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The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

4.4 35
by Claire North

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this novel, Claire North, the pseudonym of an unnamed British author, focuses on the life of Harry August, a man who dies only to be reborn as the same person. The illegitimate son of a wealthy landowner, Harry's life is challenging not only because he is one of the kalachakra, a small group of people who have the ability to relive their lives, but also because he is a mnemonic, an individual who can remember all the details of their past lives. Harrys remarkable abilities make him the victim to all types of people throughout the novel, such as Franklin Phearson, the psychologist who tortures August until he tells him all about the future. North's fast-paced novel gets bogged down by long-winded explanations of time travel. Despite this minor flaw, the novel contains real heart. When Harry confronts his distant father or interacts with an old romance, we are reminded of true love's power and timelessness. (Apr.)
Mike Carey
"An astonishing re-invention of the time travel narrative. Bold, magical and masterful."
From the Publisher
"I don't say this lightly but The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is one of the top ten books I've ever read."—James Dashner, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Maze Runner

"An astonishing re-invention of the time travel narrative. Bold, magical and masterful."—Mike Carey

"A thoughtful and considered time-travel novel, shocking twists and, most important of all, a beautiful character. Harry August will break your heart fifteen times."—James Shurin

"A subtle study of friendship, love and the complexity of existence."—Eric Brown, Guardian

"Wonderful novel... held together by a compelling mystery involving nothing less than the end of the world itself. Beautifully written and structured...a remarkable book."—Booklist (Starred Review)


"A tremendously entertaining ride... You're sure to enjoy the trip."—Toronto Sunday Star

Product Details

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Meet the Author

Claire North is a pseudonym for Catherine Webb, a Carnegie Medal-nominated author whose first book was written when she was just fourteen years old. She went on to write several other novels in various genres, before publishing her first major work as Claire North, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, in 2014. It was a critically acclaimed success, receiving rave reviews and an Audie nomination, and was included in the Washington Post's Best Books of the Year list. Her most recent novel, Touch, was also in the Washington Post's Best Books of the Year, in 2015.

