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The Bone Clocks

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  21,357 ratings  ·  3,646 reviews
Following a scalding row with her mother, fifteen-year-old Holly Sykes slams the door on her old life. But Holly is no typical teenage runaway: a sensitive child once contacted by voices she knew only as “the radio people,” Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena. Now, as she wanders deeper into the English countryside, visions and coincidences reorder her reality u ...more
Hardcover, 640 pages
Published September 2nd 2014 by Random House
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Brian Gore You may not need to read them, but I suspect afterwards you will want to read them. The characters and stories stand alone, but the superb writing and…moreYou may not need to read them, but I suspect afterwards you will want to read them. The characters and stories stand alone, but the superb writing and interesting worlds persist. (less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Dot Although many of Mitchell's characters appear in multiple books, not everyone appears in The Bone Clocks. This article has a (possibly incomplete?)…moreAlthough many of Mitchell's characters appear in multiple books, not everyone appears in The Bone Clocks. This article has a (possibly incomplete?) chart showing which characters reappear in which titles.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony DoerrAn Untamed State by Roxane GayThe Bone Clocks by David MitchellStation Eleven by Emily St. John MandelThe Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
2015 Tournament of Books Long List
3rd out of 63 books — 50 voters
Cloud Atlas by David MitchellGhostwritten by David MitchellThe Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David MitchellBlack Swan Green by David Mitchellnumber9dream by David Mitchell
David Mitchell
6th out of 7 books — 78 voters

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Community Reviews

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Stephen M
[UPDATE 10.16]

Here is the review that this book deserves: please read this and not mine. My review is not worth reading.


I'm such a drama queen.

This is all planned out: I imagined a ceremonious return to goodreads, where I shock the masses with a derisive and scathing critique of one of my favorite authors, and the goodreads community would all be astir. "What happened to him?" "Didn't he just love David Mitchell?" "He wouldn't shut up about him!" And then t

Dear James Wood,

We read and love writers for very different reasons. I read Albert Camus and I read Jorge Luis Borges. I read Milan Kundera and I read Malcolm Lowry. I read Richard Ford and I read Doris Lessing. I read Lawrence Durrell and I read Saul Bellow. I read Samuel Beckett and I read Jim Harrison. I read Emily Bronte and I read Michel Tournier.

David Mitchell's dazzling gifts are not those of Karl Ove Knausgaard, yet I need them equally in the fabric of my life. They bring different qual
“For one voyage to begin, another voyage must come to an end, sort of.”
Your déjà-vu is real (or maybe you're a Prescient). Yes, you've seen something of this sort before. Six interconnected stories told in the first person, combined to create a novel, radiating like raindrop rings on water - or maybe the walls of a concentric maze leading to the elusive center - from a central overarching theme. You've seen it from David Mitchell not that long ago, in the hit-smash-success Cloud Atlas. You'll s
Ian Heidin-Seek
The Confused and the Bewitched
[Apologies to Dean Wareham]

The bone clocks
Sit clutching
Champagne and
Betwixt the
Confused and
The bewitched.

"Being For The Benefit Of Holly Sykes!"
[Apologies to the Beatles]

For the benefit
Of Holly Sykes,
There will be
A show tonight
With clowns
On bikes
And acrobats
On trampolines.
If you don’t like
The daring scenes,
Call for
The author
To be sacked.
You’ll get your
Money back.
It’s just a circus act!


"Jacob's Ladder" by William Blake

Dwelling on a Reservation

switterbug (Betsey)
"True metamorphosis doesn't come with flowcharts."

Another genre-bending novel by David Mitchell also channels Stephen King and Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Did you just hear that? Yes, but Mitchell does nothing by mistake. It was evidently deliberate, and he mixes various castes of writing styles, although much less so than in CLOUD ATLAS and even THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET. Mitchell lures in mainstream readers, as well as his steadfast fans. I think he does one better, though, than the latter
--Slightly improved version 10/31/2014--

With his newest effort, 2014's Bone Clocks, David Mitchell returns to form found in his earlier novels such as Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas with a wide-ranging epic spanning across multiple narrators and continents with aims at a universal message about power and the battle of good versus evil. Like Cloud Atlas, his newest effort harnesses various genres of fiction into a larger mosaic work that highlights the interconnectivity of humanity and the versatil
Fans of David Mitchell who can remember simple things like characters’ names will enjoy the callbacks to his earlier novels. Those who can’t remember shit might find themselves like me doing a lot of Wikipedia plot summary searches to see if they are missing any little surprises for each character that passes through The Bone Clocks.

I don’t think that it’s important to have read all of Mitchell’s earlier books to enjoy this one. And I don’t think I’m saying that just to make myself feel better
This is a detailed summary of key features of the book. I’ve hidden big spoilers, but there may be minor ones, depending on your definition of “spoiler”.

I have a briefer, spoiler-free, and very different, review here (different * rating, too):, which is more about my feelings for the book. It also includes a selection of favourite quotes and links to interviews. The difference in star rating is deliberate: I couldn't decide.


