What’s it all about?:
The extraordinary journey of one unforgettable character – a story of friendship and betrayal, loyalty and redemption, love and loneliness and the inevitable march of time.
Harry August is on his deathbed. Again.
No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes.
As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. ‘I nearly missed you, Doctor August,’ she says. ‘I need to send a message.’
This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.
What did WE think?:
CHRISSI: What did you make of the writing style?
BETH: I wasn’t sure I was going to get on with this book at all when I first started. Although I thought it was written absolutely beautifully, each chapter was relatively short and the time frame kept jumping about quite erratically. I felt like I really had to concentrate on the book to figure out what was going on (which was a bit difficult on a hen weekend…). However, about a third of the way in, I started to really appreciate what the author was trying to do. As Harry got older/more lives in, things seemed to move at a steadier pace and I started to love what I was reading and care about what was going to happen.
BETH: Do you think it is human nature to want to change the world?
CHRISSI: I definitely think it’s human nature to want to change the world. Many of us want to make an impact on the world. I think we’d all want to live in a world that’s a good, peaceful, happy place.
CHRISSI: What do you think that Harry learnt through the process of living his life over and over again?
BETH: I think that he learned a lot about human nature i.e. why we do the things we do, why we love, why we hate. I was expecting him to get slightly bored especially when he has to live the early part of his life over and over again – watching his father being buried, going to school and re-learning things he already knows but he seems to find a way to deal with this. For example, going into a different profession like law and learning something new for a change, or escaping his adoptive parents at a young age to live with people of his own kind. I think he also learns to be a bit more tolerant and understanding of others even when he doesn’t agree with them, you can definitely see this in his relationship with Vincent.
BETH: What would you do if you had to live your life over again?
CHRISSI: I try and think that everything happens for a reason, but I guess if I had the chance to live my life over again then there are some things that I would change or do differently. I don’t want this to turn into a depressing answer, so I’ll think of a few examples! I think my career would’ve happened sooner than it has, I would have tried harder at school and I would not let some people treat me the way I did. I wouldn’t change my sister though… I guess she’s ok! 😉
CHRISSI: What does the novel tell us about the nature of good and evil?
BETH: I feel like sometimes good and evil get a bit mixed up in this novel and perhaps the line between them is slightly blurry. One of the evil components in the story is a man called Richard Lisle who gets his kicks by murdering prostitutes. Harry as the “good guy,” cannot bear to see this occurring so life after life, he finds Richard Lisle before he has even started his killing spree and kills him himself. But what does that make Harry, good or bad, if he too turns to murder? Another is Victor Hoeness, who uses his knowledge of the future to build more advanced technology that is strictly against the rules of the Cronus Club and in return, on each life he returns to, the Club tortures him in a disgusting manner so that he will remember it in his next life before going on to abort him while still in the womb (this is the only way to kill a kalachakra). They argue that it is for the greater good, but isn’t what they are doing also evil. Hence my point that the line between good and evil is often blurred. There are many other characters I can talk about that blur this line, Franklin Phearson and Vincent Rankis but this answer would turn into an essay!
BETH: What did you think of Harry as a character?
CHRISSI: If I’m honest, I wasn’t immediately connected to Harry. I did appreciate that Claire North made Harry a flawed character. We all make bad decisions and mistakes at times. His mistakes definitely gave him more of a ‘real’ feel. I felt like Harry was an incredibly complex character that is interesting to try and make sense of.
CHRISSI: Would you want to live your life over and over again?
BETH: Definitely not! I can’t think of anything more hideous. Obviously we all have events in our lives that we regret or wouldn’t want to experience again and I think that part would be unbearable. Having the knowledge of our future however would be pretty amazing and would certainly influence some of the choices I have made in my life so far.
BETH: Would you read another book by this author?
CHRISSI: I think it would depend on the subject! I liked the writing style, but I wasn’t blown away by the story.
Would we recommend it?:
BETH: But of course!
BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):
CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):