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The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

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Some stories cannot be told in just one lifetime. 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. Until now. 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.

405 pages, Paperback

First published April 8, 2014

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About the author

Claire North

26 books3,502 followers
Claire North is actually Catherine Webb, a Carnegie Medal-nominated young-adult novel author whose first book, Mirror Dreams, was written when she was just 14 years old. She went on to write seven more successful YA novels.

Claire North is a pseudonym for adult fantasy books written by Catherine Webb, who also writes under the pseudonym Kate Griffin.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 10,350 reviews
Profile Image for Regan.
457 reviews110k followers
June 9, 2023
Very very Clever! The first half was pretty solid but after that halfway point it took a turn to AWESOME.
December 11, 2015
“This thing you carry inside you, I don’t know what it is. I don’t know where you got it. But Harry, the past is the past. You are alive today. That is all that matters. You must remember, because it is who you are, but as it is who you are, you must never, ever regret. To regret your past is to regret your soul.”
This book is incredible. And I have Mike to blamethank.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that I keep picturing the main character as Eddie Redmayne.

Anyone who knows me will know that this is not my typical reading material at all. I like speed. Action. A fast-paced plot. I hate conspiracies. I don't do drama. Above all else I fucking hated Groundhog Day. I don't want to have to think (I already read the news and think plenty of work), for my reading, I want to be entertained. In that sense, this book should have been the antithesis of anything I would ever enjoy.

I was so wrong, so blissfully, gleefully wrong.

What a wonderful book. What a marvelous piece of literature. The hype is real.

This book is about a man who has to relive his life over and over and over, seemingly without end. That is my version of hell. Like most people, I suffer from the ailment of overthinking. I tend to overanalyze my life, I sometimes wished I had another life. I can't think of anything more horrendous than having to relive one's life over and over again. I suppose the prospect might be fun for some, if one is born with a silver spoon in one's mouth. But what if one were born into hardship? Imagine, say, a child born into the depths of poverty in Africa. There is only so much upward mobility that's possible for such a person. With few exceptions, it is difficult to change one's path in life.

Imagine knowing what's going to happen, and unable to prevent it. All the tragedies, all the needless deaths that have occurred since one's birth. It's enough to drive a person mad.

To relive one's life is nightmarish indeed.

This book explores that concept with exceptional depth and reality. The writing is beautiful. Evocative without being purple-prosey in the slightest. To take a few words from J.K. Rowling, the author of this book did things with words I've never seen before. It's magical. She manages to verbalize the concept of a single word, spinning it into a paragraph without making it seem utterly unnecessarily verbose.
Euphoria is, I believe, the term they use to describe the sensation, and upon experience I found it to be an entirely useless definition, as it relies on comparatives that are not apt to the situation. A happiness beyond compare, a contentment beyond understanding, a bliss, a travelling, a freeing of the mind from the flesh–these are all, in their ways, an appropriate description of the process, but they mean nothing, for no recollection can re-create them and no substitute mimic them.
This book doesn't deal with the issue of depression as much as it deals with the issue of existentialism, and in many ways, they're the same.
“I know now that there is something dead inside me though I cannot remember exactly when it died.”
The despair of existence, the fact that one has to relive life after life, finding meaning in each, and then losing it. Making impossible decisions knowing the consequences. Losing loved ones over and over again.
My loss of faith was not revelatory, nor intensely distressing. It was a prolonged growth of resignation, one which the events of my life had only reinforced, until I was forced to conclude that any conversations I had with a deity were entirely one way.
Now to the negatives. The writing aside, this book moves at the pace of a snail with a broken leg (I know that snails don't have legs, but isn't that the cutest imagery ever?). Here, have a cartoon.

Nevertheless, the writing more than makes up for the slow pacing.
Profile Image for Vrinda Pendred.
Author 15 books67 followers
August 31, 2023
WARNING: There are 'spoilers' in this review.

So, I think one big issue is that this book was promoted as a time travel story - but it's not. There is very little about this book that is actually sci-fi, despite how it was marketed when I purchased it.

Harry (the narrator) is one of many who live their natural life, only to find that following death, they are reborn in the same life, to start all over again. Most people with this condition can't remember details of their previous lives when they're reborn. Harry is one of the rare few who remember 'everything'. He is labelled a 'mnemonic'.

That said...no matter what you do in each successive life, 'you cannot change anything'. It even says on the back of the book, 'Nothing ever changes,' and, '...he tries to save a past he cannot change....' However, if you alone remember all your previous lifetimes, you're a wild card. Without even trying, you're going to start influencing your environment / the people around you / the events that occur. It is not possible for everything to be exactly the same. Things WILL change - potentially quite big things. At the very least, YOU will change dramatically.

Say you live maybe 80 years, die, and you're reborn...into the same family, the same life, and you remember everything. This means you have to redo all of infancy, childhood and adolescence knowing you lived before and anticipating every event. Thinking about the title of the book - if this happens to you at least 15 times over, that's a minimum of 280 years spent growing up, over and over again. I would lose my mind.

Overall, you'd have lived maybe 1,200 years. That's 1,200 years of witnessing the same events, meeting the same people, being forced to do the same things, hearing the same 'news', etc. There'd be no excitement anymore. Music, films, etc. would never be new again. Politics would have no meaning. You'd have to get to know people again and again, even though you already know them. You'd never fall in love for the first time again, unless you sought other people and abandoned your whole childhood set-up, again and again. Death would lose all significance, because you'd know you'd see everyone again. Your own death would be meaningless, because you'd expect to be reborn.

What would you do if you were being treated like a 3-year-old but could remember being 80? You'd definitely start rebelling and doing whatever you liked. With time, I expect you'd possibly start dabbling in suicide, or maybe even murder. It would be hell and you would be doing absolutely anything to stay sane - but I don't think you'd succeed.

However, Harry largely spends every life sitting around in someone's living room talking about politics...presumably 1,200 years of tirade after tirade about things like communism, which surely lose all meaning after that long. And what does it matter, if you can't change anything anyway? You're just going to die and end up back in the same political climate with no evolution. How do you even know the future exists?

I also struggled to latch onto any characters - there was someone new in just about every 3-page chapter, typically never seen again. There was no one to hold onto, and they were all of the same mold - elitist / middle-class and conveniently brilliant at quantum physics. Harry himself has all this time to think and grow and develop as a human being, but he spends much of the novel standing in dreary rooms drinking whiskey and speculating that life is meaningless.

However, my real issue with this book is the political views it promotes. I found them deeply offensive, showing such little regard for the victims of history. And it really doesn't warm me to the book when fans leave comments on this review like, 'You're just too stupid to know how to read.' Yeah, I'm deleting any and all abuse, thanks.
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
3,005 reviews10.6k followers
April 3, 2014
Harry August is a kalachakra, a man who is reborn at the same point in time over and over with his memories intact. When a little girl warns Harry on his eleventh death bed that the end of the world is coming sooner with each cycle, Harry goes on the offensive. Can he stop the end of the world, even with the help of the Cronus Club?

