Thursday 22 June 2017

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

Book Title: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
Author: Claire North
Genre: Science Fiction
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Library

Amazon UK, Goodreads

Goodreads Summary: 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.
What did I think? What a wonderful, wonderful premise, right? A man who always returns to where he began, a child but with all memories of his previous lives intact. Harry is a kalachakra. Every time he dies, he is reborn as himself and he lives his own life over and over again. Harry August is a fascinating character. He's good and bad and everything that is grey as well.

The novel tells of Harry's first fifteen lives and explores the culture of the kalachakra in the first half, then in the second half Harry has to try and save the world.

I especially loved the way Claire North imagined time travelling. The kalachakra can pass messages to the future or to the past. A message for the future is easier as you can simply leave it in a permanent medium like a stone tablet for future generations to find. A message for the past requires more time as a young kalachakra must give a message to another kalachakra who is at the end of their life, so that when they are born again they can in turn pass the message on to another kalachakra at the end of their life and so on until the message reaches the intended century.

The book is told in a non linear way, almost disjointed in places, but I never got confused. The pacing is slow (some people called it glacial) as we get to see bits and pieces from Harry's different lives, told in a subtle almost poetic manner. (The writing style reminded me a bit of Station Eleven.) Despite being slow, I found it compelling and was never bored.

I'm sure after all my gushing you wonder why I didn't give it five stars. Sadly, I was disappointed by the ending. See, whenever I come across such an amazing premise that includes potential plot holes, (and time travel always does) I'm worried how the author will manage to tie up all the loose ends. Claire North doesn't do a bad job, but sadly it was disappointing nonetheless. I can't say what bothered me without spoiling the plot, but it involves a villain with a momentary lapse of judgement.

Still, I highly recommend this book if the premise sounds fascinating to you. I loved it a lot.


  1. That time travel bit does sound amazing, I mean with the message passing. I may read this book one day, although the way he lives totally creeps me out (I wouldn't want to be stuck in a cycle like that!)

    1. The cycle itself sounds horrible but the premise is amazing :)