The Bone Clocks

The Bone Clocks

3.82 (71,401 ratings by Goodreads)
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LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2014 One drowsy summer's day in 1984, teenage runaway Holly Sykes encounters a strange woman who offers a small kindness in exchange for 'asylum'. Decades will pass before Holly understands exactly what sort of asylum the woman was seeking ...The Bone Clocks follows the twists and turns of Holly's life from a scarred adolescence in Gravesend to old age on Ireland's Atlantic coast as Europe's oil supply dries up - a life not so far out of the ordinary, yet punctuated by flashes of precognition, visits from people who emerge from thin air and brief lapses in the laws of reality. For Holly Sykes - daughter, sister, mother, guardian - is also an unwitting player in a murderous feud played out in the shadows and margins of our world, and may prove to be its decisive weapon. Metaphysical thriller, meditation on mortality and chronicle of our self-devouring times, this kaleidoscopic novel crackles with the invention and wit that have made David Mitchell one of the most celebrated writers of his generation. Here is fiction at its most spellbinding and memorable best.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 608 pages
  • 152 x 233 x 45mm | 800g
  • Sceptre
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 6
  • 0340921617
  • 9780340921616
  • 10,993

Review Text

A globe-trotting, mind-bending, hair-raising triumph. Guardian
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Review quote

A globe-trotting, mind-bending, hair-raising triumph. Guardian He is funny, hip and full of life. Which other writer could match his witty elision of fiction and science, of sense and nonsense? This beautiful explosion of adventurous ideas may well take him, finally, beyond the Booker shortlist. The Times If only real life were as elegant and generally encouraging as a Mitchell novel! He writes with scintillating verve and abundance. Daily Telegraph Every page fizzes with energy and humour. Wildly imaginative and truly magical, this is a big, chunky feast of a book. Sunday Mirror Intellectually rigorous and stunningly imaginative ... a rich and dense, inventive and witty thriller which, if you enjoyed Cloud Atlas and Mitchell's other works will leave you completely spellbound Daily Express Dazzling. New York Times Dazzling ... Mitchell's heavy arsenal of talents is showcased in these pages: his symphonic imagination; his ventriloquist's ability to channel the voices of myriad characters from different time zones and cultures; his intuitive understanding of children and knack for capturing their solemnity and humor; and his ear for language - its rhythms, sounds and inflections. -- Michiko Kakutani New York Times For its experimentation, humour, hybrid energy, and sheer narrative pleasure, The Bone Clocks compels admiration. Evening Standard No one, clearly, has ever told Mitchell that the novel is dead. He writes with a furious intensity and slapped-awake vitality, with a delight in language and all the rabbit holes of experience New York Times Book Review Mitchell's mesmerizing saga is evidence of the power of story to transport us, and even to stop time entirely. Vanity Fair [The Bone Clocks] has finally descended incarnate from the mind of this divinely inventive author ... This new novel offers up a rich selection of domestic realism, gothic fantasy and apocalyptic speculation, stretching around the world from the Margaret Thatcher era of the 1980s to the Endarkenment of 2043 ... Some of these narrators are moving and sympathetic; others radiate the metastasizing creepiness of a Patricia Highsmith villain. Their stories evolve in subtly distinctive tones and forms Washington Post Mitchell is a consummate craftsman ... For sci-fi fantasists, the imaginary world Mitchell creates might be a thing of wonder, a Dungeons and Dragons for literate grown-ups. For others, I suspect the flesh and blood anguish of a long life lived well against the odds will prove the greater pleasure. Independent With The Bone Clocks, Mitchell rises to meet and match the legacy of Cloud Atlas ... interconnected lives stretch across time; human contact is both frightening and vital. This novel electrifyingly unites Mitchell's fictions into one universe while telling the story of Holly Sykes, an ordinary young woman whose chance encounters give her life meaning. LA Times One of the most entertaining and thrilling novels I've read in a long time. Much of the entertainment comes from Mitchell's mastery over what feels like the entire world and all its inhabitants. Time keeps pulsing ahead in The Bone Clocks, and Mitchell pushes his cast of characters into the future, ending the book in a terrifying world. But for all the dystopia, and the mysticism, and the wild and clanging noise, and the flights of invention that have taken place in this extraordinary fun house of a novel, Mitchell's novel-writing rules allow him to retain his great sensitivity toward his main character from start to finish. NPR Mitchell's new novel almost manages to make the rest of his work look hidebound and provincial ... Mitchell is writing about a mortal among immortals, and he never abandons the human half of the story: the fell swoop of first love, the labyrinth of silence where unhappy couples live, the clear cut inside a parent when a child goes missing, the chasm between frontline and home front in a nation at war ... I was undone by the ending New York Magazine Is The Bone Clocks the most ambitious novel ever written, or just the most Mitchell-esque? ... From gritty realism to far-out fantasy, each section has its own charm and surprises. With its wayward thoughts, chance meetings, and attention to detail, Mitchell's novel is a thing of beauty. Publishers Weekly Another exacting, challenging and deeply rewarding novel from logophile and time-travel master Mitchell ... If Thatcher's 1984 is bleak, then get a load of what awaits us in 2030. Speculative, lyrical and unrelentingly dark - trademark Mitchell, in other words. Kirkus Reviews If David Mitchell isn't the most talented novelist of his generation, is there any doubt that he is the most multi-talented? He is, at his best, a superior writer to Jonathan Franzen, a better storyteller than Michael Chabon, more wickedly clever than Jennifer Egan, nearly as fluent as Junot Diaz in multiple dialects, and as gifted as Alice Munro ... [The Bone Clocks] offers everything you could possibly want from a conjurer at the height of his powers - a ludicrously ambitious, unstoppably clever epic told through a chorus of diverse narrators that is both outrageous in scope and meticulous in execution ... The Bone Clocks affords its readers the singular gift of reading - the wish to stay put and to be nowhere else but here. The Atlantic With 600 pages of metafictional shenanigans in relentlessly brilliant prose, The Bone Clocks hits lots of hot buttons, from the horrors of the Iraq war to the Eternal Battle of Good and Evil to the near-future downfall of our civilisation ... Death is at the heart of this novel. And there lies its depth and darkness, bravely concealed with all the wit and sleight of hand and ventriloquistic verbiage and tale-telling bravura of which Mitchell is a master ... It's a whopper of a story. -- Ursula K Le Guin Guardian I was completely blown away ... Mitchell's first-class imagination delivers a complex and exciting premise that transcends into an incredibly explosive, surprising, intelligent, dark and magical story. Stylist At once a gripping thriller and a far-out fantasy, a brilliant mash-up that pulsates with energy, satire and wit. Tatler If I could file a review that consisted only of the word "wow" 900 times over, it still wouldn't quite capture my delirious response to David Mitchell's stunning, funny, sad, prophetic, fantastical, satirical, achingly real and gloriously fictitious new novel. Scotsman It's massively bold and ambitious, but also thoroughly readable, funny and moving. Heat Our most accomplished inventor of multitudinous worlds, which are filled with complex, vital people ... The Bone Clocks features a gyre-works inventiveness that's well matched by (bizarrely) cerebral substance ... his most sinewy, fine and full book to date, a Mobius strip-tripping great novel that will reward bleary-eyed rereading -- Randy Boyagoda Financial Times The overwhelming impression is of an author at the height of his powers precisely because of a deep and intuitive understanding and curiosity of what it is about to live a life as a human being. Oxford Student Something truly fantastical: an epic in many voices featuring supernatural beings, rips in reality and a global battle between good and evil. Yet Mitchell's superlative prose makes this much more than a tall tale: the novel also takes in family love and loss, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and a horribly plausible near-future in which the end of oil is catapulting the world towards barbarism ... It's a globe-trotting, mind-bending, hair-raising triumph, already sitting pretty on the Booker longlist. Guardian Mitchell has a vigorous, shape-shifting imagination, and his pen tracks his thoughts with extraordinary agility. Moving from place to place, time to time, he can summon up a setting in a line ... for its experimentation, humour, hybrid energy, and sheer narrative pleasure, The Bone Clocks compels admiration. Evening Standard Mitchell is a consummate craftsman ... For sci-fi fantasists, the imaginary world Mitchell creates might be a thing of wonder, a Dungeons and Dragons for literate grown-ups. For others, I suspect the flesh and blood anguish of a long life lived well against the odds will prove the greater pleasure. Independent Mitchell's mesmerizing saga is evidence of the power of story to transport us, and even to stop time entirely. Vanity Fair
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About David Mitchell

