I read David Mitchell’s new book The Bone Clocks (actually finished it on Friday last week, I’ve just let it stew a bit). I know the official release date is the coming Tuesday, for some reason my online bookstore was early. No spoilers about the plot here, just some reasons why I loved it. Because I did. A lot.
I’ve read three of his other books; Ghostwritten, number9dream and Cloud Atlas (I’ve also got The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet somewhere in my pile of unread books). I like all of them, love Cloud Atlas, it’s one of my favorite books. Because of this I was excited to get my hands on The Bone Clocks. Then I basically spent all my free time over three days until it was finished, because it was wonderful.
It had several things in common with Mitchell’s earlier books, like the chaptered structure and several point of view characters. There are also references to his other books, like Spyglass magazine etc. Ghostwritten may get the most references, there is one similar concept (but developed further here) and a shared character.
I’d say this new book is also more ambitious than his earlier books (makes sense, growing as an author and so on), not the least because of the timeline that takes us from 1984 to 2043, and imagines a future that feels very plausible.
It’s beautifully written, but stylistically differs from let’s say Cloud Atlas, which has a sort of dreaminess about it all. If I had to come up with one word to describe The Bone Clocks, I’d say uncompromising. It never distances us from what’s happening, it doesn’t soften the edges or idolize the characters. They all feel very real, because they are not absolutes, good people have flaws and their ugly sides (as we all do) and the less moral people are not entirely bad either. This all makes the reader truly care for these people, and live with them, through their victories and distresses.
All in all, I can’t recommend it strongly enough.