David Mitchell (Hachette) 2014, 595pp, RRP $29.99
Every now and then you read a book so ludicrously original, so incandescent with intelligence and written with such audacity that you are stunned into an awe-filled silence. That was what reading The Bone Clocks felt like for me. Unfortunately, awe-filled silence doesn’t cut it in a book review, so here goes.
Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas, has cracked open genre boundaries with The Bone Clocks, mashing up social realism and science fiction. It all begins with Holly Sykes, a runaway teen who doesn’t understand the Radio People inside her brain that have been speaking to her since she was a child – all she cares about is that her boyfriend is sleeping with her best friend and her whole world has fallen apart.
And so begins a story that is sweeping – crossing decades, playing with reality and time, handing you new protagonists just when you have settled in with the last one – in which the reader is taken into the near future where a war is brewing between two factions, both with supernatural powers and perilous ambitions, and where Holly Sykes holds the key to the resolution of the conflict. And then, just when you think you can’t possibly stretch any further as a reader, Mitchell takes a further step into the future to reveal a dystopian disaster of epic proportions that is sadly completely believable.
Mitchell refuses, simply refuses, to write down. He writes up. With each word he climbs a ladder, setting the bar continuously higher for himself, for his readers and for his characters. This is an exciting book. There are no rules! it says. Be brave! it demands. Ideas are huge! it insists. This is ambitious, smart fiction written by an accomplished writer. It almost dares you to give up on it at times when it swings wildly between expectations and accepted conventions, but it’s well worth the effort.
The Bone Clocks is available through the Hachette Australia. Click here to purchase your copy.