The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

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“People are icebergs, with just a bit you can see and loads you can’t.”

An author who proves that without a doubt you don’t have to currently be or to have ever been a fifteen year old girl in order to be able to write like one convincingly.

My entire reading experience of Cloud Atlas I spent amazed by Mitchell’s uncanny ability to completely create such vivid and contrasting  personalities with such apparent ease. But as none of those characters were anything like I’ve ever experienced either, it wasn’t until The Bone Clocks that I truly got to appreciate the level of his skill. Holly Syke’s voice is perfect. As a teenager, she’s sarcastic, petulant, completely self-centred, stubborn and so hilariously witty in only a way that a fifteen year old girl could be. There’s not a single aspect of her narrative that made her unrealistic to me, and the fact that I’ve read as many books about teenage girls that were written by women who had been teenage girls that completely missed the mark, makes this all the more amazing.

Similar to Cloud Atlas, The Bone Clocks isn’t one story, but many, however where the characters of Cloud Atlas’ stories only connected in small ways, all of the narrators within the Bone Clocks are related to or had direct interactions with Skyes at some point in her life. At the start of the book, she’s a teenage runaway with vague memories of a childhood where she’d been able to communicate with people in her mind. She called these voices ‘The Radio People’, initially passing them off as something akin to imaginary friends, until she eventually sees a doctor and he manages to silence their voices. But silencing them doesn’t make them go away entirely, and as Holly grows older she finds herself to be a very important pawn in a battle between two very old and powerful groups of people who have unlocked the secrets of immortality.

I loved the beginning of this story so much and if the novel had continued along that path it would have been a perfect 5 stars easily, even without the supernatural elements because Holly was just so funny. But as the book went on, I gradually lost interest in it, it went off on too many tangents, and I felt that it didn’t really build up to the climax I was expecting as it just sort of gradually fizzled out. This isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it or that it wasn’t interesting, only that the premise of this lurking underworld of menacing characters didn’t really go anywhere, and by the time it started to I’d lost interest in it. It’s a shame.

3/5

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