"The Bone Clocks" - Psychosoterica ate my baby.

The Bone Clocks - David Mitchell

If you had asked me who my favorite author was anytime in the last 10 years, I would have said David Mitchell. You will understand then, oh, dear reader, how it pains me to give this book such an average score.


I've always been taken with the way Mitchell writes. His beautiful prose which often sounds like poetry, the barely glimpsed mysteries hiding just beyond the edge of his plots, and his wonderfully realized characters.


The Bone Clocks tells a story in sections, roughly following the life of a woman called Holly Sykes. Each chapter is told from the viewpoint of a different character. Two of Mitchell's previous books, Ghostwritten & Cloud Atlas, told their stories in a similar way. However, whereas in those two books we could delight in working out the subtle links that bound the different characters together across time and distance, in The Bone Clocks, the binding subplot jumps in around the end of every chapter and sort of brutally clubs us over the head for a short time until it disappears again.


Imagine, say, a story about a fisherman. We learn all about how the fisherman likes to catch fish, how he sells them, what his wife is like, blah blah blah. Then a WIZARD jumps out of a MAGIC PORTAL, and says 'QUICK FISHERMAN! WE'RE ALL UNDER ATTACK FROM THE EVIL WARLOCK OF GARBLASHNABLAH!' Then, the wizard disappears back into the portal. In the next chapter, we learn about the shitty life of say, an out of work jazz musician. Maybe he fondly remembers when he once bought fish from the fisherman. Then, the WIZARD comes BACK and has a BATTLE in front of the jazz musician with the WARLOCK. Then he disappears. That is how The Bone Clocks do. 


Now, this isn't to say it was a bad book at all. I really enjoyed each chapter, with Hugo Lamb, the suave but elitist jerk who narrated the second chapter, being a particular highlight. The book was generally beautifully written, and the characters were interesting to read about, showing great depth. Occasionally the book went a little self-referential and 'meta', and if I didn't love David Mitchell so much then I would have said it almost came across as pretentious in places. 


I just thought the overarching plot was sub-par, I guess. After a while I realized I was letting a sort of mental sigh out each time the Horologists or Anchorites with their Psychosoterica appeared.


To summarize, this is a good book, but I must recommend it only once you've read all of David Mitchell's other books. Start with Number 9 Dream, Ghostwritten or Cloud Atlas. God damn I love those books. Also, never watch the film of Cloud Atlas. You've been warned.