READ: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

“Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell is on my Top Ten list of my favorite books ever, but I rarely tell people to read it. It is not for everybody. In fact, I think most people that I have recommended it to never finished it.

His latest masterpiece “The Bone Clocks” is my favorite book of the year. So, I HIGHLY recommend it with several caveats:

  • This book requires your full attention and it is 624 pages.
  • This book is not happy, in fact it made me pretty depressed.
  • This book is realist, sci fi, comedic, and weird. It can’t be defined or explained in one sentence.

“The Bone Clocks” is so fantastically good. I love books that play with narrative structure (like Jennifer Egan’s “A Visit from The Goon Squad” – if you have not read it, go get it!) and that cover an entire lifetime of a character. This book does both of these things in an awesome, powerful way. It reminds me of the perfect cross between Madeline L’Engle and Jonathan Frazen.

The book is divided into 6 parts and all of them have different settings and time periods. Each section got better than the previous one (Section 4 is a standout) and they all come together to form a cohesive story. Pay attention to the characters in each part. They come back over and over in unexpected ways. This book bewilders and is full of puzzles. So many parts had me saying “What is going on…”, keep reading, you’ll figure it out.

The sections follow different narrators (2 of the sections are narrated by Holly Sykes, a lovable, sassy heroine).

  1. 1980’s – A runaway teenager in England
  2. 1990’s – A social climbing Cambridge student
  3. 2000’s – A foreign war correspondent who has to decide between family and career
  4. 2010’s – A writer, who has already wrote his best work, travels the literary conference circuit
  5. 2020’s – A person who has been re-born over and over. This is when the novel starts to get really weird and a battle scene between Atemporals and Anchorites ensues.
  6. 2040’s – A woman battling to survive in a dystopic world that seems like our inevitable future. It involves Ebola and Climate Change.

The book explores power, family, capitalism, social mobility, and what we are able to do with the short time we have on the planet. It’s incredible.

Random items in the book I loved: The bad guys are carnivores, the good guys are herbivores (also used by Mary Doria Russell in “The Sparrow” – another must, MUST-read). Figuring out what a bone clock is. His ability to make his readers like jerky characters – perhaps because we can see qualities of ourselves in them. Sentences like: “My generation were diners stuffing themselves senseless at the Restaurant of the Earth’s Riches knowing – while denying – that we’d be doing a runner and leaving our grandchildren a tab that can never be paid.”


If you don’t feel like a heavy book, I recommend Jojo Moyes latest  “One plus One.” She reminds me of a modern Maeve Binchy. She writes good books about ordinary people in England, and her books seem familiar (they are like good cheesy, romantic movies that involve silly misunderstandings, smart children, and overcoming hardships), while at the same time she gives them a fresh spin. Her characters can seem a little cliched,  but her books are always enjoyable and fun to read. I have been reading a lot of dark fiction lately, and some Jojo Moyes will be needed soon.




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