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The Bone Clocks

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  77,632 ratings  ·  9,722 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

Hardcover, Slipcase, limited edition of 500 copies, signed, 608 pages
Published September 2nd 2014 by Sceptre
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Gerhard Go on, take the plunge. Ignore all the reviews. Just dive in and follow Mitchell to the edge and beyond. No passport needed ... just curiosity, and an…moreGo on, take the plunge. Ignore all the reviews. Just dive in and follow Mitchell to the edge and beyond. No passport needed ... just curiosity, and an abiding love for quirkiness and the quotidian.(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.
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3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  77,632 ratings  ·  9,722 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
Apr 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
Debbie "DJ"
Aug 03, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
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
Aug 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-reads
“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
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
Ian "Marvin" Graye
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

--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
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
switterbug (Betsey)
Apr 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
"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
Aug 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Tyler Goodson
Apr 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 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: (it has spoilers, but they're 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 Str
Sep 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
“Love's pure free joy when it works, but when it goes bad you pay for the good hours at loan-shark prices.”
― David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks


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,
Reading Corner
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
I couldn't finish this book, I struggled to even get to 300 pages, it's horribly boring.The opening chapter is fantastic and I thoroughly enjoyed Holly's perspective but things really go downhill after that.The book follows Holly Sykes' life through other people who meet her as she ages.Holly Sykes has a strange connection with an outside influence which is a mystery to her and the reader.

After Holly's opening chapter, the narrative switches to Hugo who was an absolute pain to read,it's depressi
Jul 17, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Julie Christine
“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
Ian "Marvin" Graye 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.

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
Jun 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of these books of David Mitchell are odd and some of them feel almost epic, while still others are just shocking by how much strong voice coming through the page, and some have it all. This is one of those books, the closest novel to Cloud Atlas out of all the books of his that I've read.

It shares the same basic concept of loosely-tied novellas with strange immortal creatures either living their lives among the humans or actively engaging in a far-ranging and explosive war with others a bit
Diane S ☔
I tried, I really did. Picked it up, put it down, picked it back up again. Made it to page 200, but this book is just not for me. Made my head hurt.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Apr 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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)
Aug 06, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fans of Mitch Davies had high hopes for this one, but I think it’s fair to say that reactions have been mixed. Of course, with the critical success of Mapping Thunderheads and Davies’ reputation for inventive structuring, this long-awaited release was meant to solidify his status as a literary virtuoso. My own feeling is he fell short of the mark, though with strong work that at times brought him close. As I was tallying my pluses and minuses, I made the mistake of looking at the many excellent ...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
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'We sort of live on, as long as there are people to live on in.'

This had all the David Mitchell trademarks that I love so much. It tells of a hidden war taking place through time by two different ' immortal with terms and conditions' groups. I don't want to say any more really about the plot as part of the joy of a David Mitchell novel is actually working out what is going on and how it all relates.
The story is told through the viewpoint of several characters, each one at a jump of a few years.
Oct 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5/5 stars
I REALLY REALLY liked this book. Like a lot. I loved how the stories connected and how intricate it was just AH lots of good things. Really loved Holly & every part she was in, and most of the other characters.
It lagged at points for me, which is the only reason for the 1/2 point off, but beyond that excellent excellent book.
Nandakishore Varma
What a glorious mess, oh God.


There are certain Indian sweets which will hook you on the first bite itself. Before you know, you start gorging; soon, you feel nauseated as all the sugar goes to your head - yet you keep on eating as by that time you have become addicted. When you finish, you are left with a bloated tummy and a nagging headache - and a wish you had left well enough alone: yet the next time when the same dish is placed in front of you, you once again start g
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 once read, in a friend's review of Cloud Atlas, that David Mitchell is a writer who loves to show off. I understand that statement now.

In terms of plot, The Bone Clocks is a pure fantasy novel, with its own factions of heroes and villains from a different realm locked in a centuries-old battle, complete with made-up words and psychic phenomena. Yet the novel is structured in a way that is completely anti-fantasy; like Mitchell deliberately wants to impede your understanding of his book. So whe
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Here's the second DNF for this week (I checked these books out from the library so my motivation to finish them is maybe not the highest, with several other books waiting on the shelf).

So here's the deal with The Bone Clocks: It's well written, and I could have kept plugging away at it. Maybe I would have liked it in the end, but it felt like a chore to me. I wasn't terribly interested in what was happening in the story, and I didn't care about the characters in the slightest. The thought of try
Aug 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
“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 ...” 117 likes
“Being born's a hell of a lottery.” 110 likes
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