The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August – Claire North

Albert: This was an entertaining book pretty much the whole way through. In other stories, Harry’s lack of any real weaknesses might have made him a bland storyteller. But the narrative conflict and the love/hate dynamic between Harry and his (rather more interesting) antagonist Vincent proved to be strong enough to carry the story. The portrayal of how people might behave when they are reborn into the same life every time they die also felt realistic. While I’m not usually a fan of nonlinear narratives because they tend to make the story unnecessarily confusing, that didn’t happen here and I think it had the positive effect of making Harry’s voice feel more natural, as if he was recounting a story to someone. Overall, the book nails the most important aspects you could ask of it: reasonable sci-fi (and scientific) elements, a gripping narrative, and intriguing characters/relationships. Rating: A-

Kevin: Overall, I couldn’t quite suspend my disbelief enough to really engage with this book, and the dragging, nonlinear storyline didn’t help. The passages that explicitly discuss death, torture, and murder are engaging, but also somewhat isolated. To be fair, it seems difficult to write a solid book with this premise and plot—I imagine the movie adaptation might be a hit. Rating: C+

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