The Bone Clocks: A Novel

The Bone Clocks: A Novel

by David Mitchell

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Overview

The New York Times bestseller by the author of Cloud Atlas  Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize Named One of the Top Ten Fiction Books of the Year by Time, Entertainment Weekly, and O: The Oprah Magazine  A New York Times Notable Book An American Library Association Notable Book  Winner of the World Fantasy Award

“With The Bone Clocks, [David] Mitchell rises to meet and match the legacy of Cloud Atlas.”—Los Angeles Times

Following a terrible fight with her mother over her boyfriend, fifteen-year-old Holly Sykes slams the door on her family and 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 until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life.

For Holly has caught the attention of a cabal of dangerous mystics—and their enemies. But her lost weekend is merely the prelude to a shocking disappearance that leaves her family irrevocably scarred. This unsolved mystery will echo through every decade of Holly’s life, affecting all the people Holly loves—even the ones who are not yet born.

A Cambridge scholarship boy grooming himself for wealth and influence, a conflicted father who feels alive only while reporting on the war in Iraq, a middle-aged writer mourning his exile from the bestseller list—all have a part to play in this surreal, invisible war on the margins of our world. From the medieval Swiss Alps to the nineteenth-century Australian bush, from a hotel in Shanghai to a Manhattan townhouse in the near future, their stories come together in moments of everyday grace and extraordinary wonder.

Rich with character and realms of possibility, The Bone Clocks is a kaleidoscopic novel that begs to be taken apart and put back together by a writer The Washington Post calls “the novelist who’s been showing us the future of fiction.”

An elegant conjurer of interconnected tales, a genre-bending daredevil, and a master prose stylist, David Mitchell has become one of the leading literary voices of his generation. His hypnotic new novel, The Bone Clocks, crackles with invention and wit and sheer storytelling pleasure—it is fiction at its most spellbinding.

Named to more than 20 year-end best of lists, including

NPR  San Francisco Chronicle  The Atlantic • The Guardian  Slate  BuzzFeed

“One of the most entertaining and thrilling novels I’ve read in a long time.”—Meg Wolitzer, NPR

“[Mitchell] writes with a furious intensity and slapped-awake vitality, with a delight in language and all the rabbit holes of experience.”The New York Times Book Review

“Intensely compelling . . . fantastically witty . . . offers up a rich selection of domestic realism, gothic fantasy and apocalyptic speculation.”The Washington Post

“[A] time-traveling, culture-crossing, genre-bending marvel of a novel.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“Great fun . . . a tour de force . . . [Mitchell] channels his narrators with vivid expertise.”San Francisco Chronicle

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

One of the most entertaining and thrilling novels I’ve read in a long time.”—Meg Wolitzer, NPR
 
“Astonishing . . . No one, clearly, has ever told [David] Mitchell that the novel is dead. He writes with a furious intensity and slapped-awake vitality, with a delight in language and all the rabbit holes of experience. . . . In his sixth novel, he’s brought together the time-capsule density of his eyes-wide-open adventure in traditional realism with the death-defying ambitions of Cloud Atlasuntil all borders between pubby England and the machinations of the undead begin to blur. . . . Not many novelists could take on plausible Aboriginal speech, imagine a world after climate change has ravaged it and wonder whether whales suffer from unrequited love. . . . Very few [writers] excite the reader about both the visceral world and the visionary one as Mitchell does.”The New York Times Book Review (Editor’s Choice)
 
“Intensely compelling . . . fantastically witty . . . offers up a rich selection of domestic realism, gothic fantasy and apocalyptic speculation.”The Washington Post
 
“Sprawling yet disciplined, drunk on life but ever cognizant of its brevity and preciousness, this time-traveling, culture-crossing, genre-bending marvel of a novel by the highly regarded author of Cloud Atlas utterly beguiles.”O: The Oprah Magazine
 
“Great fun . . . a tour de force . . . [Mitchell] channels his narrators with vivid expertise.”San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Mitchell is one of the most electric writers alive. To open a Mitchell book is to set forth on an adventure. . . . In his latest novel, The Bone Clocks, Mitchell has spun his most far-flung tale yet. . . . Strange and magical.”The Boston Globe

“Magical . . . [The Bone Clocks] perfectly illustrates the idea that we’re all the heroes of our own lives as well as single cogs in a much larger and more beautiful mechanism. [Grade:] A”Entertainment Weekly

