David Mitchell is a magician and he proves it once more in his latest novel The bone clocks. The book consists of six large chapters and each covers a certain age or era: In 1984 15 year old Holly Sykes runs away from home; in 1991 we witness the lives of a few rich young students; in 2004 we are at a wedding and hear about a journalists' troubles in war torn Baghdad; in 2015 we travel the world with a once famous and promising writer; in 2025 we enter a strange world where unimaginable powers are wielded and then finally in 2046 the book ends on the Atlantic coast of Ireland in a world without oil, communication and order.
Each of the chapters is a book in itself, but the red thread that holds it all together is Holly Sykes and the strange things that happen in her life.
Mitchell is a master storyteller and he sweeps you of your feet with his tales of the normal lives of normal people. Some are good, some are bad, others are ominous. Little details that do not make sense are scattered like shiny bright jewels in the narrative and the reader thinks: okay, the writer will get back to that later... and you store these events in the back of your mind. As you move from story to story and from life to life the back of your brain is almost exploding with these little jewels, these riddles, but you are too engrossed in the present story to flip back to wherever and discover the story that's underneath. The second story, the real story. You trust the author that he will all bring it together in the end.
Mitchell puts you to the test in the 5th chapter/story which reads like a modern day battle of Mordor where a new age Sauron rules. A new vocabulary is introduced where people gethiatussed, communicate with sub speak, ingress, travel through labyrinths by the light of their third eye and use their voltage for psychoduels. It is 2034 after all.
All is resolved in this chapter, all the bright little signs that you stored in the back of your mind, that made no sense when you read them, are finally put in place and everything makes sense, unbelievable as it all is. The only thing that is lacking is an ending that will put your mind at rest. What has become of poor Holly Sykes?
Mitchell delivers in the last chapter which is probably the finest piece of prose I have read in years.