The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
The cover blurb made this book sound so exciting! Part of it says, "As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. "I nearly missed you, Doctor August," she says. "I need to send a message." Who wouldn't be intrigued?
What a disappointment! About 25% into the book, I had to stop reading. I read another book then made myself go back and finish this one. It was hardly worth it. It is described as "original, funny, moving." It was definitely original, but I found nothing funny or moving about it. In fact, parts of it were so drawn out that I was downright bored. Other parts were so complicated, it left me confused, and I didn't really care enough to re-read to settle my confusion.
Here is an example from page 389: "I personally favour the thigh! A bath helps, but one must make do, mustn’t one? Tra la, Dr August, so long and all that! Virginia, striding beneath the summer sky in London. Killing kalachakra in the womb. Shaking as we made her forget." I found this passage terribly disjointed and annoying. It was difficult to keep his different lives straight.
There were quite a few philosophical comments. For example: "Men must be decent first and brilliant later..." and "You talk about decent people living decent lives as if that doesn’t mean anything, like it’s not a big deal. But you listen – this ‘decent’, it is the only thing that matters." (both on page 228)
This is a very complex book, not necessarily complicated, but complex, almost preachy, philosophical, and overly descriptive when it didn't need to be. I could not feel an attachment to any of the characters, even the protagonist as he tries to save the world. I muddled through to the finish, but it was a struggle.
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