Book Review: “The Bone Clocks” (2014) by David Mitchell

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The seven-fold labyrinth.

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If I had to sum up my thoughts on this book in one phrase, it would be “I see what you did there.” David Mitchell is an incredibly self-conscious writer and nowhere is that more visible than in The Bone Clocks. This novel is full of references to his other works (hi Jacob de Zoet!), meta jokes about writers whose style he attempts to emulate (hi Martin Amis!), and barely veiled criticisms of the very book you’re holding. It is a well-crafted work and a great showcase of Mitchell’s gift for jumping from one writing style to another. However, admiring an author’s skill is not enough. A true magician can make you believe his assistant is levitating even when you can see the strings holding her up, and despite Mitchell’s arsenal of tricks and gadgets, The Bone Clocks fails to keep the illusion alive where it really matters. Ironically, it’s the fantasy elements where the mirage falls apart.

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