctive and unique details in language and quotidian items appropriate to the respective settings, there is a superficial quality to the characters themselves; and while it is not absolutely necessary to read Mitchell’s other novels, doing so adds to the fun and interest of The Bone Clocks, while conversely not having read Mitchell’s other novels may leave the reader feeling they are missing something.

OTHER: I received an Advanced Reader’s Edition of The Bone Clocks (by David Mitchell) through the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program on August 7, 2014. I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.

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