Final Thoughts on David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks (by Jill)


Bone clocks cover

Yes, I’m serious. I actually finished The Bone Clocks. I wish I could say that I managed to take a picture of my copy while it was in Yosemite this weekend, but I didn’t. It wouldn’t have been a great picture, anyway. My copy is a hardcover and I never travel with my dust jackets, so it would have just been a picture of a boring blue hardcover with some trees or something in the background. Of course, they would’ve been Yosemite trees, so there is that.

So when last I left off in my seemingly never-ending posts about The Bone Clocks, things were finally starting to get weird, and we were learning about the ages-old war between the Anchorites and the Horologists. Our first narrator, Holly Sykes, has been dragged into the whole thing, and offers to help the Horologists in their last stand against the Anchorites. The big battle is fairly exciting, in a telekinetic, throwing tables across the room with the power of your mind and having them run into force fields made with the power of your enemy’s mind kind of way. I would have been okay with the novel ending with the climactic battle and Holly’s escape from it (sort of the last spoiler, but maybe there will be more), but no. Mitchell decides to jump forward another eighteen years to 2043.

And in 2043, Holly is seventy-three, and apparently the modern world is coming to an end—horrible gas shortages, the internet is down, electricity is rationed to the point of being unavailable, and famine is knocking at the door of the entire world. One of the Horologists predicts a future very similar to this in the 2025 section. I briefly suspected that we might be in for a bit of a dystopian interlude at the end when I read that prediction, but I kind of forgot in all the excitement of the big fight sequence. Mitchell’s dystopia is not dissimilar to most of the other versions I’ve read about or watched over the years, less the Zombies that are sometimes present, of course. I’m not complaining about Mitchell’s writing here, of course not. The writing is impeccable. But doing a dystopia just stinks of trendiness in writing. I would have much rather read about a 2043 that isn’t everyone’s worst-case scenario coming to life. I’m not saying there needed to be a happy ending all around, but to see the difficulties Holly Sykes endures in a 2043 that doesn’t take place in a 2043 that’s rapidly turning into 1843 would have been a hell of a lot more interesting than reading about what Mitchell decided to write about.

I feel bad making derisive remarks about a book that in general I really, truly enjoyed, but I think that it’s my job as a responsible book blogger to celebrate the good as well as not sweep the bad under the proverbial rug. So, who would enjoy The Bone Clocks? Well, I did. But not literary fiction purists—I think this book is best suited for literary fiction people who also enjoy some sci-fi/fantasy/magical realism mixed in with their well-written prose. I would love to discuss this book with Bethany; I think she would like it for the most part, and I know that she would be able to help me dig deeper into the patterns in Mitchell’s work. I will definitely read more of his books, sooner rather than later, especially so I can figure out whether or not the Horologists have been floating around in his other novels….

This entry was posted in David Mitchell, Fiction - Dystopia, Fiction - Fantasy, Fiction - general, Fiction - literary, Reviews by Jill, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Final Thoughts on David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks (by Jill)

  1. lfpbe says:

    I agree – I am so tired of dystopian fiction, especially from literary writers who are perfectly capable of writing other things.

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