I got this from Netgalley.

I love a bit of timey-wimey and this book has it in spades. Remember the movie Groundhog Day where Bill Murray experiences the same day over and over? Now, imagine the day is a lifetime and there are other people experiencing it as well. That's pretty much the plot.

I'm going to get my gripe out of the way first. The book moves at a glacial pace, mostly due to the constant digressions. The publisher's blurb makes it sound like the world is in jeopardy immediately. Not so. I was 30% of the way through the book by the time the little girl showed up.

That being said, this is a very compelling book. It deals with classic time travel themes like not messing with the past and weighty topics like how our experiences make us who we are. Harry's not the most interesting character I've ever read about but he lives some interesting lives.

Once the little girl finally shows up to warn Harry during his eleventh life, everything is kicked up a notch and Harry's lives finally have a greater purpose. Harry being reborn as himself in the same point in history every time reminds me of reading the same Choose Your Own Adventure book over and over without being able to keep your thumb at the previous choice so you can go back. "Maybe if I run away at age six, everything will turn out okay..."

Kalachakras at the beginning of their life cycles handing off info to kalachakras at the end of theirs was a novel way of passing info back in time, even though the information could taint the timeline.

At the end of the day, I'm not really sure how to go about rating this. I loved the concepts and the writing was very good but Harry wasn't a very compelling lead. The endless digressions were a little annoying. I guess I'll give it the traditional safety rating of three stars.

Profile Image for Craig Allen.
291 reviews18 followers
May 5, 2014
1.5 stars. Never have I ever been so happy to finish a book. Reading this one was an absolute chore, but I just couldn't quit because I hate quitting books. And I wanted to see how it ended, so I guess I did care to an extent. It dragged on and on and on and so much history stuff and rambling. I thought it was this terrible book, a cure for insomnia, until I got on here and saw all the 5 star reviews. Maybe it was just not my cup of tea. I will say it picked up in the last 30% or so and the first 20% was good, but the middle was a big bore. It's the story of a type of person that lives their lives over and over after their death, no matter how they die, and what happens when someone in the group attempts to change the world, which is a big no-no. A great idea for a story, but really rambled too much for me. Kind of like this review. :) Definitely not recommended for anyone that has any sort of A-D-D.
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
554 reviews60.5k followers
March 19, 2017
I'm a little torn as to how to review this book. Obviously, I liked it since I gave it 4 stars. I even think this would be a great movie!
I love the premise and I really wasn't expecting this.

This Sci-Fi/Thriller really intrigued me but at the same time, some parts were a bit slow. It makes sense if you think that we're literally talking about 15 lives though. A lot will happen but the back and forth was a bit much sometimes.

Overall I totally recommend it if the summary interests you!

**SMALL SPOILER ** (not really in my opinion but just in case...)
I was a little disappointed that there was so many other kalachakra, anyone else?
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.8k followers
November 30, 2019
This was a fascinating SF novel! 4.5 stars. Harry August lives his life, over ... and over ... and over. His memory gradually returns to him when he's a toddler in each life. The first time his prior memories reawaken, in his second life, he thinks he's insane and ends up committing suicide when he's only about seven, only to find himself starting all over again in a third life. Since clearly the suicide route doesn't solve his problem, he gets down to the business of trying to figure out how to best live his life lives.

One of the beauties of Harry's repeated lives is that it lets us explore how many different directions this type of time travel could go, and all the wrinkles that would develop: How much can you gamble on sure things and get away with it? Do you look for the same person to love each time? Do you try to assassinate Hitler or save JFK? Would it work? Should you even try?

In his fourth life Harry tries sharing his secret with others and ends up tangling with people who want to use his knowledge of future events for their own purposes. The one good thing that comes out of this process is that he discovers that there are others like him. They call themselves the Kalachakra, which is a Buddhist wheel of time concept:


or Ouroborans, after the snake eating its own tail:

The Kalachakra have formed secret clubs and try to help each other out, especially during their difficult early childhood years. Club members can (very slowly) pass questions back and forth through time: a young person will give a message to another member when he's old, so that when he is born again he can in turn pass the message to another member who is at the end of her life - and vice versa. And so future connects to past, older to younger. Like any society, they have their rules - which include not doing anything that will drastically change the future. But someone, somewhere, is breaking the rules, and the message is passed down the line from the future: "The world is ending, sooner and sooner. And we don't know why."

The first half of the novel is more of an exploration of the ramifications of this type of life, but it takes an interesting turn in the second half, into kind of a multi-life espionage thriller, as Harry tries to find out the reasons for this looming global catastrophe. But his involvement leads to more trouble than he could have imagined, and there's an extremely tense and exciting cat-and-mouse hunt in the later chapters that kept me up far too late.

It’s interesting that the premise here is so similar to Life After Life - it even takes place roughly during the same time period in the early to late 1900's - except that in this book we have the Groundhog Day aspect of no loss of memory with rebirth. This book isn't as "literary" as Life After Life and I’m sure that many readers won’t like it nearly as well as that one. But this novel did have a fair amount of unexpected depth that was welcome, and - despite a number of plot weaknesses - I just had so much more fun reading this book than the much bleaker (and far more repetitive) Life After Life.

The plot weaknesses are pretty spoilerish, so read at your own risk: These last two plot elements definitely struck me as more convenient than plausible.

So these pulled my rating down. I keep thinking that logically this is closer to a four star book than a fiver, but it just captured my imagination and reading it gave me a lot of joy. So I'm rounding up, just because I want to.

Content advisory: Frequent violence (including torture, murder and attempted murder) and a fair number of F-bombs. Lots of amoral and immoral characters.
Profile Image for Jenny.
188 reviews1,311 followers
June 27, 2015
Wow, whatever I was expecting, it definitely wasn't this. It's historical, it's science fictional, it's a spy novel, it's a long episode of DW sans the time & space travel, it's a spiteful letter of twisted friendships and vengeance. WHAT DOESN'T HAPPEN IN THIS BOOK?!
Profile Image for Matt Quann.
652 reviews388 followers
April 13, 2019
…fifteen reasons to read The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

1. The Book (or, the short review). It is a fun, fast paced, endlessly readable novel.

2. The Premise. You live, you die, and that’s the end of the road. Except, that’s not quite it for the Ouroborans, who live, die, and are reborn to relive their lives. Think of the Ouroborans as those whose lives end at their beginning.

3. The Lead Character. Harry August is compelling, relatable, and a guy I loved to root for throughout the entire read. Despite being an 800-year-old being, he’s surprisingly down to earth and still trying to figure out *best stoner voice* what does it all mean, man?

4. The Other Characters. The supporting cast of Harry’s unique family, the other Ouroborans, and even the minor characters are brought to life by North’s deft hand.

5. The Villain Or should I say antagonist? His motivations are not entirely dastardly and, indeed, offer a thoughtful counterpoint to Harry’s philosophy. Instead of this character being a mustache-twirling cliché, he’s a well thought out foil.

