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Revivew: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

My only memories of David Mitchell’s number9dream, are incoherent and dreamlike ones.

His Cloud Atlas, while full of memorable images and cosmic questions, was emotionally uninvolving.

The Bone Clocks adds an actual engaging main character to Mitchell’s unique exuberant, approach, mixing in the themes of friendship, familial love, mortality, death, class war and other comments on our place in the world.

Fits more closely inside a genre – fantasy battle of goodies vs baddies – than any other DM novel I’ve read. Cried buckets. Best book I have ever read – I think it contains everything!

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12 Comments

    • Oh but it was like being a child again – that dual feeling of excitement at plot and character that I so rarely come across in adult books!

      • We had it a a book group read. Some of the other readers found it ok but with reservations, a couple of us just loathed it – It certainly wouldn’t make me rush to read any more David Mitchell, which might well be a shame. I think it’s probably an age thing.

      • Blimey that’s a big book group read! I guess that’s 600 pages of your life you’ll never get back… I think it’s probably the easiest to read DM, I have to admit that the other two I read had me wondering how the commissioning editor took them at first read.

  1. Okay, I’m going to try it, even though I disliked Cloud Atlas. I wonder which one of you I’ll end up standing behind. The younger me would have tried to negotiate a middle ground, but I’ve come to realize that opinions about books are just fun conversation, and not nearly as critical to find consensus in as, say, whether or not we ought to go on vacation together, and if so, where.

    • It’s very different from Cloud Atlas, very convincing main character and engaging beginning. I hope you enjoy it.

      • Actually, I’m 60% through it, and am surprised to find I’m enjoying it very much. I had expected to line up behind Jenny, since she and I seem to see perfectly eye-to-eye on so many things, and are of the same age. Maybe I’ll change my mind when I get to the end?

        I do have to say that I started out loathing the paranormal aspects, but am beginning to believe that was the author’s challenging intention. I’ll weigh back in when I’ve finished reading. Thanks for the recommendation.

      • You’re a quick reader! I do read the odd fantasy book and so am used to seeing those books on a different level. I do like to reflect on how authors are hoping that we will respond – accepting? allegorical? sceptical? I especially like when it is a mixture of those things!

      • I finished day before yesterday, and am very glad I read it. I can’t say I loved it, but I found many highlight-worthy phrases, such as — “if you love and are loved, whatever you do affects others.” and “When she scansion me I felt like a third-rate poet showing his doggerel to a Shakespeare. When I scansion her, I felt like a minnow tipped from a jar into a deep inland sea.” and “the wood is Bluetoothed with birdsong.” Very intelligent and thought-provoking read, by a talented writer who is also, obviously, a master of the craft. Do you still feel it’s the best book you ever read? I’m not sure I could come up with one “best book I ever read.” But I also can’t come up with a last meal before my execution, or a favorite color or lucky number.

        P.S., I think the author is hoping we will respond in all those ways, which, in my opinion, is what makes this a good read. I like books that are complexly layered and slightly difficult/puzzling, but with a compelling enough story/plot that I want to know what will happen. There aren’t that many of them out there.

      • I think similar to you, I like multilayered books. It’s sometimes as simple as a two layered story. I thought the language in Bone Clocks was a layer in itself. Your words “talented” and “master” are very accurate. I tend to prefer simpler language, bigger ideas, because I get annoyed by people who try to come across as having bigger ideas than they really have by upping the ante with the language. But in this book, the language was an effortless pleasure, and there were the other layers as well. I still think this is the best book I’ve ever read, but maybe I need to read more – I don’t often get totally taken by a book. My other two candidates for best book are What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt and A Landing on the Sun by Michael Frayn, which are much more controlled. Bone Clocks is more virtuoso.

  2. I’m so pleased you loved this. My sister-in-law recommended it to me and I have a copy, waiting for my attention (and you can wait for that some time around here!). You’ve just bumped it up the list.

    • For those few days, I was totally resentful of having to go to work, go to sleep, cook, eat. It really was a roller coaster of a read (not something I’ve felt with a DM before, more of a chore) and I hope you enjoy it.

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