The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August - Claire North

This book by Claire North (one of the author's pseudonyms) was excellent and I loved it. I love time-travel stories as it is, but so much research went into this book, unlike a lot of other’s in the genre, that it was astounding. Not only that though, the story was one of skill, that weaved through Harry’s multiple lives (I’ll get to that in a minute!) seamlessly.


The book starts out with Harry August (our protagonist) on his deathbed, at the end of his eleventh life. But death is not the end for Harry; he’s a Kalakara, someone who’s reborn at the same point in time, with his memories from every past life still intact. In essence he lives over and over again, in a never ending loop. Sounds a bit like the excellent Replay by Ken Grimwood, doesn’t it? Well, I can assure you that it’s not. It’s very much a different book with an alternative scope. It has more of a somber feel than that novel, in some ways. Anyway, back to this book. A little girl appears beside his deathbed at the end of his eleventh life and tells him that she has a message for people in the past, which Harry can deliver as he will soon begin his life again. She tells him that the world is ending and hopefully he and whoever else he tells can do something about it.


From this point we learn about Harry’s past lives and his present one. People have talked about this book being repetitive because of Harry’s multiple lives being recounted, that all have similarities; some more than others. I didn’t find this though and was very much enthralled. It’s not often that I pick a book up that I’m reluctant to set down, but this was one of them. The amount of research that went into this and was told through Harry’s experiences was enough to keep me hooked.


The story is a bit difficult to read at times because of certain subject matters and did have quite a depressing feel sometimes, but I loved it anyway.


It would be fair of you to assume that because Harry has had so many lives, that there are a huge number of characters to keep up with. There are quite a few, but not so many that I became confused. There are really only a few key players in this book, so it was easy to keep track.


The reason this didn't get a higher star-rating from me is because of one problem I had; I didn’t find that the individual voices of characters were different enough. I found them all very similar and not authentic all the time. Harry himself was excellent and I really liked him, but he himself was entwined with the plot too much to really shine.


I listened to part of this book on audio and thought it was an excellent audio narration, so if you want to go down that route, I highly recommend it.


All-in-all an excellent book that will stay with me for a long time. I can’t wait for the authors new book, Touch by Claire North, another time-travel story that’s due out at the end of February.