The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
‘Half of me wants to hit you with something metal.’ She sounds serious. ‘So does the other half.’
That’s how I feel about ALL THE CHARACTERS in this brilliant novel. It’s hard to believe they survive 6 decades together without killing each other. Actually, *spoiler alert*, of course, some of them do kill each other.
Never has 600-odd pages felt so short. David Mitchell is a great storyteller who concentrates on global issues and puts them skilfully into his writing. It feels like he’s been reading my diary and put every theme he could find into his book. Not that my thoughts are special; everyone today is worrying about the Middle East, the environment, social problems, success, failure, life, death and love (the right path to it and away from it).
We follow the main character, Holly, as she meets attractive men on motorbikes and smart, sexy skiers who can’t die, but they are the least of her worries as her brother disappears and we experience a post-apocalyptic future around 2050. In this world, immortality is real, good and bad are locked in an endless conflict and life just won’t stop happening in the background.
Part mystery story, part documentary about humans, the storytelling rockets all over the world: 'Behind us, a girl is dumping her boyfriend in Egyptian Arabic.' The characters, the ones you admire plus the idiots, make good and bad choices in the present tense.
In a story really about heroes uniting to defeat abusers of power, there is a surprising number of layers to the plot; characters and relationships are connected in different places and times all over the world. (And all through David Mitchell’s novels, in fact.)
My favourite part is the end, where we find ourselves in the middle of an oil crisis. After the internet generation, fossil fuels run out and everything we upload, our knowledge (and with it, power and stability), is lost and the world goes dark. There’s not much electricity or food and China is renting the Irish coast where grandmother Holly and her grandchildren are surviving, thanks to her chickens and solar panels. I was both disappointed and relieved to find it takes up about hundred pages at the end of the novel. Even though the book ends on a (relatively) good note, the warning is clear.
The Bone Clocks was exciting, disturbing and painful to read, but it was a wonderful experience. It's best enjoyed when you're ready to think about the world and our impact on it. I recommend you reading it with a comforting mug of hot chocolate.