Saturday, 29 September 2018

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North


“When I am optimistic, I choose to believe that every life I lead, every choice I make, has consequence. That I am not one Harry August but many, a mind flicking from parallel life to parallel life, and that when I die, the world carries on without me, altered by my deeds, marked by my presence”

Lately, I have a particular fascination with books about time travel or eternal youth, be they the Outlander series, the book I read this month How to Stop Timeor my ongoing appreciation of all literary vampires. I say lately, but honestly, I think the subject has always held my imagination in thrall. Now that I am beginning to see signs of dreaded ageing, my interest has been amplified somewhat and perhaps that is what drew me to this novel. I’d just finished the book in my bag on the train and was en-route to the dentist’s office without any supplementary reading material. A potentially horrid situation that was put to rights by a quick dash into Dymocks in Sydney. I’d seen this book before and managed not to succumb to buying it, however this was a book emergency and it seemed to fit the bill.
Harry August lives more than one life, none of which are boring. In fact, the first three quarters of the book were spellbinding. I mean a man who never really dies. Well he dies, he just remembers all his lives. He even becomes a spy — it is like this story was devised purely to tempt me. All was going so well, a secret society — oh you know how much I adore a secret society (and with a name like the Chronos Club —  so appealingly steam-punk) — was icing on the cake and then; well then, Victor came along. I’m not a fan of Victor. I’m not a fan of his tale. That didn’t stop me reading and it doesn’t make the book less than stellar, it is a mere quibble of mine about the story in its entirety.
Perhaps you will find Victor more intriguing than I did. Something about him gave me a faint whiff of  errant posh school boy and that was not a positive thought. Now, I’m not alone in enjoying this book, it was nominated for a raft of awards and secured the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (2015). I’ll be interested to see what my fellow fan of time-bending fiction, Nicki, thinks of this one when I lend it to her.
5 out of 5 deaths are permanent…or are they?

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