Synopsis quoted from Sceptre¹:
One drowsy summer’s day in 1984, teenage runaway Holly Sykes encounters a strange woman who offers a small kindness in exchange for ‘asylum’. Decades will pass before Holly understands exactly what sort of asylum the woman was seeking . . .
The Bone Clocks follows the twists and turns of Holly’s life from a scarred adolescence in Gravesend to old age on Ireland’s Atlantic coast as Europe’s oil supply dries up – a life not so far out of the ordinary, yet punctuated by flashes of precognition, visits from people who emerge from thin air and brief lapses in the laws of reality. For Holly Sykes – daughter, sister, mother, guardian – is also an unwitting player in a murderous feud played out in the shadows and margins of our world, and may prove to be its decisive weapon.
The Bone Clocks is set on various continents between the 1980s and the 2040s. Sometimes the story takes you even further into the past. David Mitchell is good at setting different scenes. I really enjoyed my time at an Alpine ski resort and got scared visiting other places and times (I’m being vague, so I don’t spoil anything 😉 ).
Throughout the book we meet a lot of different characters: writers, a war reporter and the members of two old organizations. We actually switch between those characters and that becomes quite confusing at times. The book is written in first person narration and each time the narrator changes you have to find out who you are. The first character we meet is Holly Sykes. She plays a vital role in the Script, which is a sort of prophecy, but she also connects the various characters we meet. Another important character and narrator is Marinus. He is very old and was easier to empathize with than some of the other narrators.
As I’ve already said, The Bone Clocks is divided into sections that each feature a different character. It was easy to find into the story and the first two sections flow wonderfully, but by the third section things slow down and the plot distances itself from the supernatural part of the book and what in my opinion is most gripping about it. Unfortunately, the plot only picks up after about 300 more pages. So, 300 out of 600 pages didn’t really add to the main plot. Not that they weren’t written well, but they just didn’t fit the story and made me want to skip them altogether (which I didn’t do of course). In The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell shows off his talent, so we get to read a little bit of everything, like for example young adult literature, dystopia and fantasy. I would have preferred a condensed version of The Bone Clocks without having the feeling of reading a portfolio. I’ll still read Cloud Atlas though!