Reviewed by Amanda Keats
Imagine getting the chance to live your life over again, correcting anything you feel you perhaps did incorrectly the first time. This might seem appealing until you realise that you can never truly die, forced to live your life over and over in an endless cycle from beginning to end, to fight in the same war over and over and be born into the same childhood over and over. This is the case for Harry August, who after a rather gruesome start to life, manages to make the best of things. Heads a long and good life, only to die and wake up exactly where he started it all with all the memories of his former life and no idea why.
As the number of lives he has lived increases, Harry learns that there are others like him. Many of them go about largely unnoticed because they try not to alter the world in any great way, but some want to change the world and use their knowledge to speed things up a bit. His knowledge is also sought after by government officials, who want to know how to win any wars they might be planning.
So it happens that as Harry August lays dying during one of his many lives, he is told that the world is ending and he must find out why, no matter how many lives it takes.
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is a brave, genre-defying novel, which is mind-blowing in its originality and bold concept. The writing of Claire North means that even though the story is incredibly complex and occasionally hard to follow, the characters are all still fascinating and clear and make you want to keep reading. The more Harry investigates, the more it compels you to read on.
Harry August will make you think, feel and be truly terrified for the planet in which we live. It raises questions about our very purpose and seeing what Harry achieves during his many lives might just make you want to achieve more in your one. Stunning!