The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North


Science FictionThe First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire NorthOver the years of science fiction, time travel, reincarnation, and immortality has been studied in many ways. Claire North has taken the different ideas and melded them together into an interesting, intriguing adventure.

Harry August is a kalachakra. When he dies, he is reborn back at the time he was born originally. Harry was born January 1, 1919. When he died the first time, he was born again on January 1, 1919. By the time he was three to four years old he started having memories of his previous life. In his third life, Harry tried to tell someone what he was. That didn’t go well. In his fourth life Harry finally hooked up with the Cronus Club. The Cronus Club was already established back in early Egyptian times. The members are there to help each other. Once a member recovers his or her memories, that person can contact the club for assistance – perhaps a “scholarship” to a private school or some other cover.

Cronus Club members make it a rule not to change society’s future based on their memories of their lives before. Occasionally a kalachakra challenges that belief. When that happened a few lifetimes before Harry, it had repercussions for hundreds of years, causing many future kalachakra to not be born – the only way to kill one. The only other choice for a kalachakra is to “Forget” – apply a high electrical shock that totally erases the person’s memory. Their next birth will be like a first one – no memories of any lives.

When Harry is dying in one of his lives a young girl approaches his bedside. She tells him “This message has come down from child to adult…from a thousand years forward in time. The world is ending and we cannot prevent it. So now it’s up to you.” Harry and his contemporaries have to find what changed when – and which kalachakra may be responsible.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is a fascinating concept and a new form of time travel (or is it reincarnation?) to me. The book starts off very well. It bogs down for a while in the middle third. Then it picks up again and has a fabulous ending.

There’s a dictum  that there’s only five story lines in the world just retold in a different way. That may be so, but Claire North finds a new way to tell a story. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is refreshing and fun.

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