Book Review: The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell


The author of Cloud Atlas is visionary again in his second novel.

In summer of 2014, I was introduced to Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. 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 the film, 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 

 

Karlie Simmonds

Karlie has worked in Digital Media for 10 years, she has previously worked as a fashion blogger and vlogger, winning a finalist position at the UK Blog Awards in 2016. She lives in Edinburgh with her partner, two children, and Pug, Poppy.

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