6. The Similarities I found this had touches of Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks and Atkinson’s Life After Life, though only insofar as they both deal with reincarnation. I understand that another buzz novel of 2016, Dark Matter, also deals with alternate timelines and questionable decisions. I do plan on reading Dark Matter, but this book nicely sated my hunger for the alternate timeline genre (which I’m sure I just made up).

7. The Differences There’s something unique about this story, and I think its individuality is due to the titular character. There’s concepts that may sound similar, but Harry August’s journey is different enough that I never felt as if I were retreading old ground. Think of the aforementioned books like a hotdog: the bun may be the same, but the meat and condiments are unique to each hotbook/bookdog.

8. The New Twist on a Timeless (eh? eh?) Genre. You know how some time travel stories play loose and fast with their rules? Not so in North’s novel. She establishes rules that are strictly upheld throughout the entire read. There’s no deus ex machina, no heretofore-unknown aspect of time travel. She sticks to her guns and delivers a take on the genre that feels fresh.

9. The World Tour. This novel moves from England to the furthest reaches of Russia, spends some time in China before hitching a ride to America. I mean, a guy can’t live endless lives and not travel a bit, amirite?

10. The Short Chapters. There’s something very bingeable about short chapters. I was studying for a massive surgical exam during a lot of my reading, but I was always able to read a chapter or two before drifting off to sleep. When I was finally able to sit down this weekend, I couldn’t help but read just one more chapter.

11. The Heartfelt Story. It’s so easy for science fiction and fantasy novels to put their cool concepts in the front of the story and have the character work suffer. Hey, I like those novels too! But North delivers both compelling character work and character-motivated plot alongside great concepts.

12.The Lack of Laser Beams. By that I mean, this is a pretty grounded sci-fi. The high concept stuff deals more with extrapolation of theories in physics (which I confess to knowing very little about) than Star Wars-esque battles.

13. The Combat. You’ll find no swordfights, no gunplay, and only passing physical violence. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August plays more with subterfuge, science, romance, and torture than it ever does typical action-fare.

14. The Multiple Genres. I got to thinking after I finished the book: in which mind box would I place it? It certainly has a sci-fi premise, but it also works as a character study. But then I get to thinking about the progress of science versus human cost, the rivalry of two powerful men, the straight-up spy sections and I find it difficult to categorize. Luckily, it all melds together like the disparate ingredients in a good stew.

15. The Writing? North (a pseudonym) is a great writer. I loved her turns of phrases, her believable dialogue, and the way she could bring a scene to life with lively exposition. Though I was never sent to a dictionary, I never felt as if I were reading a novel that was too simple. The pacing was phenomenal, and North has a way of dropping you off the edge of a cliff at a chapter’s end, only to reveal your safety harness at the last moment in the next chapter. It is a pleasure to read a novel that is not only fun, but a piece of well-constructed writing.

There you have it…
Profile Image for Debbie W..
763 reviews570 followers
October 23, 2022
April 2022 is my self-proclaimed "Fantasy/Science Fiction Month"!

Why I chose to read this book:

1. I was intrigued by a review written by my GR friend, Mary;
2. I was fortunate to find this copy a couple of years ago at my local library's annual book sale; and,
3. check out that title!

1. a fascinating depiction of kalachakra/ourobarans - people who loop perpetually through historical events, though their own lives many change. Think of it like the movie Groundhog Day (only much deeper and darker), where they are destined to be reborn again and again;
2. the sophisticated writing style of this unique time travel story kept me riveted throughout. I could not predict the outcome of this story, which suited me just fine;
3. strong characters within a strong plot! Multifaceted MC Harry August comes across a variety of memorable characters in his multitude of lifetimes;
4. the main storyline is interspersed with significant flashbacks; and,
5. it made me ponder the philosophical question - if I had the chance, would I change anything in history and/or in my life, and if so, would this make things better or worse?

1. I came across some minor inconsistencies at the beginning of the book, but not enough to put me off from reading it in its entirety; and,
2. some technical, scientific mumbo-jumbo (physics?) that I had a hard time wrapping my pretty little head around, but luckily for me, I persevered and quite enjoyed the overall story!

Overall Thoughts:
This question was posed at the end of the book: If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
I just love books that make me think!
Profile Image for Luffy (Oda's Version).
765 reviews761 followers
January 1, 2018
This is a book that draws inspiration from both Groundhog Day and an episode of X-Files whose name escapes me for now. Harry August is a tough negociator. Whenever Harry relives a section of his life he tries hard to do his best to improve his lot. Yes, the main character relives his childhood and does his best to make amends to change his past experiences.

I thought the premise was something slightly stale that needed to be addressed to make more of an impact. But I forget that this book is very much beloved by the Goodreads reviewing community. Maybe I've this reaction because I recently watched Source Code, a sci fi movie with the same flaws as this book.

The reason I'm not delving into the fabric itself of the story is that you can't go into details in this case without getting spoilery. Also, I'm a bit puzzled as to why I didn't like this book as much as others. Before I forget, the book Dark Matter too is a similar, vaguely so, but the impression is imprinted enough to get a tired, clicheed, deja vu feeling. This book is subpar IMHO, and though 3 stars is nothing to sneer at, the story doesn't warrant a greater score.
Profile Image for Christina Loeffler.
143 reviews17.3k followers
April 30, 2019
3, I really wanted my 100th review to be a 5-star read but alas, this was not it stars!!

Full review featured on my blog Recipe and a Read!

Harry August appears to be just a normal man. Born, living, dying like anyone else you’d see on the streets. The only difference is that Harry August isn’t a normal man, he’s a kalachakra. A person who is reborn at the same point in time over and over again with his memories remaining intact. As Harry’s eleventh life is coming to a close a little girl, perched on the edge of his death bed tells Harry that as each cycle of his life closes the end of the world is coming sooner and sooner. This message has been passed down from child to adult, child to adult, over and over again ultimately reaching Harry. This little girl charges Harry with helping keep the apocalypse from coming to fruition.

The world is ending, as it always must. But the end of the world is getting faster.

Unfortunately, I found The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August to be tantamount to watching cement dry for the majority of the read. This could be my own fault, I started this book, couldn’t get into it, put it down and didn’t listen to my instincts and came back to it only to find that my original assertion that this book wasn’t for me was definitely correct. Ah, why can I not trust my gut sometimes.

A good portion of the start of this book revolves around the ins and outs of what it means to be reborn over and over with your memories. How Harry handles different situations, how telling another person and the subsequent interest of the government and other nefarious organizations affect that life. North discusses what it’s like to be a child who is both “six years old and one hundred and fifty” along with the grief, alienation, joy and excitement to be found in living such a life. The range of emotion and sheer imagination that went into this was truly incredible and for the most part, I enjoyed these aspects.

What is the point of me? Either to change a world–many, many worlds, each touched by the choices I make in my life, for every deed a consequence, and in every love and every sorrow truth–or nothing at all.

