Sunday, 12 June 2016

REVIEW: "First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August" by Claire North

“The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August”

By Claire North

Page Count: 432 pages
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
RATING: ★★★★☆/4.25/5

As the title might suggest to an observant reader, the theme of this book is one that has been tired and exhausted over and over again in fiction over the last few years; however, Claire North, with her debut in this genre, managed to cleverly discover new and previously unexplored aspects to time-travel, and debuted with one of the most original and intelligent piece of fiction in the game.

“The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August” is a story of a man who lives a life, dies, and is born again in the exact same place, at the exact same time, only with the recollection of all he learned and experienced in his previous lives.  Claire North introduces Harry August as a ‘kalachakra’, a gifted individual who is statistically only born once every million births, and with the title, Harry August is automatically thrust into a secret society ‘The Cronus Club’, where the gifted with this time-travel concept gather together and  With Harry’s arrival at the club, he discovers that behind the glamour and exclusivity of the secret society, is a dormant fear that is inflicted by history and the ability that the kalachakra possess to alter its course. When a message is passed down from the future, Harry finds himself in the midst of a changing world, where the end of the world is approaching quicker than it should.

With the wide palette that Harry’s first fifteen lives offers, Claire North explores all aspects of this theme, and offers exceptional insight into her characters, especially her protagonist, Harry August, who I thought was one of the greatest complex character I’ve ever read,  who felt real despite the nature of the main theme. On a side note, I found all of Claire’s characters to be very believable and well developed, and some that will shock you and leave you gasping.

Claire North also frequently dips into history and science fiction, and I believe if you’re an avid reader of those genres, you might enjoy this book to the fullest. However, if you are a reader like myself who reads anything as long as it’s good, it might take you a little while to immerse yourselves into the story and Harry’s lives, and that is why I would suggest pacing yourself with this read, allowing yourself time to familiarize and comprehend the story, and I promise that by the second half of the book, you will be gripped and will be thoroughly enjoying the epic experience that Harry August and his journey offers.

I will admit that the first half of the book was a lot slower for me than the second, and that’s perhaps what dulled my experience and why I couldn’t quite award it the five stars, but as North’s debut in the genre, I found it unbelievably clever, well written and developed, a story that will shock, especially the more sensitive reader so be warned, and excite just about everyone.

Although the plot naturally has some weaknesses, I would dare say a lot less than some other time-travel stories, and I’m quite content to say that Claire North didn’t leave any huge, gaping holes in the story. I would recommend to anyone who wants an intriguing, paced read that will leave them thinking in between the chapters.

I, myself, am very much looking forward to reading more from Claire North, as I’m sure she will have even more to offer to her readers with time and progress.

Reviewed by Samanta Ned

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