22 December, 2014

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell [Emma, Birkenhead Library]

Beginning in 1984 and concluding in 2045, The Bone Clocks leaps through time, space and dimensions. It follows the life of Holly Sykes, 15 when she runs away from home at the start; a seventy-year-old grandmother by book's finish. The Bone Clocks defies categorisation, being by turns realist, fantastical, sci-fi, and dystopian - all told in a matter of fact kind of voice which makes the whole thing seem reasonably possible.

Holly Sykes ties the story together, but narrates only at the beginning and end. Other characters who know her and narrate include a failing novelist, a corrupt and amoral university boy, a time-travelling reborn ageless doctor and Holly's own journalist husband. Through them we get the full picture of a world in which behind the human scenes, constantly reborn "Horologists" attempt to keep an increasing band of human-devouring "Anchorites" in check. These are the "Atemporals" - human-looking yet godlike in their powers of time travel, persuasion and sucking out of souls, as well as their memories of their previous incarnations.

It's not really full of weirdness - this stuff creeps up on you. It was not until the fourth of six sections that I consciously realised I was now reading sci-fi. Not my usual choice of genre but I admit this was a very exciting part of the story!

David Mitchell is one of my favourite authors ever, so I expected this book to be great. I savoured it, and enjoyed immensely, but, The Bone Clocks did not wow me to quite the same degree as Cloud Atlas or The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. I think perhaps that the contrasts between the sections, narrated by different characters, weren't distinct enough, and I struggled a bit (and let go) with the 'why' of the storyline. However - I am still seriously looking forward to his next book, hopefully to re-meet some of the characters again!

Title: The Bone Clocks
Author: David Mitchell
Published: London, Sceptre, 2014
ISBN: 9781473604889

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