There is a long list of things that didn’t work for me. As I mentioned earlier, this book moves slower than molasses in January. However, I’ve read slow books and still walked away loving them. What really lost me here are the numerous plot holes. If you��re going to write something of this scope, you’re also running the risk of falling into plot hole traps for the sake of convenience. You can’t eliminate the laws of physics because it doesn’t fit with your story line – you’ve got to think through that story line to make these two things fit. An example of this is that North wants death to be simultaneously a big deal and a small issue for kalachakra. However, you can’t have Harry being endlessly cavalier about death, while also touting that our hero is in danger.

The problem with time travel and alternate universes is it takes a lot of intricate thought to create a story line that doesn’t fall to pieces upon closer inspection. Kalachakra have a “no interference” policy, i.e. you can’t have someone living their life out and then killing Hitler because it would change too many aspects and could end the life line of another. However, Harry can marry different people, serve in wars, then not serve in wars, change small things, change seemingly larger things but there isn’t any consistency. Who determines what’s a “big deal” to change and what isn’t?

Time is not wisdom; wisdom is not intellect.

My last and final gripe is this: Harry August was a boring AF narrator and MC. I just couldn’t get into his inner monologues and to be a person who is born over and over with your memories intact and still be a snooze fest seems like more work than just being interesting. So I don’t think I need to tell anyone that this wasn’t my favorite read. I’m always hesitant to negatively review things because I’m no author and the scope of writing an entire novel I find supremely impressive. While this one wasn’t for me, I could see this being fun for others – especially a book club given the various details going on in this read.
Profile Image for carol..
1,575 reviews8,225 followers
May 4, 2020
I really loved Touch and thought it quite engrossing. I've had this on my shelves for ages, waiting for the right mood to dive in. Alas; either pandemic or the wrong mood. As it is about a man who is always reborn after he dies to the exact same life--think Groundhog's Day only with one's whole life--it just didn't work for me.

I found it too repetitive, even as North tried to pull interest by working in secret societies, government agents, madmen and world cataclysms. I invested a lot in the beginning as the narrator lives and struggles to understand what is happening to him as he relives his first few lives. This portion of the book is almost like historical fiction, as he talks about growing up a bastard and then fighting in the Second World War. There's also a lot of Narrator Thinkiness (aka 'rumination') in this book that didn't work for QuarantineBrain either, as the narrator works out what things all mean, what it means to change history, and if there are other people like himself.

I finally quit with only mild prejudice at page 139, chapter 33. Although, I did jump ahead to find out what happened, which made me mildly even less inclined to go back and finish. I think I'll keep it on the shelves longer and see if it takes at a later date, when all my own days aren't so repetitive.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,104 followers
September 19, 2015
I'm almost speechless.

This is one hell of a nonlinear exploration of a repeated life, as can be deduced from the title, but it's also a lot more. It's also a lot better, too.

I loved the premise from the get go. All Groundhog Day but stretched for a whole lifetime, and Harry isn't alone. There are others with effective immortality sharing info through repeated but changeable timelines, allowing for a linear continuation of a setting that can be changed with every single revision.

Claire North did an absolutely fantastic job exploring all the ramifications and rules of the existence, but more importantly, she spun a fantastic tale of exploration and intrigue, revenge, and implacable willpower.

Whatever might have begun as a rather humdrum initial character quickly became one of the most fascinating and deep character studies I've had the pleasure to read in quite some time. More importantly, I didn't even have to stew over it, because the writing was as clear as crystal despite the inherent risk of an inherently complex tale falling apart due to being told out of order.

Of course, this was an absolutely fantastic novel. It didn't fall apart at all. More importantly, it sucked me right in even as I wanted to be a part of the premise and the world and DO things there.

For a long while, there were no distractions that I had to focus on exclusively, and I liked that aspect.

Later on, this changed entirely, and it was smart and intense. The later development was very warm, with an extremely sympathetic and likeable villain. I was pretty amazed that it took several lifetimes to finally wrap up satisfactorily, and it truly did satisfy.

This was a serious piece of literature. I'm surprised and kinda shocked that it didn't make the Hugo list last year. If I had this lifetime to do over, I'd make sure everyone knew this was a serious contender and make sure people knew it was a shoe-in. As it is, I'm pretty sure this novel will stand the test of time, and if there is any justice in the world, people will still be mimicking or talking about it 20 years from now.

Yes. It is that good.

Truly excellent depth and exploration of both story and character, and a premise that is superior to almost any time travel tale I've ever read. I got done with the Lives of Tao series not too long ago, and I really wanted to compare the two because they were close in time and subject, but after reflection, I have to say that this novel is superior in style and seriousness. The other was just plain fun. This one made me believe.

Profile Image for B Schrodinger.
305 reviews673 followers
April 30, 2014
Read the blurb and you are going to think like I did. Hasn't 'Groundhog Day' and Ken Grimwood's Replay finished this genre? It's a great premise, but more of a novelty. But then I thought that going into the recent film 'About Time' which charmed my pants off (nothing to do with a goofy red-headed protagonist with the ability to travel through time, no siree).

Surely this novelty situation has been done by now.

Well maybe now it has, because after reading this novel I sure as hell know it certainly wasn't before.

While the premise is not fresh, Claire explores the implications of the scenario to the extreme. She pushes this mini-genre to it's absolute limits. She explores this scenario with an intelligence and inventiveness that astounds.

Take any good SF story that creates an interesting premise and after you finish it you daydream about the situation and think 'wouldn't it be cool if they did this' or 'maybe if the author went in this direction they could have explored this aspect a little more'. I dread to think that I cannot do that with this book. Claire has managed to delve into any possible imagination and with the unique style of the premise has been able to present all of these possible ideas. Yes you can attribute some of this potential to the genre, but Claire sure brings the ideas and milks the potentials to the nth degree.

I also admire the writing in other ways. Firstly there is science in here. And even projected near-future science. And while it is obvious that Claire is not a scientist and the real concepts were not explained too scientifically, the author managed to tread the line of having science in a story that was entirely credible to a scientist. There was no showing off. There were no inconsistencies. There was no injecting random scientific jargon. This is how non-scientific SF should be written.

Another aspect that I admire is that the author did not fall into a most obvious trap. And this is probably one that is spoilerific so I won't name it. But suffice it to say that most authors of lesser talent would have fallen into that trap so hard and undermined the whole beauty of this book. Indeed had this book been a television show or a comic book that hole would have been fallen into most definitely.

