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The first fifteen lives of Harry August
Catherine Webb

9780356502588 - resizedHarry August was, for a first novel, a huge achievement, we were all agreed on that. Not that it stopped us pointing out some short-fallings, most notably the ridiculously badly thought-through Quantum Mirror and the chore of Harry killing the serial killer every lifetime for no particular purpose. The central plot elements though – the Groundhog Day\Star Gate theme of being born over and over into the same life and the use of the Cronos Club as a means of moving information forward and back through time – was intriguing and worked very well; and the complex relationship between Harry and Victor was really well drawn and developed.

It started a bit slowly, but livened up hugely with the Russian trip and bowled along pretty well after that. What was most notable about the characterisation was perhaps that Harry himself was unlikable and dull, whereas the peripheral characters of the other Cronus Club members were interesting and believable, as were the little diverting ‘short stories’ of those other members choosing how to live out their many lives – the army man was particularly vivid.

There were lots of unanswered questions – more on the genetic mutation that made them be reborn, and how a genetic mutation could actually do that, for example, and how some were able to ‘remember’ previous lives in great detail, others only in broad outline; and some irritating slips like the deliberate misuse of the word mnemonic which was just shoddy.

But all in all, some great writing and interesting ideas, and although she nicked the plot of her next novel from the film Fallen, I shall be looking out for it!

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