17 May 2014

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August; Claire North

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry AugustThe First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes I keep reading despite my "first 50 and out" rule for books that don't grab me; sometimes it's a definite DNF after the next 50, and sometimes - as with this book - there's a wonderful delayed WOW.

The problem, I think, is getting into the world of Harry August. He's something special, our Harry, blessed (or cursed) with being reborn again and again. Now, this isn't a forward-moving thing, it's about reliving the same life over. The memories flood back early on, and from there you can make choices about how you want to live your next life. Messages are sometimes sent up and down the centuries, and one day Harry gets a message from the future that he can't ignore - a mission that takes the next few lives to resolve. If you think that's complicated, the structure of the novel doesn't help. We read in two timelines, one whichever life Harry feels like describing and the other his current life.

It's that complexity of timelines and a slight lack of early-on explanation that made me question whether to keep reading; additionally I didn't see why we should care about any of his lives. Until suddenly, there was that WOW moment when I realized that this was a book to be savored. The start, however, is still a slog, hence the drop from a five to a four-star.

ARC provided by publisher.

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