The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

The Bone Clocks: A Novel by David MitchellSummary: Told over a 60 year period as the world descends into dystopia, there is something more than what it initially seems.

The Bone Clocks has been highly recommended by a number of people that I trust. It is well written literary fiction with elements of science fiction and fantasy. I think I should have loved it, but I did not, although I did not hate it either. In the end, I am glad I read it, but the 24.5 hours of audiobook were more than I really felt worth the time.

The audiobook I think was the first problem. Due to my schedule, I have been relying on audiobooks lately. The quality of the audiobook  is excellent, but the structure of the book was not well suited for an audiobook. The Bone Clocks both moved forward and backward through time and in print there would have been more visual clues to the changes. In the audiobook I was frequently lost.

The structure of the book is six interconnected novellas, somewhat similar to the structure that Susan Howatch has used several times in her books.  The first section starts with Holly Sykes, a 15 old who decides to run away after a fight with her mother in 1984.  Once we grow to know and actually understand Holly, the story switches to 1991 to an unlikable Cambridge undergrad, Hugo Lamb. There is a connection to Holly Sykes eventually but again, once there is a stable place the story shifts again. The third section is a new narrator, Ed, a war correspondent and now Holly’s husband (it is long into the section before I realize that he is a minor character from the first section) speaking in 2004. Section Four is set in 2016 with a minor character from section two, a once famous novelist. The last two sections are narrated by Holly again in 2024 and then 2043.

An underlying storyline, which is a bit of a spoiler (sorry) is that there are people that seem to live forever in the background, similar to the story in Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed. That connection I actually really liked. But I also was reminded in a bad way of The Magicians because of the horrible people, especially in the second and fourth sections.

As the story moved from past to future, I felt like Mitchell took the easy way out by creating a climate disaster based dystopia. It is not that I felt like his plot line was impossible or badly written, but that it seems so over used at this point.

In a year where I have been reading longer books because I have lost the pressure to post as many reviews, I am mixed on whether I am glad that I spend nearly three weeks reading this book or not. Mitchell can write. Much of the story was compelling. But I was also bored during significant sections and irritated with some of the characters and plot lines. As a reader, I don’t want to be irritated with the plot or characters.

The Bone Clocks: A Novel by David Mitchell Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audiobook

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