So while it may not have the nostalgia and the charm of the other takes on this concept, it certainly makes up for it in inventiveness and the extreme pushing of all ideas and concepts that eventuate from this situation.
Profile Image for David Putnam.
Author 18 books1,597 followers
December 6, 2019
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August. 12-06-2019
I understand how this book would not be for everyone. It’s a story of resurrection. Each time Harry August dies he awakens in the same year as his first life and starts over again. At about age six he reacquires all the knowledge from his previous life. The others of his kind seek each other out. Who hasn’t wished for a second chance, “Knowing what I know now?” Of course, there has to be conflict that carries the story forward and there is a bad guy. He’s someone of similar ilk who wants to find out the true meaning of the universe through knowledge and by building the, Quantum Mirror. To accomplish this, the bad guy has to accelerate the knowledge in his life time which each time he does it the world gets torn apart a little more. And interesting complications is that the bad guy is also best friends with Harry August.
I really loved this premise. It really worked for me. The author did a marvelous job telling a very complicated story and I was never confused or lost. This book, in different ways of course, reminded me of Little Big Man by Berger and at the same time To Where Your Scattered Bodies Go, by Farmer, both books I absolutely loved. This book could easily be a series.
For the readers who like this type of story, I highly recommend it.
David Putnam author of The Bruno Johnson series.
Profile Image for Lotte.
559 reviews1,116 followers
May 17, 2017
For most of my time reading this, I didn't think it was necessarily the book's fault that I wasn't enjoying it. I was convinced that it wasn't a bad book, it just wasn't my cup of tea. But now that I've finished it, I'm like "You know what? This is actually a pretty bad book after all." And here's why:
- Harry August has literally zero personality and for the entire book, he felt more like a walking concept than an actual person. Like I said in one of my status updates, it's actually astounding to me how Harry lived through all of these lives and managed to develop not even an ounce of personality through all of them. You'd also think he'd be a lot wiser after hundreds of years of living, but he still made some incredibly dumb decisions. Speaking of characters, most of the other characters were pretty bland as well and frankly, I didn't care for any of them.
- The whole structure of the book is way off. For the first half we seem to aimlessly jump through Harry's various first lives, which made me personally feel even more distanced from the story and its characters.
- While the whole concept for the story had lots of potential, it ultimately lost itself in utterly boring discussions of philosophy and science.
- The plot itself didn't develop for quite some time and in the end it resolved in such an unsatisfactory way that I was actually a little angry that I wasted so much time on this book.
During my first time trying to read this, I thought it just wasn't the right time for me to read it and put it on hold (see my first review down below), but as it turns out it's never the right time to read this, because it's just a bad book. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


I got roughly halfway through this book, but now I'm putting it on hold for a while. It's just not the right time for me to read this. To copy one of my status updates: "I feel like the problem I'm having with this book is that it's trying to do too much. It's trying to incorporate all of Harry's lives, while also dealing with issues like world politics, ethics, science, philosophy... the list is endless. I get that the major theme of this book is the immense complexity of life and I think that's very interesting, I just don't think it's handled in a way that's fun or engaging to read about." I still think the story has lots of potential though, so I'll definitely come back to this soon!
Profile Image for Mangrii.
899 reviews262 followers
June 3, 2018
4,5 / 5

Harry August se ve obligado a vivir una y otra vez su vida tras la muerte, pero conservando todos los recuerdos de sus anteriores existencias cada vez que vuelve a nacer. Todo cambia al final de la decimoprimera vida, cuando una niña acude a su lecho de muerte alertándolo de que el mundo se acaba cada vez más rápido de lo que debería hacerlo. Así, Harry dedicará sus próximas vidas a intentar investigar y detener el proceso que amenaza con el apocalipsis de la Tierra apresuradamente, adelantando los acontecimientos en la historia tal y como la conocemos.

Claire North (también conocida como Kate Griffin o Catherin Webb) nos presenta un relato de ciencia ficción compuesto por la superposición de las diversas vidas del protagonista de forma no lineal, dosificando la información y dotando la lectura de una constante intriga. Utiliza para ello un narrador en primera persona encarnado por Harry August, relatando en forma de memorias una historia llena de detalles que rompe la secuencia lineal de su vida. El libro consta de capítulos cortos que no suelen exceder las 5 o 6 páginas con una escritura cuidada y un ritmo que hace que la obra sea ligera y muy amena. North combina de forma muy eficiente la paradoja temporal que supone su mundo, la historia del s.XX por la que nos lleva las vidas de Harry August y una temática thriller en el último tercio de la historia .

Si algo es crucial y llama la atención del libro es la paradoja temporal que supone el amasijo de vidas y posibilidades que puede suponer el desarrollo de una vida en la misma época histórica una y otra vez.Puede sonar confuso tanto salto en el tiempo hacia delante, tantos episodios entremezclados de diferentes vidas, pero para nada lo es, North tiene la habilidad de introducir estos detalles de forma escalona y sencilla de seguir permitiendo engarzar los acontecimientos con ritmo constante. Es interesante el planteamiento de North, por muchos cambios que se lleguen a introducir en la historia, ciertos grandes eventos siempre se mantienen de una forma u otra, la historia se mueve por ciclos inmutables.

Los personajes es otro de los puntos fuertes del libro. Interesantes, bien descritos, con personalidades dibujadas y bien construidas, ya que la autora se toma su tiempo para desarrollar a sus protagonistas a través de las historias que narra Harry de sus vidas.Una novela muy sólida e interesante, que muestra como los pequeños cambios pueden afectar a la vida de un hombre, que explora la importancia de las acciones de cada persona en el devenir de los hechos y que compone una serie de historia paralelas de lo más absorbentes. Prepárate para recorrer varios episodios conocidos de la historia en busca de un enemigo no identificado que ha puesto en peligro el futuro de la Tierra. Quince vidas dan mucho por contar, pero a mí no me hubiera importado tener que conocer unas cuantas más.

Reseña en el blog: https://boywithletters.blogspot.com/2...
Profile Image for Mareeva.
368 reviews5,994 followers
April 4, 2023
4 stars

Imagine living out your life, only to be reborn on the same date, same place, in the same body with all your memories intact.....forever

That's what Harry August's entire existence entails. The MC is basically a 700 year old man in a child's body.

I am Harry August, born New Year’s Day 1919.
I am sixty-eight years old.
I am eight hundred and ninety-nine.

Doesn't that (sort of) remind you of a certain man child from The Umbrella Academy?

HA NO. Number 5 had an actual personality. Harry however didn't, even considering the fact he had centuries to perfect it.

The book was written in the first POV, but it felt like third because there was not much emotion in the way the hero spoke.

I know now that there is something dead inside me though I cannot remember exactly when it died.

Everything was told in lyrical sentences that upheld a clinical clarity for most of this book. I could never tell what Harry was feeling. Not to say that there weren't many emotional scenes or phrases that had my heart beating out of my chest.

Because truly this book has one of the most gripping concepts I've ever read.

Harry August is an orphan in every life. A spy in several. He has been a monk that travelled most of the world... and a soldier who has seen the world war more times than anyone ever should. He has fallen in love and killed in cold blood. Worked as a doctor for one lifetime, committed to asylums in the next. Died as a little boy just as he did in old age from a sickness he can't escape.

Harry has lived through so many extraordinary lives, each one the same yet so different.

Death holds no fear for us.
It is rebirth where the terror lies. Rebirth, and the lingering fear that no matter how much our bodies are renewed, our minds cannot be saved.

