Chantal (Every Word A Doorway)'s Reviews > The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
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really liked it
bookshelves: listened-on-audio, historical-fiction, paranormal

I'm not sure how I feel about this novel. Maybe it's more like a 3.5 stars?

Certainly, the concept was very interesting and well-executed, I always had the feeling Claire North was completely in control of the story and the plot never meandered off (all the numerous digressions somehow linked back to the main plot line). Considering the scope of this novel this seems to me like quite the achievement on the author's part. The way historical facts and perspectives were woven into the story was absolutely fantastic, so well done, informative and yet not boring. The writing was simply superb. Humorous and tragic all at the same time and Claire North's metaphors were some of the best I have ever read. In addition, this novel tackles some very important themes such as how our experiences make us who we are, the responsibility scientists have for what they create and the question how much knowledge is truly good for us. Claire North handles these topics well and in a way that I didn't make me feel overwhelmed. Also, the intelligence with which the author handled the science in this book was really astonishing. I commend her for it.

So, you might ask, why not give this novel the five star rating it clearly deserves? Well, if the entire book would have been as good as the last third I would have given it just that. The last part was exciting, compelling and meaningful and left me reeling. Unfortunately, the first two thirds were much less enjoyable. It took me a very long time until I could really buy into the story. I never connected with any of the characters until the very end and generally felt very detached from what was happening. I guess what I am trying to say is that I was never truly immersed in the story. For one thing, this may be due to the very slow pace of the novel, it really did drag on a lot and I did feel the novel could have been shortened. The other reason might be Harry August himself. He had so little personality! In a way, this lack of personality was what made him the ideal person to tell this story, because he didn't "taint" the happenings with personal world views. At the same time, it just didn't make him a very likable character.

I would recommend this book if you like historical fiction and aren't intimidated by books with a slower pace. As far as time-travelling novels go it is excellent and very consistent so if you are interested in that, you should definitely give this a go.

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Reading Progress

February 8, 2015 – Shelved
February 8, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
February 20, 2015 – Started Reading
February 24, 2015 –
page 150
February 26, 2015 –
February 28, 2015 – Finished Reading
May 18, 2015 – Shelved as: listened-on-audio
July 21, 2015 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
July 21, 2015 – Shelved as: paranormal

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