The Bone Clocks
By David Mitchell
Random House, New York, 2014
The Bone Clocks tells the story of a decades-long war between the Horologists and the Anchorites – two groups of mystics who take very different approaches to achieving immortality, or at least indefinitely postponing death.
Though she doesn’t know it yet, Holly Sykes has been caught up in the conflict ever since she was a little girl hearing voices in her head. The disappearance of her brother Jacko, when Holly is fifteen, becomes the tragedy and the mystery that sets the course of her entire life.
David Mitchell, who’s probably best known as the author of Cloud Atlas, has written a long book, over 600 pages, but the story carries you along at a good clip. You won’t be bored.
The Bone Clocks unfolds in six sections, each narrated in the first person by a different character. Mitchell animates each one of them with their own distinctive voice. Their stories span eight decades but they fit together like an intricate clockwork, bound by small clues, brief encounters, and intertwined histories. It feels almost magical as you see the connections mesh together and the loops close, driving the plot forward.
I was a little disappointed by the last section of the book. It paints quite a pessimistic view of our world in the year 2045. The scenario is plausible, it just felt orthogonal to the main storyline.
Still, I enjoyed the book overall. And Mitchell’s writing is a joy; he’s a maestro and words are his notes.