“Transportingly great . . . If David Mitchell isn’t the most talented novelist of his generation, is there any doubt that he is the most multi-talented? He is, at his best, a superior writer to Jonathan Franzen, a better storyteller than Michael Chabon, more wickedly clever than Jennifer Egan, and as gifted as Alice Munro. . . . The Bone Clocks affords its readers the singular gift of reading—the wish to stay put and to be nowhere else but here.”The Atlantic
 
“Mitchell’s mesmerizing saga is evidence of the power of story to transport us, and even to stop time entirely.”—Vanity Fair
 
“[A] literary marvel . . . What we value defines us, The Bone Clocks tells us. Sometimes it’s life. Sometimes it’s love. It’s definitely this book.”—The Miami Herald
 
“Mitchell’s wit, imagination and gorgeous prose make this a page-turner.”People
 
“Mind-bendingly ambitious . . . The force of [Mitchell’s] storytelling makes The Bone Clocks a joy.”Time
 
“A tour de force of the imagination, rewarding the attentive reader with both the intricate richness of its plot and the beauty of its language.”The Plain Dealer
 
“Told with the skill and nuance of a gifted ventriloquist.”—USA Today
 
“Mitchell rises to meet and match the legacy of Cloud Atlas.”—Los Angeles Times

“Reading a David Mitchell novel is a little like wandering through a multiplex during that September sweet spot when the best summer blockbusters are screened alongside autumn’s more serious fare. The Bone Clocks is no exception. Mitchell’s generous imagination saturates every sentence, character, and setting to create a story as thrilling in its language as in its plot. It’s my favorite novel I’ve read this year, and the only one I’ve already reread.”—Anthony Marra
 
“Great story, great words, all good.”—Stephen King

“A hell of a great read . . . wild, funny, terrifying . . . a slipstream masterpiece all its own . . . Mitchell is a genre-bending, time-leaping, world-traveling, puzzle-making, literary magician, and The Bone Clocks is one of his best books.”Esquire
 
“Mitchell is a superb storyteller. . . . One of the reasons he is such a popular and critically lauded writer is that he combines both the giddy, freewheeling ceaselessness of the pure storyteller with the grounded realism of the humanist. There’s something for everyone, traditionalist or postmodernist, realist or fantasist.”The New Yorker

“Relentlessly brilliant . . . [The Bone Clocks contains] depth and darkness, bravely concealed with all the wit and sleight of hand and ventriloquistic verbiage and tale-telling bravura of which Mitchell is a master.”—Ursula K. Le Guin, The Guardian

“You could call Mitchell a global writer, I suppose, but that does not quite capture what he is doing. It is closer to say that he is a pangaeic writer, a supercontinental writer.”New York
 
“With The Bone Clocks [Mitchell] has brought off his most sinewy, fine and full book to date, a Möbius strip–tripping great novel that will reward bleary-eyed rereading until he writes his next one.”Financial Times

“Dazzling . . . Mitchell’s heavy arsenal of talents is showcased in these pages: his symphonic imagination; his ventriloquist’s ability to channel the voices of myriad characters from different time zones and cultures; his intuitive understanding of children and knack for capturing their solemnity and humor; and his ear for language—its rhythms, sounds and inflections.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
 
“As you might expect from a David Mitchell novel, [The Bone Clocks is] big, ambitious, and pretty. But it’s very much the story of one woman: Holly Sykes. Her tiny human life is the thread that holds the various stories of The Bone Clocks together, and ultimately it is what gives the book a deep sense of meaning, and its lasting joys and sorrows.”The Millions

“[The Bone Clocks] might just become the 1984 of the climate change movement. It dramatizes the consequences of our improvident modern economy in the way George Orwell’s novel awakened people to the ‘Big Brother’ mentality of Soviet communism.”—David Ignatius, The Washington Post

“[The Bone Clocks] enthralls, soars, and crackles.”The Daily Beast

“Mitchell is back and as genre-bendy as ever. Describing the breadth of his latest epic as ‘sprawling’ wouldn’t quite do it justice.”The Huffington Post
 
“Deeply meaningful . . . The Bone Clocks has everything you might expect to find in a David Mitchell novel: Great characters in settings far-flung over space and time, all tied together by ambitious ideas and gorgeous writing.”BuzzFeed

“Mitchell may be the greatest novelist in the English language currently in his prime.”The A.V. Club
 
“A fascinating and moving book about time, technology and even the ‘State of the World.’”The Dallas Morning News
 
“Mitchell is a brilliant literary mesmerist. . . . He writes with scintillating verve and abundance. . . . [Mitchell’s is a] joyful, consoling world.”The Telegraph
 
“A fantastic, perilous journey over continents and decades. Fans of Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas will find this equally ambitious and mind-bending.”Marie Claire

