Dan Schwent's Reviews > The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
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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.


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Reading Progress

March 18, 2014 – Shelved
March 18, 2014 – Shelved as: pending
March 26, 2014 – Shelved as: the-freebie-queue
March 29, 2014 – Started Reading
March 31, 2014 –
2.0%
March 31, 2014 –
3.0%
March 31, 2014 –
8.0%
March 31, 2014 –
14.0%
April 1, 2014 –
30.0%
April 1, 2014 –
30.0% "I like this a lot but the rebirth/time travel logic seems a little suspect."
April 2, 2014 –
36.0%
April 2, 2014 –
40.0%
April 2, 2014 –
49.0%
April 2, 2014 –
51.0%
April 2, 2014 –
52.0%
April 2, 2014 –
62.0%
April 2, 2014 –
66.0%
April 2, 2014 –
71.0%
April 2, 2014 –
89.0%
April 3, 2014 – Shelved as: 2014
April 3, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-27 of 27 (27 new)

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message 1: by David (new)

David As soon as you gave the premise I thought of Groundhog Day lol. Too bad it falls a little short, great review!


message 2: by Becky (new)

Becky You lost me at Groundhog Day. I HATE that movie. 17 3/4 hours is just more Bill Murray than I can stand in a movie.

Otherwise, good review!


message 3: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent Thanks! Your mileage may vary, though. A lot of people seem to think this thing is the alligator's Adam's apple.


message 4: by David (new)

David David wrote: "As soon as you gave the premise I thought of Groundhog Day lol. Too bad it falls a little short, great review!"

Aww, Goundhog Day was cool. I worked in retail though, and felt like that was my life for a while. lol


message 5: by David (new)

David Aligator's adams apple? That's awesome, my first time ever hearing that. I wonder where it's located in anatomical relation to the Bee's knees. Probably somewhere around the Awesome gland, by the anterior Excellence artery. Food for thought.


message 6: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent I swiped alligator's Adam's apple from one of the P.G. Wodehouse Jeeves books. It's very close to the bee's knees.


message 7: by Jason (new)

Jason Koivu Did someone say Choose Your Own Adventure?!


message 8: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent Jason wrote: "Did someone say Choose Your Own Adventure?!"

I knew that would draw you in!


Rolo What? I can't find this anywhere on Netgalley. I've been wanting to read this for a while now. I'm a big fan of time loops. Although, this review makes me less excited...


message 10: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent Rolando wrote: "What? I can't find this anywhere on Netgalley. I've been wanting to read this for a while now. I'm a big fan of time loops. Although, this review makes me less excited..."

I think it's been archived already.


message 11: by Rolo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rolo Boo. I'll just have to wait until Tuesday.


message 12: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent Denise wrote: "Don't understand what you mean by "timey-wimey""

It's a Doctor Who reference to time travel and time paradoxes and things of that nature.


message 13: by ButMadNNW (new) - added it

ButMadNNW "People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey...stuff."

"Started well, that sentence."

"...It got away from me, yeah."

("Blink" was my very first episode of Doctor Who. :-D )


Steven ButMadNNW -- I've gotten so many friends hooked on Doctor Who using that episode. :D


message 15: by ButMadNNW (last edited Apr 14, 2014 01:04PM) (new) - added it

ButMadNNW Steven wrote: "ButMadNNW -- I've gotten so many friends hooked on Doctor Who using that episode. :D"

It's a fantastic place to start. One of the best time travel episodes of anything ever. It's also a great snapshot of Tennant's Doctor's personality, even though he's barely in the episode. From what little I saw of him in "Blink", I knew I had to see more.


Steven ButMadNNW wrote: "It's a fantastic place to start. One of the best time travel episodes of anything ever."

I love it! Agreed!


message 17: by John (new) - rated it 5 stars

John Bonner I almost skipped the review and then caught "Timey Wimey" out of the corner or my eye. Who could pass up a review of a time travel book by a fellow Whovian? :) This was a fair and good review, and seeing as how I am probably more tolerant of digression than the average bear I think I will give this book a chance.


message 18: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent Thanks. I hope you enjoy it.


Sherri Victor Anyone who includes "Timey Wimey" in a review is my friend.


message 20: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent I looked at your shelves. It looks like you like a bit of timey wimey too.


Sherri Victor Pretty much my favorite genre Dan.


Henry 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..." - BRILLIANT


Stacy Agree completely! I liked the time travel, but the writing was very slow and I had a hard time staying interested sometimes. I didn't get to the point of "can't put it down until I finish" until near the end of the book.


message 24: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent It had a lot of potential but I've forgotten almost everything about this book other than the concepts in the two years since I read it.


William Thank you for the review!

I loved this book, terrific fun by such a young author, Claire North, who continues to get better and better.


message 26: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent William wrote: "Thank you for the review!

I loved this book, terrific fun by such a young author, Claire North, who continues to get better and better."


Are there any more books in this series?


message 27: by William (last edited Oct 30, 2017 11:30AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

William Each of the books I have read (under this pen name) has had a radically different premise. Every one of them 5-Star for me. Astounding.

My reviews:

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
Touch
The Sudden Appearance of Hope
and the extraordinary masterpiece The End of the Day

I have the series of "The Games House" on my Kindle, yet to read.


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