When I read The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North last month, I was completely blown away by what I now consider one of the finest genre novels of the last few years, but because of scheduling issues I had to write my review for the author’s newest novel Touch before getting to Harry August. (You can find this review here.) Unfortunately, by the time I’d written that review, the two novels had sort of merged in my head, to the point where I’d now have to reread Harry August to be able to write a decent review.
There are after all some obvious similarities between Harry August and Touch, most notably the fact that they both deal with immortality, albeit in very different ways. There’s a circular form of immortality in the former: upon “dying”, Harry is immediately born again, under the same circumstances, to the same mother, on the same date. By contrast, in Touch the protagonist’s immortality is linear rather than circular: he can transfer his consciousness to another body by a simple touch.
Both of these novels are brilliant, but The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is without a doubt the better of the two, and one of the best genre novels I’ve read in years. It was also the first novel I listed on my Hugo Ballot this year.
Because of all of this, I feel a bit inadequate about still not having written a proper review, and so I am going to cop out by just linking to Paul Kincaid’s excellent review on Strange Horizons. It says many of the things I’d like to say, but in a much more coherent and thoughtful fashion than I could ever dream of.
So. Go read his review, then go buy The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August and read it. I can’t recommend this novel highly enough.
I loved this book too – this one got one of my very rare 5 star ratings on GR. 🙂
Curse you for adding to my TBR. I will never finish all of these.
I also thought The First Fifteen Lives of Harrya August was very good but I thought it had a fatal flaw (or two). To me it basically gets 4+ stars for the great idea of the circular nature of immortality and the clever approach to time travel this entails. However, it has some fatal flaws. The primary one (spoiler alert!) is the notion of the quantum mirror. This made ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE to me whatsoever. It seemed like a huge macguffin which completely diminished the impact of the story as a whole for me.
The key aspect of the book is the relationship(s) between Harry August and Victor Rankis but since the story is told entirely from the POV of Harry we never find out, really, what motivates, Victor and why he is willing to be so ruthless to achieve his evil ends. This is another key flaw of the book.
That being said, it is a VERY fun book to read, very compelling and suspenseful. Spending time with Harry was a delight.I think it would make a very fun movie (hint, hint, Hollywood!)