Until finally he discovers a secret society that lives within time itself: The Cronus Club.
It holds members that possess abilities much like his own and so they call themselves "the Kalachakra"

The world-building was unique, unlike anything I have ever read before (which isn't surprising since I read complete trash but BEAR WITH ME). They communicated back through generations of time, left messages to be found in the future, helped members and just as well, ruthlessly terminated those who couldn't follow the rules that kept their club alive for thousands of years.

And I don't say "ruthlessly" lightly. This book had some torture techniques that were hard to get through.

if nothing is to change at all, then we must watch our own kind constantly and punish ruthlessly, and live without remorse

But the story of Harry's life really starts on his death bed, his 11th death bed to be precise. When a little girl with a german accent comes to him declaring she is from the future and carries what might be, the most important message of any of his life-times.

The world is ending. And with each rebirth, it's getting closer & closer to the 20th century.

What did I say about that Umbrella Academy reference *cough*


Here is a simple sentence for all of us simple-minded people (example):

Is it bad to add too much sugar to a coffee? Seems unhealthy, so I'll refrain with one teaspoon.

How this book would phrase that sentence so we have the maximum probability of brain death:

Is it a factual statement that adding glucose to your morning drinks, makes your body pressure rise above levels mortals unlike myself should concern themselves with? Or is it simply a theory that holds no scientific validity whatsoever, in order to scare our race into compliance?😱

Yes yes, you people are allowed to make fun of my shitty attempt at sounding even remotely sophisticated💀


“that there are only two solutions to this paradox? That one–the universe, finding itself unable to sustain this great burden on its being, simply ceases to be? Or that two–the universe, finding itself still somewhat confused, fixes itself in a way beyond our ken and which, by its express interest in the events of our time traveller, rather does imply conscious structure and thought more than a mere amalgamation of matter might be expected to provide. Are we to posit God?”

If you're wondering why I sound like a 20th century snob in this review (which if you know me, you'll know is not my style at all), it's because I have been reading THAT for the past 24 hours.

AND when I tell you that 90% of all conversations were structured that way^

But even with all of my complaining I'll come out and admit: I actually didn't completely hate the writing. Despite it being way too poetic for its own good, it was actually easier to read than it seems. I DIDN'T EVEN USE AN AUDIOBOOK, that should probably stand for something.

The thing that this story really excelled at, in my opinion, was THE VILLAIN. oooooh and what a villain he was. Fucker played dirty and you know what? I liked him. It takes a certain amount of genius and determination to achieve what he has.

But unfortunately for him, our hero had all that and more. The game of lies, manipulation and deceit they played around each other was something to behold. That part of the book, by all rights, deserves ALL THE STARS.

Profile Image for Q2.
293 reviews29 followers
March 6, 2014
Hot damn.

Good God.

This book was fan-tas-tic.

I read it through NetGalley before it was published. I finished it in one and a half days and as I type this, my husband is reading it. What began as me-forcing-him to sit down and read it turned into voluntary enslavement within the first few pages.

The main character of this book is clearly--Harry August. He is one of a few people on our Earth who live their lives over and over again. They call themselves kalachakras or ouraboras. (I can't check my spelling on that one because, as I said, the husband is currently absorbed.) What I thought might be a book about his lives, and the lives of others like him, quickly becomes an intricate action/drama story. Someone, sometime is changing history for the worse and it's up to Harry to figure out how to discover what's going on and put a stop to it.

North does an amazing job of writing Harry as a believable, immensely likable protagonist; he grows up poor, sort of orphaned, in England. As Harry globe trots and literally lives 'different' lives, North's imagery of each person and place only adds to the richness of this crazy story. I haven't read a book quite like this, with this premise and this sort of forward-momentum. I'm so glad someone had this idea and had the talent to execute it well.

I leave you with an excerpt from the publisher's web site:

"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.

Until now.

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. It has come down from child to adult, child to adult, passed back through generations from a thousand years forward in time. The message is that the world is ending, and we cannot prevent it. So now it’s up to you.’ "
Profile Image for William.
676 reviews338 followers
December 14, 2017
A triumph for this very young author, surprisingly mature - and fun!

Superb in every way... Wonderfully written, excellent pacing, complex characters, and the use of science fiction to examine time, mortality and memory - and more.

As you read towards the end, you find Ms North addressing one of the deepest questions of science: not: Can we do this, but: Should we do this.

Honestly, for such a young author to address these issues so eloquently, it occurs to me that she must be like her protagonists. You understand? (leave a comment!)

Top honours to Catherine Webb, writing here as Claire North. Surely an author to watch!
Profile Image for Iulia.
203 reviews93 followers
July 31, 2018
I went in expecting to love this book. The premise is definitely mysterious and intriguing, and the first chapter sets up the story beautifully, with just enough vagueness to keep you interested. However, I ended up just mildly enjoying it, thus the 3 star rating.

Harry August is a "kalachakra", a person who relives their life from birth to death multiple times, while keeping the memories and knowledge gathered during their previous lives. There are some other kalachakras in the world, most of them organized under a secret society. We get from the title that Harry August lives at least fifteen lives, which makes him over a thousand years old (even though all those years are spent in the 20th century)

The main drawback of this book is that it is very slow-paced. The first half, which I understand was important from a character development point of view, was however pretty boring. Once the action started, it was a bit cliche and predictable. I kept expecting a twist which I never got. Furthermore, what probably contributed significantly to my lack of enthusiasm was that the setting and the time period are already not my favorite.

On the plus side, both Harry and Vincent are well-developed characters, and their relationship is the highlight of this novel. There is also a philosophical dimension which arises from the immortality of the kalachakras, especially in the context of a fixed time period. What is the purpose of these people? Do they live in a universe where there is an infinity of alternate realities and they are simply able to access the memories of their counterparts from other realities? If so, do the universes where they mess everything up are destroyed after their death? If there is an infinite number of universes, what does it matter if a few are destroyed? These questions, while confusing, are definitely thought provoking.

This book is definitely well written and decently thought out, especially since it features time travel, whose ramifications and complexity are notoriously hard to get right. The characters are well developed and interesting, and if you don't mind the slow pace, you might be in for a treat. I would have honestly preferred to see something similar but without the "living the same life over and over again" dimension. While interesting in its own right, this setup is very limited and can easily get repetitive.
Profile Image for Mª Carmen.
630 reviews
August 17, 2022

Me ha sorprendido mucho este libro. No esperaba que me gustase tanto.

Al principio me costó engancharme. Tiene un comienzo un tanto confuso, con excesivas divagaciones. A medida que transcurre la acción te das cuenta de que esos flashback entre las distintas vidas, es una forma acertada de desarrollar la trama. En su contra que se extiende demasiado. Hacia el 20%, coge ritmo y se agiliza. El último tercio es un no parar.