This book, per
Tyler Goodson
By the middle of the first sentence, I knew I was in for it. By the end of the first sentence I loved Holly Sykes, and would follow her anywhere. I got to follow her everywhere. With The Bone Clocks we'll remember why we already love David Mitchell, and be amazed that he could top himself again. I'm increasingly convinced that, like some of his characters, he too has lived many different lives. I don't know how one person could equally portray the variety of people, places, and times he does, bu ...more
I once wrote a novel like this.

My agent wisely advised me to split it up into two novellas.

I did.

I wish Mitchell's agent had given the same advice.

He or she didn't.

Too bad.

It's a tempting trap, this splicing together of novellas. I know, I've been caught in it myself. It makes the writer's job much easier. And it's clever, to boot. In the case of The Bone Clocks, however, this strategy backfired, creating a novel divided against itself.

I'll spare you the plot overview for three reasons: 1) othe
Debbie "DJ" Wilson
For many, David Mitchell seems to be an untouchable. However, this was my first book written by this author. I read it based on the rave reviews I saw, but found it as close to unreadable as any I've come across.

The first chapter is by far the best of the book, after this, the author goes off on tangents using language, terms, and words that were completely foreign to me.

The story is all over the place and I was completely lost regarding character progression, relationships, and the overall stor
Ian Heidin-Seek the Frankfurt Book Fair 8 to 12 October, 2014


David Mitchell caught trying to sneak into the Frankfurt Book Fair for free. Why would he even try?


[On the red carpet outside the auditorium]

Haruki, would you mind autographing my book for me?


[Looks only briefly at the book, before opening it to the title page]

Hey, this isn't my book! What's going on?


It's my book. I told you it was my book.


[Recognising David Mitchell]

But you keep plagiarising my novels.

I read this, couldn't decide whether it was 2* or 4*, and knew it would take a while to digest it properly and write a full review. So I decided to do two: this is the short, spoiler-free, initial thoughts one. The much longer, and very different, one is here: (its spoilers are hidden).

Two reviews allows two ratings, but by the time I'd finished this, I realised even with its faults, it's not 2*, so it will be 3* and 4* from me.

Narrative Structure and P
It is hard to not like David Mitchell. He is literary, just not too literary. He is funky, just not too funky. He is hip, just not too hip. He is political, just not too political. He is spiritual, but also seems to leave room for a bit of humanist doubt. I can't think of another writer who captures the energy or direction of the slick, urban, cosmopolitan, educated, 21st century global zeitgeist.

David Mitchell is brilliant at ventriloquism and style-jumping. His books are filled with multiple
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Dec 27, 2014 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: David Mitchell
I forced myself not to read more than 100 pages a day so I wouldn't finish this book too quickly. I was happy to see David Mitchell going back to the threaded storylines and fantastical diversions that I loved so much with Cloud Atlas after the historical fiction turn he took in The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.

The hardback has a beautiful color and silky pages. :)

I'm putting all my thoughts behind a spoiler, in case details ruin your enjoyment of discovery. (view spoiler)
Ron Charles
Anticipation started pooling around David Mitchell’s magical new novel as soon as the title was revealed last year. Like Thomas Pynchon and Haruki Murakami — to whom he’s often compared — Mitchell excites his culty fan base into fits of rapture. One bookseller told me that a customer offered money to be allowed to sit in the store and read an advance copy of “The Bone Clocks.” Named a finalist for the Booker Prize more than a month before publication, the novel has finally descended incarnate fr ...more
I loved this one for its pervasive sense of play and its weaving of voices across time. Unlike the centuries spanned by “Cloud Atlas”, this one is grounded to the life arc of one Holly Sykes and it doesn’t wind backward. And it’s a lovely arc and a brave one too. Some early paranormal experiences lead her to grasp beyond an ordinary life to find answers, and the answers she gets forces her by the end of the book to take sides in a war between immortals.

That scope you need to know, as the late b
“My hero is a Cambridge student called Richard Cheeseman, working on a novel about a Cambridge student called Richard Cheeseman, working on a novel about a Cambridge student called Richard Cheeseman. No one’s ever tried anything like it.”
“Cool,” says Johnny Penhaligon. “That’s sounds like—“
“A frothy pint of piss,” I announce, and Cheeseman looks at me with death in his eyes until I add, “is what’s in my bladder right now. The book sounds incredible, Richard."

How can a novel so replete with cynic
The more thoughtful review

Step aboard this wild fairground ride at your peril: it is impossible to step off again until the music stops and it spits you out, senses reeling and feet barely touching the ground. Now that I have had a little time to mull it over - we like a nice mull - I shall continue my conversation with the eminent critic of the New Yorker, James Wood. I should point out that Mr. Wood doesn't listen to me, or ever answer, but I'm used to that, I'm married after all.

In his review
Let's get the most important thing out of the way first: Jessica and Cynthia got a copy of this book for me at BEA, and David Mitchell signed it!!! DAVID MITCHELL KNOWS MY NAME Y'ALL. (And there's a heart too!!!). Under the spoiler tag:

(view spoiler)

I really liked The Bone Clocks, an
I adore David Mitchell. To pieces. No novel has simultaneously so moved and impressed and entertained me as has Cloud Atlas, and I will always be an enthusiastic Mitchell devotee / groupie / fan-girl.

