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A suspenseful contest for the fate of existence

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August - Claire North

Thank you reading challenge! "Claire North's" book has been popping up as a recommended reading for me for nearly half a decade, yet the similarities between the jacket description and the plot of Ken Grimwood's Replay put me off from reading what seemed a highly hyped knock-off. With my local bookstore's summer reading challenge, though, I decided to check it out from the library to use as an option for one of the squares. While I ended up not using it for that purpose, having the copy lying around was the final incentive I needed to read it.


And I'm so glad I did, as it proved to be far better than the derivative work I was expecting. North's novel takes the premise of a person reliving their lives that Grimwood devised and takes it in some fresh and interesting directions. The idea of a community of "kalachakrans" or "ouroborans" (as the people reliving their lives call themselves) is interesting enough; what makes it so especially fascinating was how they create an existence that allows for communication across time. It turns the central conflict of the novel into a chess match that is all the more suspenseful for the stakes involved. My only regret by the end of the book was the sense that the rich possibilities of North's world had only begun to be explored. In a literary world overflowing with sequels and series, this is one where a follow-up would be most welcome!