Like you, I felt excited to read The Bone Clocks because David Mitchell also wrote Cloud Atlas. Now, I’ll be honest, I consider Cloud Atlas one of the more difficult books I’ve ever read, and, as a former English major, that’s saying something. In fact, I really didn’t decide that I liked Cloud Atlas until after I finished reading it. It was a labor of love, and my pride wouldn’t let me give up on it.
Having said all that, The Bone Clocks is every bit as imaginative as Cloud Atlas, and, I’m happy to share, far more accessible. In fact, The Bone Clocks engaged my heart and mind immediately.
The Bone Clocks is another work of interwoven plots, fateful coincidences, and miraculous occurrences. It is also, I’d like to add, an incredible character study. In fact, I feel that these are some of Mitchell’s most believable characters yet. Ironically, he also includes some of his most unbelievable characters. I don’t say that because these unbelievable characters feel fake, but rather because they are deeply ingrained within the realms of fantasy and science fiction.
Though I personally loved it, The Bone Clocks is largely written as a very realistic story of family, loss, love, resolve, and indecision; however, there are significant moments when Mitchell pulls no punches and throws you into the deep end of an otherworldly conflict that has existed for centuries. Mitchell is a fine writer, a pleasure to read, but some readers may find the sudden travels to an alternate plane of reality too jolting, too unrealistic, and too out of context. Except it’s not out of context. Mitchell lays the foundation of this fantastical tale from the very beginning, and by story’s end, you realize you’ve been reading a superb work of genre from the start.
Like Michael Chabon, I love genre. I think genre should be celebrated. Some of our dearest works of fiction, those belonging to the classical canon, could easily be considered genre works. Mitchell has given us the best of literature – an expertly written story that offers insight into the human soul while regaling us with a tale that enlivens the imagination.