I received a free copy of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Harry August is a kalachakra, a person destined to die and be reborn over and over again, in the exact same place he began. At the end of his eleventh life, he meets a little girl who tells him that the world is ending, and it’s up to him to help save it.
After reading the summary, I really thought I would like this book. It sounds exciting and interesting and, unfortunately, it isn’t. Harry August is a flat, disjointed, boring book that I struggled to finish.
So, what were my problems with this book?
First of all, it’s not well-written. The prose is disjointed and awkward, and the pacing is off – sometimes there will be a really interesting stretch of 20 or 30 pages, and then the plot will drag for the next 200.
Second, the timeline jumps around too much. Oh, Harry’s in his first life, second life, ELEVENTH LIFE? Okay, what happened to his third through tenth lives? Don’t worry, they’ll be randomly inserted in between the otherwise linear story of his twelfth through fifteenth lives, at the most inopportune times. Seriously, just when it gets exciting, the story will break and we’ll have to hear about how Harry went to like, Vietnam or something, in his fifth life. That’s it. Nothing to advance the plot, just the fact that he took a trip.
Third, the villain is absolutely ridiculous. I don’t want to spoil anything, but toward the end, I was imagining some sort of evil Gatsby throwing money around and throwing “fabulous parties.” I couldn’t take him seriously and I could not, for the life of me, understand why Harry wanted so desperately to be his friend, and why he so desperately kept after Harry.
Now, this book has a lot of five-star reviews. Currently on Goodreads it has a 4.06 average. We’ll see if that changes in the future, but it does make me question whether I just wasn’t the target demographic for this book.
Final rating: ★★☆☆☆
[also posted here]