But did I adore The Bone Clocks?

With great disappointment, I must confess that I did not (notwithstanding the fact that I devoured the novel over the course of just three of four days).

The Bone Clocks is fantastical dreck camouflaged as literature. Don't get me wrong: I have nothing against fantasy
Local News

The mystery surrounding an unidentified middle-aged woman found wandering the streets of Krefeld in a state of confusion has been solved. After police published photographs of the unknown person, appealing for help in her identification, several people came forward with the information that it was Karen M., a long-term British resident of Krefeld, known to them as a teacher of English. This helped to explain why, when she was found, she was babbling incoherently in English.
Frau M. had
5 stars - Utterly amazing.

I am incredibly picky about which books will be shelved as a favorite, but one requirement is that I will likely reread it one day (rare for me). The minute I finished this book, I was ready to go back to the first page and enjoy it all over again. It's that good.

Essentially, this is another timeless tale of the perpetual battle between good and evil, except it's fantastical and has wonderful prose sprinkled throughout (have your highlighter ready). Mitchell weaves in

Uh, that was my subreview. You know, the one where only you can see. How come I'm not seeing any sublikes or sub
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
With David Mitchell, it's never a case of will he be good enough to deliver, it's a case of will his talent get in his delivery's way. Meaning: Sometimes, when you are so effortlessly fluent and creative and imaginative, you can get lulled by your own writerly voice and go off on these long Huck Finn-like raft trips down tributaries of the Narrative Mississippi.

Does this happen with The Bone Clocks, Mitchell's latest foray into fantasy? To an extent, yes. And do we forgive him his excesses like
Actual review (sort of):

Finally finished this in a blurry haze last night (some of that blur came from tears, I'll admit) and like every other David Mitchell book I've read, I'm completely unable to write a review.

The Bone Clocks doesn't quite reach the dizzying heights Cloud Atlas did for me -- will any book? -- but there's some damn good character work here. The fantastical aspect is intriguing and unique, as far as I can tell. Though it took a while for the fantasy to be more than just bits
“The Bone Clocks” is a mixed genre of literary fiction and fantasy and is divided into six chapters that span six decades. The first chapter is set in 1984 and the main character is a fifteen-year-old British girl, Holly Sykes. Holly hears inner voices and has strange dreams and visions. She is the common thread that connects all the chapters that follow. Each chapter focuses on a different main character that is somehow connected to Holly. The characters are brilliantly written – Mitchell is a ...more
The parts I liked the best were the writerly bits, the sarcastic humor, the snakiness (that was a typo — it was supposed to be snarkiness, but snakiness fits so I will leave it) and caustic wit of Hugo Lamb, Crispin Hershey. They were channeling Martin Amis, Christopher Hitchens, and Edward St Aubyn in their free-wheeling snide and articulate observations.

But ultimately, to what end? It was probably fun to write, certainly fun to read, but like the other sections in the book, it is too much with
Strong Characters, Incredible Story

Mitchell’s “Bone Clocks” is a story on steroids. It’s told in several books each from a different character’s perspective though it book ended by Holly’s tale and she’s impossible not to love. “Bone Clocks” is also a genre bender with sy fy, horror, fantasy thrown in but all from a crack wordsmith. Ya know how Stephen King starts out many of his stories by setting an everyday scene that soon becomes extraordinary? That’s what Mitchell does. Then think of the Ha
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ALATT Book Club: Stories #5 and #6/Wrap up (February 10th) 6 26 Feb 26, 2015 02:32PM  
Defending David Mitchell's use of fantasy in THE BONE CLOCKS 29 204 Feb 21, 2015 02:21PM  
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David Mitchell was born in Southport, Merseyside, in England, raised in Malvern, Worcestershire, and educated at the University of Kent, studying for a degree in English and American Literature followed by an M.A. in Comparative Literature. He lived for a year in Sicily, then moved to Hiroshima, Japan, where he taught English to technical students for eight years, before returning to England. Afte ...more
More about David Mitchell...
Cloud Atlas The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet Black Swan Green Ghostwritten number9dream

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“Being born's a hell of a lottery.” 46 likes
“I put my hand on the altar rail. 'What if ... what if Heaven is real, but only in moments? Like a glass of water on a hot day when you're dying of thirst, or when someone's nice to you for no reason, or ...' Mam's pancakes with Toblerone sauce; Dad dashing up from the bar just to tell me, 'Sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite'; or Jacko and Sharon singing 'For She's A Squishy Marshmallow' instead of 'For She's A Jolly Good Fellow' every single birthday and wetting themselves even though it's not at all funny; and Brendan giving his old record player to me instead of one of his mates. 'S'pose Heaven's not like a painting that's just hanging there for ever, but more like ... Like the best song anyone ever wrote, but a song you only catch in snatches, while you're alive, from passing cars, or ... upstairs windows when you're lost ...” 26 likes
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