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The Bone Clocks: A Novel Paperback – June 16, 2015
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“One of the most entertaining and thrilling novels I’ve read in a long time.”—Meg Wolitzer, NPR
“Astonishing . . . No one, clearly, has ever told [David] Mitchell that the novel is dead. He writes with a furious intensity and slapped-awake vitality, with a delight in language and all the rabbit holes of experience. . . . In his sixth novel, he’s brought together the time-capsule density of his eyes-wide-open adventure in traditional realism with the death-defying ambitions of Cloud Atlasuntil all borders between pubby England and the machinations of the undead begin to blur. . . . Not many novelists could take on plausible Aboriginal speech, imagine a world after climate change has ravaged it and wonder whether whales suffer from unrequited love. . . . Very few [writers] excite the reader about both the visceral world and the visionary one as Mitchell does.”—The New York Times Book Review (Editor’s Choice)
“Intensely compelling . . . fantastically witty . . . offers up a rich selection of domestic realism, gothic fantasy and apocalyptic speculation.”—The Washington Post
“Sprawling yet disciplined, drunk on life but ever cognizant of its brevity and preciousness, this time-traveling, culture-crossing, genre-bending marvel of a novel by the highly regarded author of Cloud Atlas utterly beguiles.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
“Great fun . . . a tour de force . . . [Mitchell] channels his narrators with vivid expertise.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Mitchell is one of the most electric writers alive. To open a Mitchell book is to set forth on an adventure. . . . In his latest novel, The Bone Clocks, Mitchell has spun his most far-flung tale yet. . . . Strange and magical.”—The Boston Globe
“Magical . . . [The Bone Clocks] perfectly illustrates the idea that we’re all the heroes of our own lives as well as single cogs in a much larger and more beautiful mechanism. [Grade:] A”—Entertainment Weekly
“Transportingly great . . . If David Mitchell isn’t the most talented novelist of his generation, is there any doubt that he is the most multi-talented? He is, at his best, a superior writer to Jonathan Franzen, a better storyteller than Michael Chabon, more wickedly clever than Jennifer Egan, and as gifted as Alice Munro. . . . The Bone Clocks affords its readers the singular gift of reading—the wish to stay put and to be nowhere else but here.”—The Atlantic
“Mitchell’s mesmerizing saga is evidence of the power of story to transport us, and even to stop time entirely.”—Vanity Fair
“[A] literary marvel . . . What we value defines us, The Bone Clocks tells us. Sometimes it’s life. Sometimes it’s love. It’s definitely this book.”—The Miami Herald
“Mitchell’s wit, imagination and gorgeous prose make this a page-turner.”—People
“Mind-bendingly ambitious . . . The force of [Mitchell’s] storytelling makes The Bone Clocks a joy.”—Time
“A tour de force of the imagination, rewarding the attentive reader with both the intricate richness of its plot and the beauty of its language.”—The Plain Dealer
“Told with the skill and nuance of a gifted ventriloquist.”—USA Today
“Mitchell rises to meet and match the legacy of Cloud Atlas.”—Los Angeles Times
“Reading a David Mitchell novel is a little like wandering through a multiplex during that September sweet spot when the best summer blockbusters are screened alongside autumn’s more serious fare. The Bone Clocks is no exception. Mitchell’s generous imagination saturates every sentence, character, and setting to create a story as thrilling in its language as in its plot. It’s my favorite novel I’ve read this year, and the only one I’ve already reread.”—Anthony Marra
“Great story, great words, all good.”—Stephen King
“A hell of a great read . . . wild, funny, terrifying . . . a slipstream masterpiece all its own . . . Mitchell is a genre-bending, time-leaping, world-traveling, puzzle-making, literary magician, and The Bone Clocks is one of his best books.”—Esquire
“Mitchell is a superb storyteller. . . . One of the reasons he is such a popular and critically lauded writer is that he combines both the giddy, freewheeling ceaselessness of the pure storyteller with the grounded realism of the humanist. There’s something for everyone, traditionalist or postmodernist, realist or fantasist.”—The New Yorker
“Relentlessly brilliant . . . [The Bone Clocks contains] depth and darkness, bravely concealed with all the wit and sleight of hand and ventriloquistic verbiage and tale-telling bravura of which Mitchell is a master.”—Ursula K. Le Guin, The Guardian
“You could call Mitchell a global writer, I suppose, but that does not quite capture what he is doing. It is closer to say that he is a pangaeic writer, a supercontinental writer.”—New York
“With The Bone Clocks [Mitchell] has brought off his most sinewy, fine and full book to date, a Möbius strip–tripping great novel that will reward bleary-eyed rereading until he writes his next one.”—Financial Times
“Dazzling . . . Mitchell’s heavy arsenal of talents is showcased in these pages: his symphonic imagination; his ventriloquist’s ability to channel the voices of myriad characters from different time zones and cultures; his intuitive understanding of children and knack for capturing their solemnity and humor; and his ear for language—its rhythms, sounds and inflections.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“As you might expect from a David Mitchell novel, [The Bone Clocks is] big, ambitious, and pretty. But it’s very much the story of one woman: Holly Sykes. Her tiny human life is the thread that holds the various stories of The Bone Clocks together, and ultimately it is what gives the book a deep sense of meaning, and its lasting joys and sorrows.”—The Millions
