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text 2019-04-25 18:45
THE BONE CLOCKS by David Mitchell, Full Cast Production
The Bone Clocks - Whole Story Audiobooks,Jessica Ball,Colin Mace,F. Leon Williams,Laurel Lefkow,David Mitchell,Steven Crossley,Anna Bentinck

My first ever Audible return. I think this book is too dense for listening.

 

I actually bought the book too though, so I most likely will try it again via actually reading instead.

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review 2019-03-14 23:44
The Bone Clocks
The Bone Clocks: A Novel - David Mitchell

Everything that happens has consequences in the future and one weekend for a 15-year old teenager after a fight with her mother has unexpected consequences throughout the rest of her life.  The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell follows the life Holly Sykes through her own eyes and those four other characters during 60 years of her life.

 

The book begins with a 15-year old Holly Sykes leaving home after a fight with her mother, only to have a life altering weekend for herself involving a trip to a paranormal world that she forgets and her family as her younger brother disappears.  The book ends with a 74-year old Holly taking care of and wondering about the future of her granddaughter and foster son as climate change and resource depletion are sending the world towards a new dark age, though a surprising return of an old acquitance results in them having a future.  Between these two segments we follow the lives of an amoral political student Hugo Lamb, Holly’s husband Ed, author Crispin Hershey, and Marinus who is both a new and old acquaintance of Holly’s for a period of time in which they interact with Holly during different periods of her life that at first seem random but as the narrative progresses interconnect with one another in surprising ways including glimpses into a centuries long supernatural war in which Holly was directly involved in twice.

 

From beginning to end, Mitchell created a page-turner in which the reader did not know what to expect.  The blending of fiction and fantasy from the beginning then science fiction as the story went beyond 2014 (year of publication) as the narrative continued was expertly done.  The use of first-person point-of-views were well done as was the surprise that the book wasn’t all through Holly’s point-of-view but switched with each of the six segments of the book giving the reader a mosaic view of Holly’s life.  The introduction and slow filling in of the fantasy elements of the story were well done so when it really became the focus of the book in its fifth segment the reader was ready for it.  On top of that the layers of worldbuilding throughout the book were amazing, as characters from one person’s point-of-view had random interactions with someone in another and so on.  If there was one letdown it was the science fiction, nearly dystopian, elements of 2043 in which the political-economic setting seems farfetched—namely China who would be in trouble if there is an energy crisis and thus not dominate economically as portrayed in the book—that made the denouement land with a thud.

 

I had no idea what to expect from The Bone Clocks and frankly David Mitchell impressed me a lot, save for the final 10% of the book.  The blending of straight fiction, fantasy, and science fiction was amazing throughout the narrative and the numerous layers of worldbuilding, plot, and slowly evolving of the mostly unseen supernatural war that was instrumental to main points of the narrative.  If a friend were to ask me about this book I would highly recommend it to them.

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review 2017-01-25 07:10
The Bone Clocks
The Bone Clocks - David Mitchell

This book was in the back row of one of my double-stacked book shelves. Out of sight, out of mind. I forgot I’d bought it some time ago (and paid extra for the prettiest cover), which is unfortunate, because Slade House would have made SO MUCH MORE SENSE from the start if I had read The Bone Clocks first.

 

Alas.

 

It was the use of the phrase “bone clock” in Slade House that reminded me I had this book. Better read late than never, I suppose, and Slade House was fresh enough in my mind that I was still able to connect a whole bunch of dots. Yay.

 

As for The Bone Clocks, I loved it. I still dislike present tense and Ed’s POV section seemed largely unnecessary, but those are my only complaints. I still love Mitchell’s storytelling, and I think he outdid himself here. Interesting characters with interesting stories (for the most part) tied together by an even more interesting string of events is something Mitchell does really well. In this case, the overarching story is a lot more cohesive than Cloud Atlas or even Slade House, and it builds slowly and almost sneakily to a pretty cool climax. As a bonus, there’s the usual smattering of book recs contained within the text, and while I’m looking for them at the library I might see if I can also discover the symbolism of birds on spades.

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review 2016-08-18 00:00
The Bone Clocks: A Novel
The Bone Clocks: A Novel - David Mitchell "The Bone Clocks" is the first book I've ever simultaneously loved and hated. At least five times during the course of my reading, it switched from a hard 2.0 rating to an impressive 4.5; in the end, I'm settling for a 3.0. In all three categories I'd use to assess a book - original concepts, characters, and story lines - "The Bone Clocks" showcases the good, the bad, and the ugly. Be forewarned: mild spoilers ahead hidden under the tags.

Plot
Plot-wise, "The Bone Clocks" follows a structure of story that I've been hooked on lately: a series of independent stories interconnected by a character, theme, or event. There are six different stories told by five different narrators. All six are incredibly different - connected loosely by a woman named Holly Sykes and a mysterious set of warring cults - and could work well, perhaps even better, as purely independent stories.

The first story, set in 1984, follows a young Holly Sykes, our central character, as she wanders around Southern England following a fight with her mom over her much older boyfriend. Next, we jump to 1991, where we see the heinous schemes of a Cambridge scholar and self-acknowledged sociopath, Hugo Lamb. In part 3, we get a closer look at Holly through the narration of her partner, Ed Brubeck, an Iraqi War reporter who struggles with choosing between his family and his dangerous job. Next, in my least favorite section, the story focuses on Crispin Hershey, a shamed and defamed writer who takes a series of questionable actions to console himself over his fall from grace. The fifth chapter, which I still can't decide if I liked or hated, finally sheds some insight on the two warring cults, the Horologists and the Anchorites. Lastly, we jump ahead into the distant future where technology has crashed, the western world is collapsed, and global warming has wreaked havoc on the planet.

