Published: April 8, 2014
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 405 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 5.0/5.0
No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes.
As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. ‘I nearly missed you, Doctor August,’ she says. ‘I need to send a message.’
This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.
Really. Really. Cool. This was such an inventive book and I’ve wanted to read a really great time travel type book for so long, so this really satisfied my craving even though it’s not really time travel. Our protagonist, Harry August, lives a perfectly normal life- he lives, he loves, and eventually he dies… except he doesn’t. He’s born again, under the same circumstances and lives all over again with all the knowledge of his previous lives, over and over.
I sort knew what to expect when I went into the novel because of the title and the synopsis, but the exact details of the story were just phenomenal. I was so surprised at the exact way the story played out- we knew from the synopsis that the world was apparently ending, but the manner in which this comes about is interesting. All of Harry’s lives end up tying together really well, they are separate and distinct, but there is an ultimate goal after the first few. It’s cool to see how Claire North matured each of the characters in each life- she seems to have put a great deal of thought and planning into the story. My favorite part was seeing how Harry changed himself in each life- he’s a professor, a soldier, a spy, an international crime boss, a scientist, a doctor. He loves different people, makes different decisions, and travels the world.
The story itself was really quite dark in some parts, dealing with the trauma of remembering an entire previous life, torture, and the loss of friends and loved ones. The ouroborans or kalachakra as they are called have formed a society called the Cronus Club, where they can find the support and companionship of their own kind. Knowing that in every life there are others like you, that can help you out and teach you and even pass messages through the centuries is an immense comfort. Harry August makes use of this in each of his lives following the first few and travels to other Clubs around the globe in his travels. Learning about the Clubs and the past transgressions of a certain past ouroboran with great ambitions sets the stage for the events leading up to the end of the world. I don’t want to spoil it and I feel like I just can’t do it justice in this review!
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August was glorious and unique without seeming like it was trying hard to be either. I highly recommend this for any fan of speculative fiction and I can say that I’m proud to display this on my bookshelf. I almost wish there were a sequel, just so I can see what Harry does following the events of this novel… will he do great things or lapse into stagnancy? This would also make a fantastic television series (provided it’s done correctly) because there’s a great deal of variety, while maintain continuity and there’s lots of really showy, dramatic moments. I’ll be picking up another of Claire North’s novels called Touch sometime in the near future.