La trama es buena y tiene calado. No va solo de viajes en el tiempo o de personas que pueden repetir indefinidamente sus vidas. Trata, ante todo, de las elecciones que hacemos. Harry August tiene que elegir, una y otra vez, entre lo correcto por duro que sea o cerrar los ojos y disfrutar de una vida hedonista. En ese sentido trasciende lo que es el mero ámbito de la CF y se convierte en una novela que puede disfrutar cualquier lector.

Los personajes principales, Harry y Vincent están bien trazados. El resto los perfila. Le sobra y le basta para presentar unos cuantos secundarios interesantes.

La ambientación bien. Recorre la historia del siglo XX en parajes muy diversos. Inglaterra, Rusia, EEUU, etc.

Pero si hay algo que destaco sobre todo lo demás es la construcción del final. Sencillamente magistral. De los mejores que he leído.

En conclusión. Una novela muy interesante, bien manejada y de las que dejan poso. La recomiendo y no solo a los lectores de CF.
Profile Image for Mike.
502 reviews378 followers
August 3, 2018
Added 8/3/2018: Here is a really great interview with the author (real name: Catherine Webb) from a podcast I enjoy. Now back to your regularly scheduled review from 2015.
"The world is ending. The message has come down from child to adult, child to adult, passed back down generations from a thousand years forward in time. The world is ending and we cannot prevent it. So now it's up to you."
Typically this would be the moment when our hero-protagonist would leap into action and save the day. However, in this case, our hero-protagonist, Harry August, is 78 and in the late stages of cancer. Like most people who are 78 and in the late stages of cancer he died and the book ended there

Or would have if Harry was not a kalachakra. An ever returning soul, Harry is literally reborn after his death(s), returned to his humble beginnings in life with a memory of all his previous ones. He is one of many who possess this trait, though why it occurs and who it occurs to is a bit of a mystery.
It is said there are three stages of life for those of us who live our lives in circles. These are rejection, exploration and acceptance.
Of course rejection, especially in the second life, is typically characterized by insanity:
As the full powers of my adult consciousness returned to my child's body, I fell first into a confusion, then an agony, then a doubt, then a despair, then a screaming, then a shrieking, and finally, aged seven years old, I was committed to St. Margot's Asylum for Unfortunates, where I frankly believed myself to belong.
Thankfully there is an organization of kalachakra that look after their own, the Chronus Club, providing support and rescue from the tedium of being five years old with a mind of a three hundred year old. Of course this club is well a well kept secret with very little of its activities being known by "linears":
"Well, it depends on which text you're reading what they have. Some say conspiratorial meetings in white robes, others go for orgies at which the next generation of their kin are created. I don't believe in either, because the Klan has really dented the white-robe fashion down South, and orgies are everyone's first bet."
Eventually Harry comes to terms with his existence and explores the possibilities his condition confers. Traveling the world, learning languages, expanding his mind with philosophy and mathematics and science. Of course he does overlook somethings:
At these words, Ugly Bill grabbed me in a bear hug from behind and, not for the first time, I wondered why in over two hundred years I'd never got round to learning some form of martial art.
Of course there are rules for kalachakra."...you can do whatever you like so long as you don't bugger it up for the next lot. So no nuking New York, please, or shooting Roosevelt, even if for experimental purposes. We just can't handle the hassle." Which sadly means no killing off Hitler (a rule that reminded me of the awesome short story Wikihistory).

This book was an excellent blend of the retelling Harry's first fifteen lives (as the title suggests), exploring the culture and characters of the kalachakra, and, in the last, half, trying to save the world. I greatly enjoyed North's time travel dynamic. Messages can be passed up and down through history by either leaving them in a permanent medium (like a stone tablet) for future generations, or daisy chain kalachakra of vastly different ages to go back in time. Hence the young girl who delivered her warning to Harry in the 1990's effectively got the message back to the Chronus club of the early 20th century when Harry gets reborn; very imaginative and unique.

North does an excellent job highlighting the main tension that drives the conflict in this book:
"In a little over twenty years man will walk on the moon. Hundreds of thousands will die in Vietnam for no apparently sensible reason, dissidents will be shot, men will be tortured, women will weep and children will die. We know all of this and we do... nothing. I'm not suggesting we change the world. I'm not suggesting we know how. What will the future be if these things do not come to pass? But we must do... something."
North deftly segues from interesting world building and character development to what I can only classify as an espionage thriller played out over several lifetimes; sufficed to say it was awesome. There was excellent tension, high stakes, and many devious challenges facing Harry. I was highly satisfied with how well North wove the entire fifteen lives of Harry together to inform his beliefs, actions, and outlook. All in all a stellar book.

But by far the most enjoyable part of the book, for me, was a excellent dry wit. Some of my favorite passages:

You know you are your own harshest critic when you dissect the potential shortcomings of your own suicide: Retrospectively, I realise that three floors are frequently not high enough to guarantee the quick, relatively painless death that such circumstances warrant, and I might easily have snapped every bone in my lower body and yet retained my consciousness intact. Thankfully, I landed on my head, and that was that.

The path to hell is paved with good intentions (and some torture!): "Goddamn it, yes. Because I'm a fucking defender of democracy! Because I'm a fucking liberal-minded believer in freedom, because I'm a fucking good guy with a good heart and damn it because someone has to!"

A question we have all asked ourselves: Why, in all my years in the east, had I not bothered to learn even a little kung fu?

A question few people have asked: No one ever considered the question of the bladder when dealing with matters of subterfuge.

A metaphor David from Steelheart would kill for: The roads weren't much to speak of, and the car's suspension had been welded in by a stonemason resentful of his change in career.

I'd hate to see Pietrok-113: If Pietrok-111 was a one-horse town, Pietrok-112 was the glue factory where that horse went to die.

Reason number one to avoid being a fugitive in Russia: The feeling was exhilarating at first, until the discomfort of the settling night and the damp cold eating through my boots reminded me that exhilaration held nothing over reliable hygiene and warm sheets.

And these are just a few of the great bits of prose. Seriously, this book was a delight to read and I highly recommend it to one and all.
Profile Image for Sara Mazzoni.
422 reviews117 followers
December 16, 2022
Le prime quindici vite di Harry August è uno dei libri migliori che abbia letto negli ultimi anni. Parla di un uomo che nasce, vive, muore e rinasce esattamente nello stesso punto e alle stesse condizioni della volta precedente; si presume per l’eternità. Un Ricomincio da capo dilatato? Sì e no, ma più no che sì; per quanto la commedia con Bill Murray sia simpatica, questo libro è meglio. Non fa ridere, è vero, ma è perché tiene col fiato sospeso mentre scava dentro a un mondo piuttosto cupo e violento. Se fosse un film, sarebbe scritto da Christopher e Jonathan Nolan.

È una spy story metafisica. C’è una cospirazione, ci sono grandi avversari. Ci sono persone che vivono la stessa strana immortalità di Harry August, un’immortalità mortale e piena di morte. L’idea dei loop apre la porta al paradosso più bello di un libro sul viaggio nel tempo – perché Harry August è a tutti gli effetti un viaggiatore temporale; come in effetti lo siamo tutti noi, con la differenza che noi viaggiamo solo in avanti, mentre August quando arriva alla fine torna sempre indietro.

