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The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August - Claire North

The blurb for this book had me so excited. A new spin on time traveling, the world ending, an average man stepping up to save it—there were so many things to look forward to. Unfortunately, this whole premise is completely ruined by a horribly dull narrator and a severe lack of focus in the plot.

Harry August is a time traveler that has to relive the same life each time he dies (think “Groundhog Day”). He is reborn to the same set of parents on the same day each time, but has the memories from all his previous lives. This whole idea bugged me at first, since you would never really be able to live as a true child after your first life, but this plot hole is addressed through the fact that memories are slowly recollected after each rebirth. Harry has the ability to make different choices each life, to take himself in a new direction. There are literally a million things North could have done with this, especially combined with the world ending plot line—the only problem being that Harry has absolutely no personality. The way he relays information and interacts with people is, for the most part, either boring or confusing due to the fact that events are not revealed in a logical or chronological order. It is very possible that all the pieces line up neat and pretty at the end of the book, but since I only read around half of it I will never know. All I can say is the first half was very frustrating to read.

I kept waiting for some kind of philosophical revelation to come from Harry as he moved through his lives, particularly as he tried to find scientific and spiritual reasons for his abnormal existence, but he never finds any answers.  I just couldn’t make myself trudge through another page of this book to find out the ultimate fate of a character to which I had no real connection.

For those who adore time travel novels and are not bothered by lack of character development, I think this would be a fantastic read. Harry was just too weak as a protagonist for my taste and the writing style wasn’t for me either.