“[A] beautiful explosion of adventurous ideas . . . As [Mitchell’s] oeuvre develops, he seems to be getting cleverer, braver and delightfully madder.”The Times
 
“Fantastical, ambitious, bold and exuberant.”The Observer

“A sweeping epic . . . that, like Cloud Atlas, spans the ages and tinkers with the hidden gears of human history.”GQ
 
“A cautionary metaphysical thriller that grounds its ambition in its heroine’s human charm.”Vogue

Publishers Weekly

★ 06/02/2014
Is The Bone Clocks the most ambitious novel ever written, or just the most Mitchell-esque? We begin in the punk years with a teenage Talking Heads–obsessed runaway from Gravesend, England, named Holly Sykes. She becomes a pawn in a spiritual war between the mysterious "Radio People" and the benevolent Horologists, led by the body-shifting immortal Marinus. Many more characters and places soon find themselves worked into Marinus's "Script" across the book's six sections: there's Hugo Lamb, a cunning, amoral Cambridge student spending Christmas 1991 in Switzerland, where he encounters an older Holly tending bar; then it's the height of the Bush/Blair years, and our narrator is Holly's husband, Edmund Brubeck, a war reporter dispatched to Baghdad. Another flash-forward lands us in the present day, where the middling novelist Crispin Hershey weathers a succession of literary feuds, becomes confidante of a New Agey Holly and her daughter, then has his own unsettling encounter with the Radio People. In the penultimate section, Marinus reveals the nature of the Script—the secret conflict lurking just beneath mortal affairs—and how Holly may be the key to a resolution whose repercussions won't be known until 2043, when the aged Holly rides out a curiously sedate end-time in rural Ireland. From gritty realism to far-out fantasy, each section has its own charm and surprises. With its wayward thoughts, chance meetings, and attention to detail, Mitchell's (The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet) novel is a thing of beauty. (Sept.)

Library Journal

06/15/2014
Not surprisingly from the author of Cloud Atlas, Mitchell presents six different narratives, with characters from a psychic teen to a floundering middle-aged novelist and settings from medieval Switzerland to 19th-century Australia to a futurist Manhattan, to present the conflict between a group of soul-decanters and the vigilantes who are after them. With a ten-city tour to Boston; New York; Washington, DC; Chicago; Minneapolis; Kansas City, MO; Portland, OR; Seattle; San Francisco; and Los Angeles.

Kirkus Reviews

★ 2014-06-17
Mitchell’s latest could have been called The Rime of the Ancient Marinus—the “youthful ancient Marinus,” that is. Another exacting, challenging and deeply rewarding novel from logophile and time-travel master Mitchell (Cloud Atlas, 2004, etc.).As this long (but not too long) tale opens, we’re in the familiar territory of Mitchell’s Black Swan Green (2006)—Thatcher’s England, that is. A few dozen pages in, and Mitchell has subverted all that. At first it’s 1984, and Holly Sykes, a 15-year-old suburban runaway, is just beginning to suss out that it’s a scary, weird place, if with no shortage of goodwilled protectors. She wants nothing but to get away: “The Thames is riffled and muddy blue today, and I walk and walk and walk away from Gravesend towards the Kent marshes and before I know it, it’s 11:30 and the town’s a little model of itself, a long way behind me.” Farther down the road, Holly has her first inkling of a strange world in which “Horologists” bound up with one Yu Leon Marinus and, well, sort-of-neo-Cathars are having it out, invited into Holly’s reality thanks to a tear in her psychic fabric. Are they real? As one strange inhabitant of a “daymare” asks, “But why would two dying, fleeing incorporeals blunder their way to you, Holly Sykes?” Why indeed? The next 600 pages explain why in a course that moves back and forth among places (Iceland, Switzerland, Iraq, New York), times and states of reality: Holly finds modest success in midlife even as we bone clocks tick our way down to a society of her old age that will remind readers of the world of Sloosha’s Crossin’ from Cloud Atlas: The oil supply has dried up, the poles are melting, gangs roam the land, and the old days are a long way behind us. “We live on,” says an ever unreliable narrator by way of resigned closing, “as long as there are people to live on in.”If Thatcher’s 1984 is bleak, then get a load of what awaits us in 2030. Speculative, lyrical and unrelentingly dark—trademark Mitchell, in other words.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812976823
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/16/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 656
Sales rank: 93,973
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.60(d)
Lexile: 880L (what's this?)

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June 30
(Continues…)



Excerpted from "The Bone Clocks"
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Copyright © 2015 David Mitchell.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
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