Thursday, 2 October 2014

Reading The Bone Clocks

I have been waiting for David Mitchell's new novel to come out for so long that it was impossible to not have high expectations. As soon as the release date was out I had it saved in my calendar. Some of my favourite books have been written by him. This book had a lot to live up to.

The Bone Clocks follow Holly Sykes from the 1980s in England to a post-apocalyptic future in rural Ireland. At the age of sixteen Holly decides to run away after finding her boyfriend in bed with her best friend. She thinks of herself as a typical teenager but as visions and supernatural events occur it becomes clear that Holly is someone much less ordinary than you'd expect. The phenomena follow Holly throughout her life until she becomes directly part of a bloody war which has been going on for centuries without anyone being aware of it.

The narrator starts of being Holly herself but then there is a shift and her story unfolds through the narrative of people around her before returning to Holly again. In previous books by David Mitchell, the constant shift in storytelling was my biggest issue (I don't like saying goodbye to characters) but because the story remained structured around Holly, it worked very well even for me. It added to the richness of the story, to be allowed to see things from other people's viewpoints. The supernatural events start off taking a backseat and although in later chapters it becomes very much a novel with fantasy elements, it mainly feels like a book about a woman's life. (A fairly extraordinary life.)

David Mitchell often rewards returning readers by alluding to little objects from his previous books but in this book he has a whole previous character narrating and it happened to be a personal favourite of mine as well. Although the story is about a woman with psychic abilities there are many more levels to it, the most apparent being our treatment of the environment which is of direct importance in the post-apocalyptic part of the book. Of course, it's beautifully written (that goes without saying) without ever feeling superfluous in its description of places or events, and there is always a sense of vulnerability coupled with the familiar humorous tone embedded in the (at times quite dreamy) story line. 

The Bone Clocks lived up to all my expectations.

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