Book Review: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

The Bone Clocks
by David Mitchell

Publication date: June 18th 2015
Publisher: Sceptre (first published September 2nd 2014)
Pages: 613


Run away, one drowsy summer’s afternoon, with Holly Sykes: wayward teenager, broken-hearted rebel and unwitting pawn in a titanic, hidden conflict.

Over six decades, the consequences of a moment’s impulse unfold, drawing an ordinary woman into a world far beyond her imagining. And as life in the near future turns perilous, the pledge she made to a stranger may become the key to her family’s survival…

Source: Goodreads


Having recently rated David Mitchell‘s “Slade House” a full 5 stars, I wanted to fall in love with “The Bone Clocks.” I spoke to a few people who knew about it and it came recommended so the next time I went into the library I hunted it down and picked it out. The first thing I noticed was its size; “Slade House” is 233 pages long, “The Bone Clocks” is almost three times that and it’s heavy! Unfortunately I think the size of the book was partly the reason why I couldn’t enjoy it…

Just like “Cloud Atlas“, this story is told through the eyes of various characters with stories which connect with one another. In the first chapter we meet teenager Holly Sykes and her family. They own a pub in Gravesend and Holly has fallen madly in love with an older boy. When her parents disapprove, she tries to move in with him and finds that he’s actually sleeping with her best friend. She can’t go home now so decides to take her own adventure alone.

I did enjoy the first chapter and Holly’s tale looked set to be an interesting one but when the narrative suddenly changed, I felt lost.

“One moment you’re carrying this loveable little tyke on your shoulders, the next she’s off, and you realize what you suspected all along: However much you love them, your own children are only ever on loan.”

The next chapter told by Hugo Lamb made for a dull read and I couldn’t understand the reason for much of the content, Crispin Hershey’s chapter was equally as painful. I felt that the pages were being filled just to meet a word or page count and at lot of the details weren’t necessary to the story at all. There were characters I didn’t care about and plot points that took us on the strangest tangents. This continued throughout the following chapters and to be honest, I couldn’t follow the majority of the plot which meant it took me ages to read.

That said, I stuck with it and I didn’t hate the whole thing. The one other chapter that I did enjoy was that of Ed, Holly’s husband. Ed is a journalist living in war-torn countries and he’s at a point where he’s being forced between making the decision between the risk of returning to work and the less thrilling routine of sticking around to be with his wife and child. This was the only chapter in which things felt real, things were explored in (relevant) detail and some confusing parts from other chapters were explained as we were able to explore some of Holly’s strange abilities.

“People are icebergs, with just a bit you can see and loads you can’t.”

They say that Holly is a “lightning rod for psychic activity”. She sees and hears people who are not there and this has caught the attention of a group of mysterious people. The final chapters are full of fantasy and supernatural events in a fight between two different types of immortal beings. I can’t really say more, partly because it would spoil the book and partly because I don’t really understand much more than that. Perhaps my mind is not up for this level of complexity on the bus each morning!

Overall rating: “The Bone Clocks” was a massive disappointment. Full of characters I didn’t care for and plot points that didn’t have any relevance to the story whatsoever, I struggled to finish this book and am glad to have returned it to the library. Holly Sykes was a great character but those around her didn’t add much to the story and just made it drag on and on and on. I didn’t hate it, but I couldn’t love it so “The Bone Clocks” gets 2 stars from me.

See my other reviews of books by David Mitchell here:

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