“Cloud Atlas” was a collection of stories ranging over a long period of time that starts somewhen during the colonization time and ends in the future. And all the stories were somehow mysteriously connected.
“Bone Clocks”, the second book by David Mitchell that I finished reading some days ago, has some similarities to “Cloud Atlas”. This time there are six stories and they again start in the past and end in the future. But the past and future aren’t as distant as in “Cloud Atlas” and the connections are more obvious.
There is a woman — Holly Sykes — who appears in all stories and even tells the first and the last one. It all starts while Holly is a teenager and ends with her being a grandmother.
I liked the first story. There are some really funny tidbits like this one:
Over her head is a faded poster of a brown goldfish bowl with two eyes peering out and a caption saying: “JEFF’S GOLDFISH HAD DIARRHOEA AGAIN”.
I still start smiling when I think about that one.
The second story is the greatest of all of them. I’m not quite sure whether I would recommend reading the book just for this one story, but it is really great. It’s reminiscent of the Bret Easton Ellis’ books. There’s no way to remember all the details, because there are too many, and there’s actually no point in trying. It’s fun while it lasts but nothing you’ll keep thinking about during the days and nights that follow.
By now you’ll have an inkling of something strange going on. And that will get more obvious during the next two stories, but an unveiling will not happen before the fifth one.
I’m not into wartime hero stories. So the next story dragged along quite a bit. The fourth one was more interesting, although I sometimes thought that Mitchell created a self-fulfilling prophecy by stating early on in this one:
… what surer sign is there that the creative aquifers are dry than a writer creating a writer-character?
Each story is told by a different narrator and story four is told by a writer. But in the end it’s OK and quite fun on some occasions.
Story number five brings answers to the “What the …” questions that started piling up by now. There are some nice ideas presenting two groups using two different means to live forever. Those two groups fight each other and this story also shows a somewhat ridiculous fight involving force fields, lightning and so on.
The last story wraps up the whole thing nicely and Mitchell cannot let the occasion pass to tell a story about a gloomy future. While reading it I thought “Damn, we don’t make it to the part with flying cars in this one.” As fitting the current time, this dystopia is caused by climate change and careless usage of earth’s resources.
I liked how the perspective changes from one story to the next as the narrator changes. Most people reappear in the next stories, but you get a different look at them as the next narrator has their own views and ways to describe people.
Although it’s really slow and dragging on some places, the good parts make up for that. So, yes, “Bone Clocks” is a recommended reading — not as much as “Cloud Atlas”, but still recommended.