L’infinito viene racchiuso in una serie progressiva di loop. Il tempo viene quindi raccontato come lineare, ma i personaggi hanno la possibilità di trasmettere informazioni all’indietro: il tempo diventa un ipertesto dove ogni punto può essere collegato all’altro, anche se le informazioni devono essere succinte ed essenziali per essere passate. Un ipertesto sobrio, minimale, insomma.

La struttura narrativa è eccellente, incastrando il racconto delle prime quindici vite di Harry August in modo non lineare, ma seguendo un ordine di senso: ogni aneddoto raccontato è linkato al precedente e al successivo per ragioni logiche, suggerendo un’idea di simultaneità, anche questa volta ipertestuale.

Le atmosfere urban fantasy prendono una piega fantascientifica, concedendosi qualche lazzo steampunk. È un romanzo per adulti che ha la freschezza dei migliori young adult, ma è dotato di una complessità narrativa superiore, e indugia su temi cupi, sul dolore e sulla morte, sulla violenza, descritta sempre minuziosamente nel dettaglio, con una discreta quantità di secchiate di sangue e gore che vivacizzano l’atmosfera, ogni tanto in modo fin troppo estremo (quasi torture porn).

Un po’ David Mitchell, un po’ Tutti gli uomini sono mortali , e un po’ qualcos’altro, qualcosa di bello. Piacevole e ben curata la traduzione. Spero con tutto il cuore che qualche editore italiano decida di riproporre gli altri romanzi della ragazza prodigio Claire North (nello specifico, proprio quelli scritti con questa firma, visto che l’autrice ha diversi alias).
Profile Image for Sara (sarawithoutanH).
512 reviews3,472 followers
April 3, 2019
The concept of this book was absolutely fascinating. I would love to read about it from more characters - there's just so much that could be done with it. The writing was also fabulous. This was a random read that pleasantly surprised me. I took off a star only because I didn't love what the plot ended up fixating on toward the end, but overall it was still very good.
Profile Image for Bill Muganda.
361 reviews229 followers
October 4, 2016
ACTUAL RATING: 4.75 Holy Fuck!
“The most it ever seems we know how to do with time, is to waste it.”

Predestination (Without the Incest) meets Time traveler’s wife (without the romance) add the thrill of Shutter Island

I have been dying to read this ever since I had the premise from Peruse Project’s Youtube Channel (Here), I wasn’t sure if I would have ever come across the physical book but when it magically appeared on a thrift shop I had to pick it up.

“There is no loss, if you cannot remember what you have lost.”

The story follows Harry August who was born in 1895 and his mother passes away as soon as she gives birth to him. We follow his life as he goes on through the ups and downs that is life until his death...

wait but wait but wait theres more

He is reincarnated or time starts all over again for him but weirdly he has all the memories and remembers everything, literally every detail from his previous life. This phenomenal happens quite often and at the beginning he loses his shit and kind of thinks he is crazy but soon he decides to seek out the answers to why he has a rest life button. It takes him through one of the most complex theories, to meeting unique characters and solving a very important mystery of ( What the fuck is going on )

snl saturday night live bill hader ooh explain

Claire North managed to balance out Literary writing with Science fiction and it was absolutely stunning. The book was so complex and with infinite possibilities that leaves the readers scratching their heads. But when the wheels of the story start moving and you finally get a grip on the story, the pages won’t stop turning.

The characters were interesting to say the least, they each sort of represented the author’s personality, some were philosophical and went on this tangent about the concept of time and quantum physics and the true meaning of life and why everything is as it is… It was so interesting to see how they explored all possibilities from Religion, Science, and History etc. Plus, the main character travels a lot, meeting avast array of colorful side characters from an Afghanistan man to a  Nigerian woman who happens to be queer to an Indian Mystic to a bad-ass Asians assassins which just felt amazing to see represented in the book.

Everything is interconnected and beautifully structured. The whole book is a big plot-twist, with every decision the character makes affecting something big in the coming pages and it was thrilling to witness this come to play.
“They say that the mind cannot remember pain; I say it barely matters, for even if the physical sensation is lost, our recollection of the terror that surrounds it is perfect.”

The themes were endless and relevant to current situations from how war came to affect future events to questions about humanity's belief in the ever battle between religion and science. Death was obviously an overall theme and I always find it fascinating when an author plays with in fiction and Claire North did it justice. The question: "if you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self? or would you kill Hitler and how will that change everything…"
“Time was simple, is simple. We can divide it into simple parts, measure it, arrange dinner by it, drink whisky to its passage. We can mathematically deploy it, use it to express ideas about the observable universe, and yet if asked to explain it in simple language to a child–in simple language which is not deceit, of course–we are powerless. The most it ever seems we know how to do with time is to waste it.”

How she managed to incorporate a lot of elements of Historical fiction, Sci-fi, Action, Thriller, Mystery and so much. This was one of a kind and I highly recommend it and after you read it pass it on because more people need this book in their hands :) And if you have read this book please tell me about it so we can gush or if you can recommend more time travel books or just say hi :)

Happy Reading & Thanks for reading :)
Profile Image for Xabi1990.
1,991 reviews897 followers
May 12, 2016
¡¡Mierda, me ha encantado!!

Y es que yo quería que no me gustara para ir de guay en el Club de Lectura del grupo de Ciencia Ficción en español y dar una sesuda reflexión de “por qué a mí (que soy muy guay) no me ha gustado y a vosotros (de la especie #mainstream vulgarísimus#) sí”.

Pero me rindo, tras un comienzo que no me ha enganchado demasiado me he acabado rindiendo al estilazo de la narración y al juego de adelante/detrás con el que te va enseñando las cartas de la historia.

Y mira que yo soy de personajes atrayentes y en esta novela sólo veo uno y medio de esos (Harry y su ¿oponente?).

Pero con el fondo imprescindible de CF por eso de los viajes en el tiempo nos plantea un juego emociones, pinceladas de personajes secundarios y pequeñas filosofadas sobre las paradojas que me han acabado atrapando y rindiéndome a que sí, soy uno mas de los que le va a poner 9/10 a esta novela.

Un acierto la votación del Club, banda.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,327 reviews2,145 followers
November 16, 2019
At first this book reminded me very much of Kate Atkinson's Life After Life. The main character is reborn repeatedly in the same place to the same people but in this story Harry is able to retain all of his memories from each life and use them to change how he lives. It is a fascinating concept and the author frequently left me completely befuddled about the logistics - my fault, not hers as she explained everything really well! The main issue of course is how small changes can have repercussions on the future world and when someone starts to make major changes by introducing inventions before they should be known, Harry steps in to prevent the end of the world. Although technically this book is not time travel it has all the same mind bending issues and Claire North handles them beautifully. A fascinating, intelligent read.
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