David Mitchell is the author of the novels Ghostwritten, number9dream, Cloud Atlas, Black Swan Green and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. He has won the John Llewellyn Rhys, Geoffrey Faber Memorial and South Bank Show Literature Prizes, and been shortlisted twice for the Booker Prize. In 2003, David Mitchell was selected as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists.
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Rating details

71,401 ratings
3.82 out of 5 stars
5 29% (20,708)
4 38% (27,470)
3 22% (15,417)
2 7% (5,287)
1 4% (2,519)

Our customer reviews

The Bone Clocks is the sixth novel by British author, David Mitchell. After an argument with her mother and an upsetting encounter with her unfaithful boyfriend, fifteen-year-old Holly Sykes intends to get as far from Gravesend as possible. But Holly is no ordinary teen, and a chance meeting with a strange old woman on a jetty leads to a promise with repercussions many years later. The story is split into six parts with different narrators: a rebellious teen; a self-centred, self-serving young man; a British journalist hooked on the excitement of the Middle East; an arrogant writer with a guilty secret; an Horologist in his fortieth life; and an elderly grandmother. The narratives of those whose lives intersect with Holly's relate the major events of her life in a roundabout way while, at the same time, telling a thrilling tale of opposing forces and the inevitable battle that ensues. The tale is told over some six decades and jumps from small town England to a Swiss ski resort, Iraq, Hay, Columbia, Western Australia, Shanghai, Iceland, New York, Canada and Ireland. Mitchell touches on a myriad of subjects: teen angst, infatuation and true love, career/family balance, literary critics and book fairs, the curse of privilege, socially conscious pop idols, the world's reliance on technology and the pervasiveness of the internet. His characters comment on: ageing ("It's not just that you get old and your kids leave; it's that the world zooms away and leaves you hankering for whatever decade you felt most comfy in"); religion ("..if you could reason with religious people, there wouldn't be any religious people" and "Prayer may be a placebo for the disease of helplessness, but placebos can make you feel better"); and technological advances ("Some magic is normality you're not yet used to"). He gives them words of wisdom ("People are icebergs, with just a bit you can see and loads you can't" and "Mum said I'd learn betrayals came in various shapes and sizes, but to betray someone's dream is the unforgiveable one") and some lovely descriptive prose (The English Channel's biro-blue; the sky's the blue of snooker-chalk.") His characters are appealing and readers may find themselves wondering for some time just whose intentions are pure and whose are not; some develop in depth and integrity as the story progresses. Holly is easy to admire, resourceful and engaging; her use of the rolling pin is definitely a laugh-out-loud moment. This is a wonderfully crafted novel, with mysterious happenings building the intrigue until things begin to fall into place with the fifth narration. Fans of Mitchell's earlier novels will delight in (and quite probably be excited by) the connections (characters, locations, themes) with this one. Once again, Mitchell gives the reader a brilliant novel and it will be interesting to see what he does next.show more
by Marianne Vincent
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