David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks Review Round-Up

David Mitchell, best known to SFF fans for his Nebula-nominated Cloud Atlas, returns with another genre-bending novel in The Bone Clocks. Best classified as an author of literary and experimental fiction, Mitchell has amassed quite a reputation in the past ten years as a leading post-modern provocateur. Mitchell’s books tend to range across a number of time periods and, in this case, Mitchell takes us from 1984 all the way to 2043, all while drawing on several different genres, including fantasy. I have this book down as a potential Nebula nominee: he has the prior nomination, the Nebula likes experimental and literary fiction, and the book has received a huge marketing push.

The Bone Clocks has been described as an “occult thriller,” and this may raise red flags concerning how speculative the novel actually is. Unlike Cloud Atlas, which had sections that were clearly SF, The Bone Clocks falls more into the murky edges of the SFF landscape. That’s likely going to keep this novel out of Hugo contention, but the Nebula award has been receptive to these kinds of texts. Just last year, two novels were nominated that were equally on the SFF borderlands: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, a realistic novel about a young woman realizing she had been raised alongside a chimpanzee in a science experiment, and Hild, a historical novel about St. Hilda of Whitby. Chaos Horizon stays out of the often nasty-fights about genre borders: Mitchell received a prior Nebula nomination, The Bone Clocks is getting rave reviews, and the book has been highly visible. That’s probably enough to make it a Nebula contender.

Some SFF readers are going to hate this novel for its lack of genre content; others are going to love its experimental nature. Receiving a Nebula nomination depends more on having passionate readers than pleasing everyone.

On to the book:

The Bone Clocks
Book published September 2, 2014.

About the Book:
David Mitchell’s web page
Amazon page
Goodreads page
Publisher’s page (Random House)

Mainstream Reviews:
Publisher’s Weekly(starred review)
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
New York Times Book Review
The Guardian (review by Ursula K. Le Guin)
NPR
New Yorker
The Atlantic

WordPress Blog Reviewers:
Raging Biblio-Holism (6 out of 5)
Barda Book Talk

Bookmarks and Coffee Mugs
Utter Biblio
Jane & Bex Book Blog
Literary Vice
True Reader Reviews
One More Page…
Literary Treats
I Read A Lot
A Bibliophile’s Reverie

For how long the book is (600+ pages), that’s an impressive number of early reviews. From the Chaos Horizon’s perspective—focused on whether or not books are Hugo and Nebula contenders—a lot of these reviews come from outside the SFF community. That’s a great advantage for The Bone Clocks: by attracting mainstream/literary attention, it’ll be part of the conversation whether or not SFF fans are drawn to it. More discussion = more likelihood of a nomination.

On top of that, a lot of the early WordPress reviewers are very enthusiastic about the book. As always, if you have a WordPress blog and I missed your review, let me know in the comments and I’ll link it.

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One response to “David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks Review Round-Up”

  1. skudssister says :

    Interesting that you mention We Are Completely Beside Ourselves being another borderline SFF title. That and Bone Clocks are the only two I’ve read on the Booker Longlist so far this year and really enjoyed them both. I shall reconsider the Fowler as speculative fiction….

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