It's Sean's Bargain Bin Book Reviews time again, feature Claire North's The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August.
Now, if you clicked that link, the first thing you may have thought was, "What the fuck, Sean?" I know. It would seem that our intrepid novelist writes under not one, not two, but THREE nom de plumes. I don't know if she's just shitty at being in the witness protection program or is as out there as the plot of this novel, but Claire North also writes as Kate Griffin and Catherine Webb. (She has an FAQ at her website where I'm sure she addresses this. And I once went by Chris Edwards on the radio, so I'm one to talk!)
To the book. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August caught my eye because it had an existential/quantum physics kind of vibe to the title, and notions and ideas about space and time being fluid, alternate realities and dimensions, past lives, future lives, all that shit, are interesting to me. Let's face it - there's a lot we don't know.
Even I wasn't quite ready for what a mind fuck the first half of this novel was, though. I mean...wow. WOW. I'm a fast reader, but I had to slow myself wayyyyy down to make sure I caught it all. It was equal parts Highlander, Groundhog Day, Terminator, Back to the Future, Frenemies, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Well, not equal parts - THAT would be an acid trip, not a book - but elements of. You'll have fun coming up with your own references, and I'm sure I'm missing some obvious ones.
The second half was pretty straightforward thriller, but good, intelligent thriller, with a great ending that isn't so much a twist as a blink. (Not blink as in quick...just read it, you'll see.) I really enjoyed the characters, and even had a very clear image in my head of who should play the main protagonists if this ever gets made into a movie, although the fact that one of them is dead could fuck things up for me a little from a casting director standpoint!
Anyway, we'll forgive Claire's eccentricity around her many pseudonyms - it sure works for her writing! Though it was expensive by SBBBR standards at $7.99 - you almost blew the SBBBR budget, Ms. whatsername - I'm going to highly recommend this one.