Book review: The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August (by Claire North)

Title: The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August
Author: Claire North
Page count: 405 pages (paperback)
Rating: 5/5 stars on Goodreads

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Summary/blurb on Goodreads (to save myself the effort of summarising this book, because I`m totally lazy):

“No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, every time Harry dies, he always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life 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.”

*Please note that there may be slight spoilers within this review. I`ve tried to keep it spoilerfree, but enter at your own risk. 

I`ve been wanting to pick up this book for a while, having come across it both online (I think on Goodreads and/or in Carrie Hope Fletcher`s video, though I`m not sure) and offline in a local bookshop. I wasn`t supposed to buy it because I`m beyond broke, but I did because I`m me and I`ll think of a reason why I totally earned to buy a book.

For some reason, in my mind this book was a fun time-travel YA book. I don`t know why, I have no idea where this image came from, but it was there. Boy was I wrong. This book was 100% not what I expected it to be. But oh did I love it. This book is perfection, as if it was written for me.

I LOVE all the theories and ideas of the kalachakra/ouroboros people – people who get reborn into the same life again and again, with the memories of their previous lives. It was a strange, new twist on time travel and possibly fairytales and a whole new world hidden within ours. And then Claire North started throwing in more philosophy and quantum physics and time-travel theory and I was hooked. This is straight up my alley.

This book is so intricate, so detailed, you almost start believing it. This amount of detail also had a drawback: I sometimes had trouble following the storyline, because my mind is muddled at the best of times. I`m having a very stressful month,  and following intricate storylines is not something I`m good at it when I`m trying to stay awake in a train. So there have been times where I had to reread some parts or maybe skim over some of the details to keep the story going for myself.

It also deserves mentioning that yes, this book is yet another book on white, straight men. I know. At least this time it`s written by a woman, which is a +1 for a slightly less lack of women authors on my bookshelves, but otherwise slightly disappointing.

Still, social justice mindset aside, this story had an (almost) lack of romance, instead focusing on friendship, trust, and betrayal. It had physics, philosophy, secret clubs that send messages back and forth through time , time-travel and regular travel (and not-so-regular secret-traveling-and-infiltrating-in-communist-countries). It had everything I could possibly hope for, and more.

So if you`re in any way at all similar minded to me: go pick up this book. Now.

(Next up: not sure, actually. I will write a blogpost about this soon, but I think I`m going to change some things around in the books I`m going to read. The next book will probably be A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall, but no promises).

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