The Bone Clocks

A spiraled clockface floats in front of a golden apple against a hazy blue background
David Mitchell
4
Friday, Nov 20, 2015

Audiobooks are my preferred method of distraction during my daily commute, and while The Bone Clocks didn't grab me immediately, eventually its clever interlinking story arcs lured my mind away from the surrounding river of taillights and exhaust.* Like Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, this novel hops through various time periods, each time switching to a different main character and point of view. The result is a multifaceted story told across many generations and narratives, but all connected to independent and resilient Holly Sykes.

Her story begins in 1984, when she leaves home in a fit of teenaged rebellion. Holly's special little brother disappears that same day, and the loss weighs on her, shaping an unexpected path through her life. There's more to Holly than meets the eye, which can also be said of the honorable and malicious characters who cross her path throughout the ensuing 60 years. Ultimately the story circles back around to the characters of her youth who can threaten or ensure the survival of her family for future generations.

Holly's world is one we can easily recognize, but with the addition of some fantastical elements like immortality, mind reading, memory wiping, will bending and so forth. However, the few who have these abilities usually operate just beneath our radar of detection. Despite the mystical and sometimes confounding nature of the story, the human faults and triumphs of the characters shine through and really bring the novel to life. (This quality is amplified in the audiobook, featuring a talented voice cast who portray the characters with stunning depth.)

With a pleasant mix of adventure, suspense, love, and ah-ha moments, The Bone Clocks is not exactly a light read, but one that passed the time far faster than I expected and had me lingering in the parking lot so I could enjoy just a bit more of the story.

* While most of the book helped take my mind off of life in the car, the exception is in the concluding section of the book. Set in the year 2045, humanity has overtaxed our natural resources and crippled our First World conveniences. Civilization collapses into the Endarkenment, an all-to-realistic dystopia of isolation and extinction. At that point I couldn't help but notice our petroleum-fueled vehicles and feel guilty that we weren't better coexisting with our environment. This severe potential reality left my stomach in knots! I have a love-hate relationship with this last part of the book, but I still devoured every bit of it. Give it a try and see what you think!

Hope H.

Written by Hope H.

Fun fact: Don't you love the interrobang?! It's my favorite punctuation mark.