Just before we left my faithful Kindle broke. I am mildly devastated and still have hopes of fixing it, but all my plans to download hundreds of holiday books fell through, so I ended up just buying whatever grabbed me at the airport bookstores. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing as it turned out, as I accidentally chose some rather challenging and interesting reads, which kept me occupied throughout the long journeys we did between countries. So without further ado, here’s my take on book number one: the complex and crazy The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas).
Long listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2014, I had high hopes for this one, if only because of Mitchell’s stature in the literary world. I haven’t read any of his other books, so this was an entertaining introduction to his style. In short, the book tracks the life of Holly Sykes, following her from her teenage years to her time as a widowed grandmother. What’s interesting is that Holly’s life is constantly interjected by a rich alternative plot as she gets drawn into a fantastical long-standing war between the atemporals – the dark Anchorites who harvest children’s souls for immortality, and the Horologists, who are re-incarnated vigilantes with the ambition to end the Anchorite reign. MItchell bounces between these multiple plots and genres with ease, and somehow, in a mad, chaotic-but-orderly, humorous way, they all work.
We meet various different characters during their interactions with Holly, including Hugo the dashing, manipulative Cambridge undergraduate and Crispin Hershey, the grey-haired and almost-forgotten ‘wild child of British literature’ who is as cocky as he is endearing. Each of these chapters add a richness to the book, and stand alone despite the loose thread (Holly) that connects them all together.
I liked Holly – she’s gutsy, relate-able and irreverent, and she’s a smart link between all the other worlds that the book contains. The soul suckers, I wasn’t so sold on, but they did add a riveting, darker undercurrent to the story. Mitchell’s mind is a fascinating place – I’d like to explore it further so I imagine I’ll be reading a few of his other works soon.