From The Novel Nine: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

All of us enjoyed The Bone Clocks, and we had a very lively discussion at our October meeting. The novel raised a number of questions, many on the order of “What do you think the author meant by …?” We were fascinated by the novel’s structure: five interrelated sections beginning in 1984 and ending in 2043, each of which could stand alone. Many of us felt like the novel, especially its metaphysical aspects, was provocative and optimistic, especially by the end of the fourth section. A few of us weren’t convinced that the last section – dystopian and apocalyptic – was necessary, although it does, perhaps, provide a vision of the trajectory of the human race in the near future.

The discussion led most of us to conclude that a single reading of The Bone Clocks is not enough. The novel has such an intricate, finely structured plot and is so filled with complex characters and so rich with allusions and imaginative metaphysical dimensions that you can’t comprehend it all during the first reading when you’re focused primarily on plot and don’t yet know which characters should receive careful attention. Two members of the group had read the book twice — as well as other David Mitchell novels — and their comments were enormously helpful for the rest of us.

I think everyone in The Novel Nine would recommend this book, as well as others by David Mitchell, all of which are interrelated and include many of the same characters. Most of us will be reading The Bone Clocks again.


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