Review: The Bone Clocks

The Bone Clocks
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was my second David Mitchell novel, after the pyrotechnics of Cloud Atlas, so I went in with high expectations. Like my Joseph O’Connor experience, I saw him read from this book first. (There were no Bigfoots sighted at the reading, something I’m sure I’ll get around to writing about in the near future.)
Mitchell hits the ground running in a much more linearly straight-forward book than Cloud Atlas with Holly back in 1984, running away from home and a cheating boyfriend. She’s made a fascinating, special character in a way that other books I’ve recently read (WTF, in particular) fails to make its characters (or one, in particular) interesting and viable. I loved the little cracks that began to appear in the story in the (brief) appearance of Dr. Marinus, Esther Little down on the jetty, and her otherworldly brother, Jacko.
We skip to 1991 in Switzerland where we run into Holly again, a more hardened Holly, though she’s not the main focus. And again in 2004 as the partner of war reporter Ed Brubeck (Mr. Mitchell read from this section during his appearance; brilliantly timed, and he even got a cold, to better give the reading in the voice of a jet lagged and possibly hungover Ed). We skip to Holly as a successful author, again, in the background, in 2015, in a very entertaining section in which the author, Crispin Hershey, gets a vocal critic of his locked in a prison in South America and then attempts, on the sly, to get him released and becomes his greatest advocate.
In the following section, the “An Horologist’s Labyrinth” section the latent magic beneath it all soars to the surface, and I found it a little less engaging than the stories Mitchell had told about Holly, Crispin, Ed, Hugo Lamb (from 1991). The heavy mystical/magical nature of the section requires Mitchell to explain quite a bit more about certain objects and rites, which is where it sometimes bogs down, but I still really enjoyed it.
The ending, out at Sheep’s Head, at the end of the seeming world, is brilliant. [2043 is not going to be fun, for the record.] We’ve seen Holly from nearly birth (and certainly birth of her own independent self, fleeing her parents’ house) to her ripe old age. I love that the narrative sinks back into Holly’s point of view, after all, and we get to fade to black with her.

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