Book Review: “The Bone Clocks” By David Mitchell

The Bone Clocks

“The Bone Clocks” sees David Mitchell at his visionary best once again.

In summer of 2014, I was introduced to Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. Someone had told me it was their favourite book ever, and as that claim carries quite a bit of weight, I had to investigate.

(And by investigate, I mean watch the film).

I adored it, and in fact watched it three times in a row. Albeit, I was having a quiet rainy weekend, but still, the narrative was gripping. The camera work was indulgent, and the shots of Edinburgh made me smile.

Recently when clearing out our flats to move, I found a copy of David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks. “Ooh”, I said happily, “I like him!” and put it aside to read. Some weeks later, I found myself doing just that; reading the very long, well written, peppered with characters-to-love, and characters-to-fear, book.

Fan fiction

If you’re a fan of a novel having three acts, and a narrative arch, then perhaps this book isn’t for you. I found it was more a commentary on characters, rather than a gripping story. Yes it gripped me, but it then released me and left me page turning on my own, wondering why certain characters had disappeared.

I guess the regular plotting of a book shouldn’t stand in the way of a good story. But I feel it would have helped here. This felt more like reportage.

Perhaps this book was written for fans of David Mitchell’s writing and his ideals, I can’t comment as this was my first experience of his written word.

Flashes of brilliance

There were indeed flashes of brilliance, yet it felt like we were being led to a battle that the author hadn’t worked out yet.

As I turned the pages, I could emphasise with Holly Sykes, I liked her very much indeed. I could even emphasise with Hugo Lamb, and I liked Marinus. But by the time he had arrived in the missing ‘third act’, he was ten chapters too late and had ‘turned up to the party with a bottle of non-alcoholic wine’. He was, ironically, wasted.

I found the characters brilliantly illuminated in their environment, but left on the shelf. And why I needed to meet Crispin Hershey on this journey, I’ll never know.

I stopped just short of the last two chapters in mild frustration. I had loved Cloud Atlas, and I was feeling cheated. Uncharacteristically, (honest!), I flicked forward, spotted a few familiar names and decided I would finish the story.

The end

For the size of the book, and the amount of time I had invested so far, I felt I owed it to us all to plough on.

I won’t ruin this review now with spoiling the ending, I mean I’ve brought you this far, let’s part on good terms?

I warn you now, only read of you want to read something that observes rather than participates. If you go in armed with that knowledge, you may enjoy it more than I did, for there is lots to enjoy.

Get your copy of The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell here.

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Karlie Simmonds

Karlie has worked in Digital Media for over 10 years, she is passionate about health and wellbeing and lives in Edinburgh with her partner, children, and Pug, Poppy.