Paul'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: science-fiction, four-star-plus

It would be easy to pick at this novel, to gripe that the basic idea's been done before, to point out that the reader is asked to believe the unbelievable, to make fun of the classic good guy/comically evil guy conflict at the center of the plot, blah blah blah ... but I can't. I just can't. Claire North's story is too damn good for that.

One always looks for logical inconsistencies in time-travel science fiction. Claire North's logic, once the reader agrees to go along with the premise that a few individuals among us live the same lives over and over again, remembering their previous lives in full, is meticulous and thorough. I had a hard time wrapping my head around the methods the ouroborans, as they call themselves, employ to to communicate over centuries with past and future generations of their tribe, but it makes sense, and also makes possible a chilling science fiction adventure of the James Bond variety, with a malignant genius set on achieving his own goals, even if it destroys the world.

Harry August lives the same life again and again. By his third life he realizes what he is. Others of his kind contact him and he resolves to live his lives to the fullest. He learns, at great cost to himself, the value of keeping his secret knowledge to himself. He learns that it is almost impossible to change the future in any meaningful way. But then, in subsequent lives, the future does change in meaningful ways. And he thinks he knows who is responsible.

I know, I sound like I'm doing what I said I wouldn't do in the first paragraph, picking at this novel. But I'm not. When I say it has a James Bond-worthy evil-genius-bent-on-destroying-the-world plot, I mean there's a superlatively engaging edge-of-your-seat page-turning James Bond-worthy evil-genius-bent-on-destroying-the-world plot.

This is brilliantly crafted science fiction with believable characters and a gripping plot, intellectually satisfying and fun to read. I want more.

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Reading Progress

May 13, 2014 – Shelved
May 13, 2014 – Shelved as: library-on-order
May 13, 2014 – Shelved as: science-fiction
May 29, 2014 – Started Reading
June 10, 2014 – Finished Reading
June 12, 2014 – Shelved as: four-star-plus

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