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Customer Review

17 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mitchell deserves his Booker nomination, July 26, 2014
This review is from: The Bone Clocks: A Novel (Hardcover)
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"True metamorphosis doesn't come with flowcharts."

Another genre-bending novel by David Mitchell also channels Stephen King and Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Did you just hear that? Yes, but Mitchell does nothing by mistake. It was evidently deliberate, and he mixes various castes of writing styles, although much less so than in CLOUD ATLAS and even THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET. Mitchell lures in mainstream readers, as well as his steadfast fans. I think he does one better, though, than the latter giants of the macabre. He not only advances the plot, he advances the reader.

"Power is crack cocaine for the ego and battery acid for the soul."

Although Cloud Atlas remains my personal favorite of Mitchell's novels, I was no less astonished by the author's ability to chime all his previous books in THE BONE CLOCKS. Some authors, such as Coetzee, will name their protagonists after themselves in the later novels of their oeuvres. This is more and more common as novelists become established and preeminent. Mitchell, rather than transmitting a duplicate self, creates an arterial pathway and an organic conduit from Bone Clocks to all his other novels--Black Swan Green, Number 9 Dream, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, Ghostwritten, and Cloud Atlas at different times in various ways. He bolsters the theme of connection literarily and in temporal and perpetual ways so that time is unleashed, not as a Western mindset, but rather in something like a boundless circle, mounted from an ancient ziggurat, and understood through the all-seeing eye. If that doesn't make a lot of sense, it will when you read it.

It would be egregious to spell out this plot, which is its own exciting discovery. But, fans of Mitchell will be familiar with how he can change course and slip into a linguistic detour. Less so in this novel, and BONE CLOCKS coheres more obviously so than CA. Holly Sykes is the clear protagonist, even when she isn't always steering the POV. The book doesn't read so much like separate novellas that run a course together, even though there are six delineated parts; it reads like an epic novel with several turnoffs that lead you back to a central story with fair transparency, but persuades you to visualize a maze of narrative junctures and coronas.

If you don't like the paranormal genre, there's a possibility that you might abandon the book at this turn of narrative style, which comprises about 400 pages. There's also a chunk of the dystopian. If you can stick with it, there is much reward that transcends the genre.

"We live on, as long as there are people to live on in."
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 28, 2014 2:23:57 PM PDT
Mary Lins says:
Intriguing! Love your review; I am anxious to read this! I knew it would be safe to read your review because you never give spoilers!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 28, 2014 3:31:02 PM PDT
Thank you, Mary. I definitely think you will love this one!

Posted on Jul 29, 2014 9:25:57 PM PDT
We seem to be contradicting each other a lot in our two reviews, Bug, the first of doubtless many that will appear. But those who have read the book will know that apparent contradiction is the name of the game! The one thing we cannot argue is the book's sheer quality. I easily liked it more than CA, though perhaps not as much as TAJDZ. Though really everything the man writes is five-star! Roget.

Posted on Aug 20, 2014 5:44:44 PM PDT
BK says:
Glad to read your endorsement. I was going to read the book anyway -- I am a big Mitchell fan -- but now I'll feel more confident going in.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 20, 2014 6:22:53 PM PDT
Thank you for that vote of confidence BK!
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