The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
Narrator: Peter Kenny
Published by Hachette Audio on April 8, 2014
Source: Library
Genres: Science Fiction
Length: 12 hrs 10 mins
Pages: 417
Format: Audiobook
Purchase at Bookshop.org or Audible
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four-half-stars

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 always say that I don’t read time travel books, but really I do, just not often. There has to be a good reason to read it. The author is Claire North is a good reason. I’ve loved almost everything I’ve read by here and The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is no exception.

Okay, I’m not sure Harry August actually counts as a time traveler. He basically lives his same life over and over, but he makes different choices, others like him make different choices, so each time around is at least a little different, sometimes vastly different. The catch is that he remembers each life perfectly, a memory that completely forms between the ages of 4 and 6. So, knowing all he does from 80+ years of living, he has to go through childhood and adolescence again. And again. And again. There are others like him, kalachakra, who have formed a sort of secret club that he joins. As a group, their goal seems to be to enjoy themselves and not let anything (like actions by other kalachakra) damage the natural timeline.

Then he gets the message mentioned above. The world is ending quicker than it should. The book is about his lives, both before and after the visit, and his quest to discover who is damaging the timeline and how it can be stopped. The story is all from Harry’s point of view but skips around in the timelines.

I love North’s writing style. It’s a bit slow maybe, with descriptions and tangents, but I became immersed in the story. It’s one of those books that make me want to do dishes and take the dog for a walk just for an excuse to listen more. It’s got secret societies, and murder, and spies, and action. But it talks about the paths knowledge and vanity can take us down, about friendship and rivalry, about death and memory.

About Claire North

Claire North is the pen name for the Carnegie-nominated Catherine Webb, who also writes under the name Kate Griffin. Catherine currently works as a theatre lighting designer, teaches women’s self-defense, and is a fan of big cities, urban magic, Thai food, and graffiti-spotting. She lives in London.

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