The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
Published by Sceptre in 2014
The Bone Clocks was a mind bending read, which really gets you thinking about human history. The novel follows the life of Holly Sykes and the consequences of her choices. There is also a deeper plot underneath involving reincarnation and an old cult that destroys human souls to prolong their youth and live longer.
The Bone Clocks is a book about time and perception. I like the way that David Mitchell compares the way that Holly perceives time when she is older in contrast with her perception of time as a teenager. At the age of 15 Holly was in a rush to become independent and made the rash decision of running away form home. Later in life Holly fully appreciates the importance of family and community, which suggests a change in Holly’s perception of time.
I like the different narrators used for each decade because it enabled the story to become fuller by describing the experiences of various characters, rather than focusing on describing the events of the story sole from the perspective of Holly Sykes. Moreover, the use of different character narrators enabled The Bone Clocks to deal with many themes, including: war, growing up, journalism, parenting and the human soul.
Ed’s narrated section is interesting, because it summarises how the media can control the way people think. David Mitchell uses the example of Iraq to discuss the various dialogues that interpret the reason for the invasion of Iraq.
This book is a collection of short novellas that create one big story. Personally I enjoyed this format, though others may find the book too long and the structure of the story too complicated to follow. However, The Bone Clocks is well written and easy to read, so the length of the novel was not an issue for me.
To summarise, The Bone Clocks is a mind bending read with plenty of depth and detail in character narration. Time is the major theme explored in this book, though by telling a story across 6 different decades enabled the author to explore a variety of themes. Moreover, the use of different narrators enabled to tell a more complete narrative form different viewpoints. The structure is unusual for a novel but I think that the multi-novella structure works and creates on a deeper level a very strong and powerful novel.