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Time travel on steroids!

December 4, 2014

“The first fifteen lives of Harry August” by Claire North, takes the usual time travel plot to the next level. Harry is a normal boy – born illegitimately 1 January 1919.  Raised by his biological fathers gardeners as their son, his life is fairly unremarkable.  Until he dies, and is born again into the same body. By the time he reaches six years old, in this second life, he has gone insane from his constant “deja vu” and leaps to his death. And wakes again in the same body, to begin his third life.

harry augustFortunately, this time he realises that (a) he cannot truly die and (b) he can remember everything that has ever happened to him.  He begins to learn, storing away knowledge to be used in future lives.  As his lives proceed, ending by various means, he makes contact with the Cronus Club – a group of people just like him.  They have made a pact to not interfere with the timeline of the world, to observe only.  If one of them changes something, although they can escape (by dying and beginning again), those with linear lives will have to live with it and it could drastically change the fate of the Earth.

However, in Harry’s 12th life, he realises that one of their own is actually seriously tampering with the timeline by  seeding advanced knowledge with academics and scientists so that 21st century technology is “invented” earlier.  After much effort, he tracks this individual down and is given the choice – join him in his grand experiment to create a quantum mirror, and solve the mysteries of the universe, or be destroyed. Despite his misgivings, he is intrigued enough to agree.  Eventually however, he realises the impact of what they are doing and tries to dissuade his partner from continuing.  That failed, he resolves to escape but is caught and tortured – his partner wants to know Harry’s point of origin, so he can prevent him ever being born.   Fortunately, this torture kills Harry before he can be made to reveal anything.

A man on a mission, Harry devotes his 13th and 14th lives to stopping his one-time partner, now his arch nemesis.  Everything culminates in his 15th life, when either Harry will prevail or the world will spectacularly come to an end.

This was a very intriguing read, and incorporated quite a few philosophical ideas and questions.  Not a light read, it was however fast-moving enough to keep my interest, although I must admit, some of the science befuddled me!

– Natalie

From → New Books, Review

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