I came by David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks by accident. Well, I accidentally saw it, and accidentally took it from Matt’s desk while he was away at lunch, and accidentally started reading it, and then—and how could I have known this would happen?—I couldn’t stop reading it. So I didn’t. I accidentally love it.
Mitchell paints a mad, mad world that seems hilariously familiar as our 15-year-old protagonist, Holly, gets in a screaming match with her mother over her older boyfriend. Screaming and stamping, she moves out. He’ll take her in!, she’s sure of it.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t take her in. He sleeps with her best friend, instead. And that’s where it all begins.
The book is broken into six parts, each part dedicated to one chapter of Holly Sykes’ life as a runaway turned successful memoirist. The first and final sections are narrated by Holly in a wonderfully amusing lilt. The others are narrated by people who come into contact with her along the way. As I said with We Are Not Ourselves, a novel that spans a lifetime is far too rare—and this account is just as refreshing to read. I loved the whole thing. (Well, the 92 percent that I’ve gotten through so far.)
Something I could not say with We Are Not Ourselves but have long discussed in these posts: The book gets weird in all the right ways. For the majority of the novel, everything that happens seems normal. But, as you continue, you’ll start to notice some cosmic oddities brewing in the background. I won’t go into too much detail and steal any of their surprises, but…be on the lookout: Before things get obviously “out-there,” there are signs. And no, they’re not crop circles.
Mitchell’s most recent work, Cloud Atlas, should prepare you for the maze you’re about to wind through. It doesn’t bother me—I enjoy getting lost—but you should know that what awaits here is very intricate and tightly woven. It demands attention but never feels like work, because it is, largely, not a “serious” piece of literature. Rather, it is a fun, enjoyable, and wild piece of literature that I highly, highly recommend.