“[The Bone Clocks] might just become the 1984 of the climate change movement. It dramatizes the consequences of our improvident modern economy in the way George Orwell’s novel awakened people to the ‘Big Brother’ mentality of Soviet communism.”—David Ignatius, The Washington Post
“[The Bone Clocks] enthralls, soars, and crackles.”—The Daily Beast
“Mitchell is back and as genre-bendy as ever. Describing the breadth of his latest epic as ‘sprawling’ wouldn’t quite do it justice.”—The Huffington Post
“Deeply meaningful . . . The Bone Clocks has everything you might expect to find in a David Mitchell novel: Great characters in settings far-flung over space and time, all tied together by ambitious ideas and gorgeous writing.”—BuzzFeed
“Mitchell may be the greatest novelist in the English language currently in his prime.”—The A.V. Club
“A fascinating and moving book about time, technology and even the ‘State of the World.’”—The Dallas Morning News
“Mitchell is a brilliant literary mesmerist. . . . He writes with scintillating verve and abundance. . . . [Mitchell’s is a] joyful, consoling world.”—The Telegraph
“A fantastic, perilous journey over continents and decades. Fans of Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas will find this equally ambitious and mind-bending.”—Marie Claire
“[A] beautiful explosion of adventurous ideas . . . As [Mitchell’s] oeuvre develops, he seems to be getting cleverer, braver and delightfully madder.”—The Times
“Fantastical, ambitious, bold and exuberant.”—The Observer
“A sweeping epic . . . that, like Cloud Atlas, spans the ages and tinkers with the hidden gears of human history.”—GQ
“A cautionary metaphysical thriller that grounds its ambition in its heroine’s human charm.”—Vogue
About the Author
David Mitchell is the award-winning and bestselling author of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, Black Swan Green, Cloud Atlas, Number9Dream, and Ghostwritten. Twice shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Mitchell was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time in 2007. With KA Yoshida, Mitchell translated from the Japanese the internationally bestselling memoir The Reason I Jump. He lives in Ireland with his wife and two children.
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o THE NORMAL WORLD where Holly is: a 15 year old runaway who is angry with her mother and disillusioned with her boyfriend in 1984; a waitress at a ski resort in Switzerland who has a fling with a charming bastard/sociopath in 1991; a mother at a wedding who momentarily fears her young daughter has disappeared in 2004; the author of a best-seller who gets to know the bad boy of British literature in 2015; a cancer survivor who regrets writing her best-seller in 2025; and a grandmother taking care of her orphaned grandchildren in a dystopian Ireland in 2043.
o THE PARANORMAL WORLD where Holly is: a runaway with a history of paranormal moments who innocently provides asylum to a so-called “Atemporal” spirit that is fleeing from its enemies (the Anchorites) in 1984; the last person with serious contact with a sociopath who joins the Anchorites to gain immortality in 1991; a mother who lapses into a paranormal spell and locates her missing daughter in 2004; the author of a best-seller about her paranormal moments who intuits that the bad boy of British literature is at high-risk in 2015; a cancer survivor who joins the Atemporals in their war against the Anchorites in 2025; and a grandmother in dystopian Ireland who benefits from a paranormal-driven deus ex machina in 2043.
IMHO, Mitchell does tie these story lines together with great skill as his narrative jumps from decade to decade in Holly’s eventful life. Even so, I did think that “Sheep’s Head”, his final novella, is a trifle forced and even anticlimactic. Yes, it’s a dystopian world in 2043. Who’d a thunk? But the dystopian stuff, while interesting, also seems like a contrivance and plot twist from an author who didn’t know how to finish his book. Here, BTW, is Holly reflecting on her dystopian world.
“It’s grief for the regions we deadlanded, the ice caps we melted, the Gulf Stream we redirected … the seas we killed, the species we drove to extinction, the pollinators we wiped out…all so we didn’t have to change our cozy lifestyles. People talk about the Endarkment… as if it’s an act of God. But we summoned it…”
Yours truly prefers realistic fiction and seldom reads novels in which the elements of fantasy fiction and paranormal mumbo-jumbo dominate. But in THE BONE CLOCKS, I encountered such fantasy-genre and paranormal staples as reincarnation, telepathy, apertures to impossible dimensions, chakra-eyes, an immortality machine, black magic, an evil icon that resides in The Chapel of the Dusk of the Blind Cather… Regardless, I was involved and actually cared about the fate of Xi Lo, who during the First Mission against the Chapel of the Dusk… well, never mind… it’s an involving and fun read although not a book that I could explain to my wife as we conversed at dinner.
Rounded up and recommended.
(I want to give it a 5, but the bait and switch - which it its brilliance, might be offputting to some. I LOVED it!!!)
A fine quasi-supranatural fantasy which begins in a Heat Wave in the 1980s - Mitchell creates a thoroughly engaging and delightful protagonist and follows her through her life span, through the eyes (some of which are very peripheral to her) of a variety of characters. It creates a superb meta-game in which the readers finds themselves in a new body/character each chapter and must figure out who they are and what they are doing.
Then the dramatic climax takes place - all is revealed and explained.
And then there is one more chapter.... in which everything - novel and all - is subverted. I found it brilliant. Others may find it to be a swindle, but it was clearly all set in place carefully well in advance. This is NOT a sloppy or casual book and makes for very fun reading if you like re-adjusting to a new personal universe in each chapter.