Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August” as Want to Read:
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  55,600 ratings  ·  7,334 reviews
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 a ...more
Paperback, 405 pages
Published October 21st 2014 by Redhook (first published April 8th 2014)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Viktor Rasch I felt the same, but chose to slug through it. And while "Yes, it gets better" - it doesn't get a lot better. It gets a little better. The "plot"…moreI felt the same, but chose to slug through it. And while "Yes, it gets better" - it doesn't get a lot better. It gets a little better. The "plot" moves along better, but it is still interrupted by dull interludes. I finished it simply because I hate giving up on book. (less)
Arlene Nope - it's not the basis for the TV show FOREVER. There is a book titled "Forever" by Pete Hamill. I recently read this and enjoyed it. I can see…moreNope - it's not the basis for the TV show FOREVER. There is a book titled "Forever" by Pete Hamill. I recently read this and enjoyed it. I can see that THIS story was the basis for the TV show, but boy did the show runners cut and paste. Both are good (Forever is one of my favorite shows) but don't read the book expecting a substitute for the cancelled show. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  55,600 ratings  ·  7,334 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Aug 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Very very Clever! The first half was pretty solid but after that halfway point it took a turn to AWESOME.
I'm clearly missing something here (look at all the rave reviews!), but man, it was such a chore to get through this. At one point, the author used the term "glacial sluggishness" to describe something-or-other, and that strikes me as the perfect description for the pace and action in this book. I actually was loving it at the start, but it kept dragging on and on and on and growing more and more tedious as it continued. I felt like I was always a step behind on the science and logic (not sure i ...more
Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies
“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 i
Dan Schwent
Mar 18, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 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
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
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!

Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
$2.99 Kindle sale, Jan. 26, 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 busin ...more
Jun 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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?!
Craig Allen
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 firs ...more
Vrinda Pendred
Jan 08, 2015 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: People who enjoy watching paint dry
WARNING: There are 'spoilers' in this review.

This is possibly the dullest book I've ever read. I suppose that deserves credit of some sort. Like ‘The House of the Seven Gables’, the author excelled at making me feel so claustrophobic and trapped in a realm of endless tedium that I related to the narrator’s disgust with life after suffering through just fifty pages. That’s not the mark of a good story, though.

The 'plot', if you will (and if I sound like I'm speaking in a pretentious poncy way, it
Christina - Traveling Sister
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, perche
Feb 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Brendon Schrodinger
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 certainl
Matthew Quann
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, sci-fi
…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
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘
Jun 07, 2016 marked it as lost-interest
Shelves: 2016-reads, scifi

As much as it pains me to say, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August and me have to part ways at 51% for now. Look, I like this book enough to give it another chance someday (understand : during long, loooong vacations) but as it is, there's only so much tediousness I can take.

And oh gosh, I can't believe how dull this story is, given the amazing concept and interesting premise. That seemed so cool, okay? And sometimes it is, and I cannot turn the pages fast enough. Other times, though, I ju
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's at least one book each year that strives to be the next big mainstream/genre crossover . . . one book that tries to achieve a sort of mainstream literary respectability, while still managing to resonate with genre fans. More often than not, those crossovers don't work, and just end up disappointing one group, while alienating the other. As such, I'm always a bit reluctant to give those books a read, but read them I do, hoping that, this time, there really is a crossover success in the ma ...more
Lindsey Rey
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, science-fiction
WOW WOW WOW! Absolutely LOVED this! My mind is spinning right now.
Aug 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 di
Feb 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2017
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 th
Sara (sarawithoutanH)
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 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.
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.
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 t
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, read_2019, favorites
Harry August is a kalachakra; a person cursed or gifted depending on your point of view, to be born again over and over and over. He retains his memories from each of his previously lives yet his place of birth, family, and social status remain the same. The only thing he can change, is how soon he's able to ditch the homestead for a more promising life with those like him (he learns of others over the course of his many lives).

The premise of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is intriguin
Bill Khaemba
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 c
The theme of a character reliving the same life over and over will no doubt have you thinking of Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life*, but this book is so much better. Perhaps simply because of the first-person narration, I developed much more of a fondness for Harry August and his multiple life stories than I ever did for Ursula Todd.

“I am not one Harry August but many, a mind flicking from parallel life to parallel life...when I die, the world carries on without me, altered by my deeds, marked by
Dec 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book. Really loved the scope and scale of it. Harry is a great character and protagonist. I like that he is flawed and makes mistakes. Really liked the complexity and dynamic of the relationship he had with the antagonist as well.

Also really loved all the flashbacks of past lives and stories that others like Harry had passed down through the ages.

Can't say too much else without spoiling anything, but I do look forward to others reading it so we can discuss the ending which I have a few qu
Marianna Neal
I don't know why I doubted this book.
Loved everything about it!
Karl Wiggins
Nov 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
No man ever steps in the same river twice

Move over Plato, Pythagoras and Parmenides. Make way for Claire North.

Plato gave us his theory of forms, Pythagoras brought us transmigration of the soul beginning a new life in a fresh body (although of course he wasn't the first), and Parmenides explained how reality is one, change is impossible and existence timeless and unchanging.

Claire North, in contrast, philosophises about re-birth in the same body at the same time in an ever so slightly shifting
Roger Brunyate
The Snake that Eats its Tail

A protagonist who is born in Britain in the first part of the 20th century, experiences the Second World War in various capacities, dies several times, but comes to life again, and again, and again… It sounds like a description of Kate Atkinson's 2013 novel Life After Life, but no. I might imagine that Claire North (not her real name) might have felt some apprehension when Atkinson's novel came out while she was still working on her own, but she needn't have done. Ap
I'm not normally one to DNF (did-not-finish) books. I like to finish them if I can or at least put them aside for another time. Harry August is a tricky one because I was really excited to read it. I assumed that I'd love it because of the amazing reviews and the great concept, but that wasn't the case. It was a struggle for me from the very beginning and I just couldn't get into it. I'm reading it with my best friend and she feels the same way, which helped me come to the decision to DNF it. I ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Progress, anyone? 2 8 May 18, 2019 01:02PM  
That's not how Cold Fusion works 1 15 Mar 18, 2019 07:35AM  
Quantum Mirror (beware spoilers) 1 12 Mar 17, 2019 11:44AM  
About that ending... (Beware of spoilers) 4 253 Feb 26, 2019 09:28AM  
A possible logic flaw 4 114 Jan 15, 2019 01:28PM  
Around the Year i...: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, by Claire North 4 56 Oct 08, 2018 01:48PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam, #1)
  • Influx
  • My Real Children
  • The Flight of the Silvers (Silvers #1)
  • Afterparty
  • The Accidental Time Machine
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)
  • One Great Year
  • The Beautiful Land
  • Jack Glass
  • The Forever Watch
  • The Time Roads
  • In the Garden of Iden (The Company, #1)
  • Hollow World
  • The Underground Railroad
  • The Rising (The Alchemy Wars, #2)
  • Luna: New Moon (Luna #1)
  • All Those Vanished Engines
See similar books…

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.
“The most it ever seems we know how to do with time, is to waste it.” 131 likes
“There is no loss, if you cannot remember what you have lost.” 73 likes
More quotes…