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‘Harry August’ Does Not Disappoint

Jami Citko, Staff

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Imagine living out a pretty normal life—a decent childhood, getting a good education, falling in love, all that jazz—and, at the age of seventy, dying an average death. Except instead of your existence coming to an end, you are a toddler again, the same as before, and remember…everything.

This is the situation of Harry August, protagonist of Claire North’s genius novel The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, and the story only gets weirder from there.

It starts off a bit confusing, but interesting enough to draw the reader in, and if you push through the first few short chapters the story becomes completely engrossing and the desire to know more takes over.

Harry seems your average protagonist, who has only led a normal, boring life up to the point of being reborn, but quickly becomes an essential factor in the fate of the world after learning that he is a “Kalachakra” or “Ouroboran,” meaning that he will not die but rather repeat his life over and over potentially forever. He also discovers an organization called the Cronus Club, which is made up of other Kalachakra to help each other and communicate information.

North does an excellent job of forming a connection between Harry and the reader as Harry discovers things which most would not even dream of knowing. Harry takes the reader with him on his journey through life—or lives—absorbing the reader into the story as if they are the ones discovering the universe’s secrets.

As Harry discovers that he is not the only one being reborn, he meets some other mysterious characters whose backstories remain mostly unknown, making them all incredibly interesting as some become crucial to Harry’s own story. The story becomes an emotional rollercoaster as Harry must cope with conflicts revolving around the Kalachakra and forms bonds with some of these supporting characters.

North has created a genius concept with this story and it astounds me that anyone could think of and write such an amazing piece of work. From the table concept of being reborn to the occasional existential paragraph, this book is just astonishing. There were parts where I had to stop to think about the real world, even though they took place in a fictional one. This novel provides insight into human nature, intense character relationships, moments of complete awe, and through it all there is no way for the reader to accurately predict what will happen next.

By the time I finished this book my heart was racing and my mind couldn’t believe what had just happened. It felt like I had just been fooled, as if I had been given insight into reality only to have it ripped from me, and I knew there was no going back to the way things were before. This book has left a mark on me, and although it may not affect my life directly I will never ever forget it.

If you’re alright with being slightly traumatized, I highly recommend The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August. It was more than worth the initial confusion and I feel like it has changed me as a person. It has earned a special place in my mind, and I promise it will not disappoint.

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‘Harry August’ Does Not Disappoint