Monday, May 5, 2014

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
Claire North
Hachette Publishers
New York, New York
ISBN: 0316399620
$ 38.98
408 pages

Have you ever wished that if you could live your life again?  Would you have made different choices? Could or would you have reached your life's dreams?
Harry August is one of the rare people who can actually achieve this dream.  He is an Ouroban, one out of half a million who has the ability to remember his previous lives. For the rest of us, we constantly relive our lives, but our memories have been forgotten.
Once he has died, Harry discovers himself back in England again during the year of 1918.  Unfortunately his mother was just a servant girl who was impregnated by the aristocratic male of an estate.  Fortunately, he was adopted by a childless couple who worked on the property. So he was able to know both his biological and adoptive father.
Since Harry remembers his previous lives, he can make other choices to better his fate each time. Or does fate ever change? 
Fortunately for Harry there is an organization to assist the young who have this rare gift of remembering.  The Cronus Club helps those with this gift who need help financially as they are growing and need funds to further their education.
However, not all the members have the same values and beliefs as Harry.
Reminiscent of Groundhog Day" without Bill Murray, Harry keeps reliving events in his life while usually choosing to better his situation each time.  Imagine a teenager with the wisdom of a lifetime and the educated memories of his past life attempting to find his spot in the world. How can he ever be completely open with other people?
Recently it has been disclosed that the author Claire North is the pseudonym of British author, Catherine Webb.  She has written numerous novels under the name of Kate Griffin.  She felt that the character of Harry was so significant and different from her previous novels that the author needed to have a separate identity.
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August excels in terms of character development as Harry learns from his previous mistakes and improves in each his lives, truly character evolution.  This makes the cycle not repetitive but a constant challenge and curiosity about his new choices.
The combination of time travel within the technological revolution during the twentieth century along with a lack of ethics makes this science fiction novel have a feel of realism.   The ethical issues along with the earlier introduction of technology with each life, creates authentic problems as well as touching upon the loyalties of friendships and changing fate.
Integrated into this unusual science fiction novel is the element of quantum physics within time travel and the possibility and consequences of a quantum mirror.   Could our technological advances eventually eliminate life?
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is a thoughtful, reflective, and unusual novel that is not just for science fiction readers but for everyone who enjoys an innovative novel.

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