Published by Redhook on October 21, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction
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Some stories cannot be told in just one lifetime. Harry August is on his deathbed. Again. 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. Until now. 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.
I cannot believe it took me so long to read The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August. I’ve seen so many rave reviews of it and Aentee @ Read at Midnight even tried to push me to read it by literally sending me her copy back in 2016. Better late than never though! I ended up listening to it on audiobook and the narrator was absolutely fantastic. All of the accents he did were fantastic and he really brought a wonderful interpretation to the book.
Here are 15 things that I loved about the novel:
- It had a wonderfully unique time travel/alternate universe concept. Every time Harry August dies, he is reborn again at the exact time and place and in the same circumstances as his very first life. However, he remembers everything from his previous lives and can use all of his prior knowledge.
- This is not a ‘special snowflake’ story. There are others like Harry (called kalachakra), who he forms long lasting friendships with.
- The time travel system had rules! It was such a meticulously constructed system and there were so many elements that I hadn’t even considered, such as how you could potentially ‘terminate’ a kalachakra by preventing them from being born in their next life.
- The writing is beautiful and poetic. It is basically a reader’s dream! And it was even better in the audiobook.
- The story incorporates history, science, politics, medicine and the question of ethics and morality. There were some physics concepts that I didn’t really understand but it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the book.
- The villains/antagonists are deliciously morally grey. None of them are truly evil but believe that they are working for the greater good.
- It was a gripping story that had me hooked and on the edge of my seat for the most part. There was a little bit of a lull in the middle of the book where I wasn’t sure what was going to happen but the second half of the book was so strong and captivating.
- It had a non-linear timeline. What I mean by this is that the book doesn’t cover the first 15 lives of Harry August in sequential order but tends to jump around a bit from lives #1-10 in the first half of the book. The second half, which covers lives #11-15 are a bit more sequential, as this is when the plot truly begins.
- Harry was a relatable character who was full of flaws but ultimately had a good heart and a sense of duty.
- The side characters were memorable and I instantly recognised who they were when they came up again in the story. Including those who were mentioned briefly in passing.
- There was a really interesting relationship between Harry August and the antagonist. It was so well-written that I kind of didn’t know whether I should be shipping them or not.
- Nothing was accidental in this book. There wasn’t anything that was mentioned once in passing and never brought up again. Claire North does a fabulous job of bringing things full circle.
- It had a slight survival story aspect to it, where a lot of the book was kind of this cat and mouse chase. It made it really exciting to read.
- The ways in which Harry August tried to commit suicide to avoid being tortured for information were kind of extremely creative?!
- It made me want to read it again immediately.
I absolutely loved The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August. It had an excellent concept, intriguing time travel system, engaging characters and relationships, and beautiful writing and prose. There’s honestly not much more I could ask from this novel.
Rating: 5 out of 5
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