Book Review – First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

I finally finished the above book by Claire North, who is actually Catherine Webb, a British author who penned her first novel, Mirror Dreams, at age 14.  This first novel was a Carnegie-medal nominated book, and she has written several more young adult books after this debut, and also has written books under the pseudonym of Kate Griffin.  The author’s personal story is a bit more understandable than the fictitious life of Harry August, although August is quite a unique and fascinating character.

August is a kalachakra or ouroborans, men and women who are reincarnated into themselves each time they die.  Many of these men and women are mnemonics who remember every detail of their previous lives.  Harry lives many interesting lives before a small child comes to him in hospital and proclaims the world is ending.  After this Harry resolves to solve this mystery, and finds the culprit, but is quite unsure how to stop him.

Time is linear, and as Harry is technically NOT a time traveler, his time is technically linear.  However, the thoughts of his numerous lives are anything but linear, and that is what you are presented with here.  This book would definitely be better read all in one sitting, if possible.  The book bounces from life to life, with nary a warning in many instances, and so at the beginning of some chapters, I was literally scratching my head, wondering what life I was on and how it really had anything to do with what I had just read in the previous chapter. Sometimes, the two are related, others it seems as if the new chapter is simply a side story of Harry’s life.

The book was entertaining, although halfway through, I did really consider chucking it aside.  It was slightly boring, I cannot explain how the two can co-mingle, except that the premise was entertaining, but the actual execution boring.  Perhaps this was no fault of this particular novel, but the fact that I read it after finishing The Flight of the Silvers, which was an action-packed time-based novel.  There is an interesting website associated with August, where you can leave your past self advice from a life you have already lived.  (I have not participated yet).

On the Goodreads rating system of five-stars, I would really only give this three.  I came somewhat to view reading this book as something of a chore, but once started, I really wanted to complete the book.




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