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The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  56,553 ratings  ·  7,462 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
Kindle Edition, 417 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by Redhook
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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)

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Regan
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.
Rachel
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.

“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.
...more
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/>I
...more
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
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 interes
...more
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 business o ...more
Jenny
Jun 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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 p
...more
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/>Full
...more
Luffy
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
...more
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 read. Despite bein/>2./>1.
...more
B 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 k
...more
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘


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 just want to wail to expr
...more
Bob
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: science-fiction, 2015
WOW WOW WOW! Absolutely LOVED this! My mind is spinning right now.
Bradley
Aug 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

Cla
...more
Q2
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 ourab
...more
Iulia
Sep 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
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.
Mike
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./>
...more
Lotte
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 astoundi
...more
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.

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 :)
...more
Josh
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
...more
Rebecca
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 b/>“I
...more
George
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 h
...more
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  ·  review of another edition
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 e
...more
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. Apart from some 
The
...more
Jennifer
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I decided not to hold back. I am going to be honest, wasn't sure if I was really going to enjoy this. I had to read this for a Bossy Book challenge. I am glad I did. About 1/4 of the way in I was gone. Gone into Harry's story. Sucked in. I loved how we jumped around. (It was well done I promise). I really can't say more without spoiling the story. I can't say if this was science fiction, historical fiction, time travel...it was all of those at the same time. And yet not. I felt like I was very m ...more
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Progress, anyone? 2 11 May 18, 2019 01:02PM  
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About that ending... (Beware of spoilers) 4 263 Feb 26, 2019 09:28AM  
A possible logic flaw 4 116 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  

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2,282 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.
“The most it ever seems we know how to do with time, is to waste it.” 132 likes
“There is no loss, if you cannot remember what you have lost.” 74 likes
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