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23 thoughts on “Submit a book review

  1. First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August – Claire North

    From The Time Machine to Doctor Who time travel is a consistently popular device in entertainment. Bestselling author Kate Atkinson had an award winning stab at it recently with Life After Life. Claire North’s novel mines similar territory yet North manages to find her own distinctive voice within the genre with the mind bending tale of Harry August, a seemingly normal man with an extraordinary gift. Each time Harry dies he is reborn at exactly the same time in his lifespan destined to travel his own time line with differing consequences after each rebirth. Harry soon realises that he is not alone in having this gift and that there are rules in place designed to protect the fabric of history but what does it mean for humanity when somebody else with the gift decides to break these rules with potentially devastating consequences? Is Harry destined to be the one to stop them and if so how?
    This is an original and engaging thriller stretched across fifteen very different and surprising lifetimes as Harry discovers what he is, who he is and what he can become.

    I was sufficiently impressed to look up other work by Claire North only to discover that this is a pseudonym for author Catherine Webb who has also written a number of excellent Urban Fantasy books under the pen name Kate Griffin. Webb was just 14 years old when she completed her first novel. Still aged under 30 I suspect that the best is still to come from this talented and diverse young author.

  2. ‘Flowers for Algernon’ by Daniel Keyes

    ‘Flowers for Algernon’ is a classic sci-fi novel from the 1960s. It tells the story of a man with learning disabilities called Charlie. At the start of the book Charlie receives surgery to artificially increase his intelligence. As his intelligence gradually increases, he faces all sorts of problems, challenges and tragedies.

    I don’t read much sci-fi so I was slightly wary of starting this book. Fortunately it was just the type of sci-fi I like – instead of having zooming spaceships, it focused on character development and real-world issues (such as the implications of scientific development). Definitely not a cliché sci-fi book; anyone can read this.

    The main idea behind the book was intriguing – what happens when someone with learning difficulties increases their intelligence really quickly? I enjoyed finding out the different consequences. The most interesting consequence was the effect on Charlie’s emotional development – as his intellect changed he had to deal with lots of rapidly developing new adult emotions (such as his changing attitude towards his teacher). Don’t think I could have coped myself!

    The writing in the book was excellent. I enjoyed the journal format, which gave the story an extra layer of plausibility. I also like the idea of having different writing styles to mark the different stages of Charlie’s intellectual development – this really highlighted the drastic nature of the changes he went through.

    I found the book a bit depressing. Although there are a few positive characters, most are a bit cruel or self-centred (it was heart-breaking when Charlie realised his workmates had been teasing him for years). The plot developments were also sad (I had tears in my eyes when Charlie starts losing his intelligence at the end!). Maybe the book went too far with the negative bits, or was it just being realistic?

    Would Charlie have been better off if he had never changed at all & just stayed as he was at the start? I think he would definitely have been happier. However, happier doesn’t necessarily mean better. Because of his changes he had new experiences & gained new knowledge. I think this is more important & beneficial, even though it led to tragic consequences.

    I really enjoyed Flowers for Algernon. A heart-breaking, though-provoking and rewarding read.

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