The first two parts are a great read - Holly's story is that of a classic teenage runaway (complete with a twist at the end) and watching Hugo manipulate friends and family to his own advantage is infuriating, yet fascinating. My favorite story of the six was Ed's; interspersed with flashbacks from his time in Iraq, it gives us insight to all of the characters, and it's easy to understand why Ed would both want to settle down safely with family, and continue the work that needs to be done in the Middle East. Crispin's story is boring, confusing, and frustrating (I'll touch on that more in the character section). The last chapter, set in distant-future Ireland, gave a pessimistic but insightful look at what could become of the human race if we take our resources for granted. One issue I had a huge problem with was the lack of connection between the stories when it came to consequences of the characters' actions. Several characters die prematurely, but they're scarcely mourned or even mentioned in the next story. In one incredibly glaring instance, the narrator of a story is murdered to "send a message" to the world...but we readers never find out if that actually worked.

The Horology chapter, however, is the main source of issue for the entire plot. In Crispin's chapter, David Mitchell includes a cheeky, meta comment along the lines of "a book can't be partially fantasy any more than a woman can be partially pregnant". Mitchell is self-aware, it seems, but it doesn't do him any good, because "The Bone Clocks" is ruined by his failure to either commit wholly to the fantasy aspect or do away with it entirely. To elaborate, Horologists and Anchorites are immortal, mind-reading psycho-telekinetic body-hoppers, and Holly can see the future. Each story proceeding the Horology chapter is sprinkled with little doses of fantasy, but it makes no sense to the reader and seems completely out of the blue. Listening to 16-year-old Holly describe an Horologist mind-hop into a corpse and kill an Anchorite in butchered, ignorant terms is physically painful, and one of the points at which I nearly quit the book. Perhaps Mitchell's pseudo-fantasy world would have worked better if we'd learned about its mechanics first, but as it stands, readers must go through 80% of the novel before they have any idea of what's going on in the background (and even then, the Horology chapter explains everything very casually - I had more questions than answers afterwards).

Characters
When it comes to the characters, all are interesting, and many are very realistic. Hugo Lamb, in particular, is one of my favorites to read about. The "casual psychopath reveal" is always a fun trope in literature, and as I read on it shocked me just how nasty the intelligent, handsome scholar really was. Yet Mitchell makes a strange choice with his character that completely ruined him: having the narcissistic, money-crazed sociopath somehow "fall in love" and gain a dose of empathy reads like bad self-insert fanfiction. This is the same man who joined a cult of evil soul-sucking immortals, the same man who, upon hearing that one of his close friends had driven off of a cliff, lamented the loss of the expensive car...and yet, he spares Holly Sykes because he "loved" her? Crispin was a miserable excuse for a person, yet he was a realistic and well-written character who is probably very similar to many of our favorite real life celebrities. Mitchell also throws us a bone and allows some enjoyable minor characters - such as Ed Brubeck - to reprise their roles in later stories. As much as I just complained about the Horology chapter, the Horologists themselves were fascinating...age-old eternal beings who have lived a hundred different lives in different countries, as different races and genders? This was an aspect of the story that I wish we'd learned more about. On another little tangent, it's interesting to note the difference between the all-white, evil Anchorites and the diverse, benevolent Horologists.

Original Concepts
I feel like I've touched enough upon the fact that the original fantasy world was thrown in too carelessly and ambiguously, so I'll focus on the idea itself. Though not entirely original, it provides good food for thought: what makes a person who they truly are, if not a body, a race, a gender, or even what mind they reside in? If a person lives many lives, who are they, truly - the first person they lived as? Their most meaningful life? We see a little bit of this variance with Marinus, who kept his first name, and Esther Little, who chooses to keep her original, indigenous name known only to a small personal circle. Mitchell uses a linguistic tactic to make his words original that I found very annoying: adding "sub-" or "psycho-" prefixes to other words ("psychovoltage", "psychostream", "she subspoke", "he subasked", and even "he subinquired"). Mitchell's writing also did a poor job of capturing the battles, fights, and scrimmages in a way that made it meaningful or understanding; often, I just glanced through these paragraphs. Over all, I feel that if the concept was elaborated on, it could have been a great fantasy series...but that just didn't happen. Maybe Mitchell figured the audience would understand more than they actually did, or maybe he used unreliable narration as a cop-out of explaining everything. The world will never know.

All in all, this book is worth a read, but not a struggle. If you pick it up and find yourself bored or confused, don't be ashamed about skipping to the next story or quitting the book altogether. Skip over any Horology riff-raff if you can't understand it.
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review 2016-08-11 09:55
Epic waste of time.
The Bone Clocks - David Mitchell

This is a gimmick book, which in itself isn't a bad thing if there's a good story in there. Maybe there was a such thing in this, but unfortunately for me all that was buried under heaps of problems.

 

The first ninety pages were a positive surprise. A man writing a fifteen-year-old girl in first person voice can only end up in disaster, was my first thought and indeed it was too good to last. Because the first time jump and second part started the stalker trend.

 

Instead of continuing writing Holly's story from her perspective, Mitchell does everything in his power to reduce her into a pawn and object in the lives of men around her. Holly disappears into the background and is only shown through glimpses in the moments most important to her life and story.

 

A one night stand, a would be husband, the love of her adult life, and then the world saving or ending battle through an alien black woman. That's a bad description but it's the best I can do for the fifth narrator and point of view character. To add insult to the injury Mitchell uses POC to refer to a "Pear Occident Company" and reduces the immortals into small minded trans-phobics with a single line.

 

Fun times end with a second short part from Holly's point of view and with her aged voice, but it's too little too late. The story, its characters, and the author had already lost me for good.

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