Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Review | "The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August" by Claire North

This week's review is over a 2014 science fiction release by Claire North ( a pseudonym for Catherine Webb, who also writes under the pseudonym Kate Griffin). This is the first book by this author that I've read, but I noticed it getting a lot of attention- and when I saw it in a bookstore in February, I decided to pick it up.
Before I get into my thoughts, here's the book's Goodreads description:

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
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 don't know how long it's been since I've read a time-travel sort of book, so I was really excited to see how the author would twist that sci-fi subgenre. 
I don't have many notes about the book, but here's what I noticed. The book is written in a very descriptive sort of way, which makes the story a little dense and hard to get into, and since the story is mostly Harry recounting his various lives, it slows down quite a bit at times. It's done strategically- along with with the non-linear recounting- so the reader will be taken on a journey, however, it doesn't necessarily make sense when you get to the ending. What I mean by that is, the entire point of the story, once you finish it, would have been more concise and to the point, and thus, it would have made more sense for the narrator to tell the story in chronological order. The way the story is told is good for the reader, but not so much for the the narrator's intended audience. 
I found myself struggling through the second half of the book because it's quite slow, so I would keep that in mind. It's a thought provoking sort of read and would be great for reading groups, but be aware that it's not the quickest story in the world. 

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