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The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is a novel by British author Clair North (a pseudonym used by Catherine Webb). Harry August is a kalachakra, one of a collection of extraordinary individuals who die, only to be reborn at exactly the same moment in history, to live parallel lives that loop perpetually through the same course of historical events, although experiencing changes within their own lives. Harry is even more unusual in that he has a perfect memory, accurately recalling the details of each of his previous lives when he is reborn. The reader meets Harry at the end of his eleventh life, when he is visited by a young girl needing him to take a message back in time, an urgent message about the end of the world. Throughout the book, the narration skips back and forth between the events of Harry’s next few lives and those of past lives that are relevant to the course of action he decides to take. North has written an ambitious novel that achieves everything it sets out to do. Her hero is likeable, all the more so because he is flawed and succumbs to temptation. In Harry’s many lives, he does much good, but he also gambles quite a lot, becomes a criminal mastermind, commits cold-blooded murder, suicides several times and admits his actions have cost the lives of many kalachakra. North’s extensive research into recent historical events is apparent in every chapter. As well as exploring the age-old themes of time travel and the effects of changing the past, she examines the effect on a person’s behaviour of knowing that their death is not final. Navigating the next life with the knowledge gained in previous lives may sound ideal (if I only knew then what I know now!), but Harry proves that it is not quite as successful as one might hope. This is a brilliant novel with a highly original plot and a great climax. Readers will look forward to more from Claire North. 
Nathan_Winssinger More than 1 year ago
Brilliant, smart, and engaging, it's a mind-tormenting piece of literature. More than fantasy or scifi, it's a novel about history, the pursuit of knowledge and of happiness, and what makes us human (and flawed). Elegant and sophisticated, complex and erudite. A real gem.
Wildflowers More than 1 year ago
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North is a hard science fiction novel and one of the strangest books I have ever read. Yet, the central character, gripping stories that deal with the intricacies and absurdities of time travel and the deft writing of the author makes it an enjoyable read. How would you live if you had your life to live over and over again? Will you consider it a blessing or a curse? Perhaps, both! Harry August is a man with many lives, literally. Every time he dies, he is born again with the ability to recall all his previous life, without missing even a simple dot. With it a he has a chance to redeem himself, correct mistakes in his previous life, and make a fresh start. But can a new beginning be possible when the past is as clear as daylight? It seems appealing enough yet to start again where it all began, and the same process repeated over and over again is not my idea of life. As Harry August is facing the inevitable prospect of dying during one of his many lives, he is told that the world is ending and is assigned the onerous task of finding out why, no matter how many lives it takes. By the end of the story, I'm grateful that we all die once, and do not have to face the same sort of cycle like Harry August in the book. Death, it appears, is a glorious thing, an end to human misery, pain and suffering. The Fifteen Lives of Harry August is also a story of friendship and betrayal, loyalty and redemption, love and loneliness and the inescapable march of time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written and well imagined.  One of the most original treatments of the time travel idea I have ever read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the book, truly. It is a unique story which says something these days.However, I found it a bit unnecessarily wordy. Sometimes I got lost in the descriptions and wanted to shout, "Get on with it already!" Another issue I had was trying to follow Henry's lives due to the story jumping back and forth between them. You could be reading about his 13th life and the next chapter would put you back in his 3rd. Overall, though, it was a truly unique concept and would like to read more from this author with the hope that the stories become more linear.
SuseNJ More than 1 year ago
Well-written, intellectually interesting, suspenseful, original and unique! Sorry it ended! Looking forward to the Next Fifteen Lives of Harry August! (just kidding)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well worth the read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story. Fast paced. Imaginative. Great writing. I look forward to reading more of her work.
AudiobookReviewer More than 1 year ago
Harry August dies at the end of each life only to be reborn as himself, an orphaned bastard in the early 20th Century; and each time he remembers…everything. At first he thinks he is insane, then he discovers others like himself, living the same life over and over again. They have formed clubs around the world. Some have become jaded and bored, indulging in wealth, sex and drugs, while others like Harry continue to search for knowledge. Harry is unique in another way, unlike the others who relive their lives, he remembers every moment in absolute, perfect detail. It is a beautifully written book, switching easily between Harry’s many lives like a darting bird. There are many challenging concepts of time and God which will keep the listener thinking hard. One especially clever idea was other life repeaters able to communicate with those in earlier or later periods through graffitied artifacts or youths finding their predecessors just before death. Mind bending stuff. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August has a 19th Century SciFi feel to the book, something like H.G. Wells or Jules Verne. The descriptive elements of the novel unfold gently and beautifully, and the listener is well rewarded for his patience. There is plenty of action and an almost blasé attitude towards some horrendous torture scenes. Harry has seen and done so many things before and knows that he will simply die, reset his life, and do it differently next time. The story and the character develop a great sense of time. It works beautifully. Peter Kenny is the narrator and does an excellent job. Harry is British as is Kenny. His voices are well done and always enjoyable. His American accents are quirky and charming, not quite right but fun to listen to none-the-less. The Fifteen Lives of Harry August is a wonderful listen and will have you looking for more books by Ms North and/or books narrated by Peter Kenny. Audiobook purchased for review by ABR. Please find this complete review and many others at audiobookreviewer dot com [If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]
Anonymous 7 months ago
Fast paced and trippy. I appreciate the development of the main character, and the time-hopping was exciting without being confusing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was suggested for mybook club and it has been our favorite to date. The plot is engaging, the characters are realistic, and the plot flows flawlessly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At firdt i didnt wanr to read this but i was grounded from my phone ( math ckass sucks) and i needed a new book to read ( i had already read all four books i got from the library) so my dad handed me this and said here youll like this niw nornally i dont like the same genre as my dad but *pause for effect* I BLEEPING LOVE THIS BOOK!!! Nice job Claire North!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There wasn't anything not to like!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The idea of this story is very interesting and intriguing but I found it difficult to "follow the bouncing plot." Had to put it down.
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jclark211 More than 1 year ago
Unfortunately, this wonderfully intriguing story turns rather lame, culminating with a disappointing and unnecessarily contrived ending. 
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a story from a fantastic young writer. Had me racing through pages and wanting more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book i have read for a while
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bibliotropic More than 1 year ago
The idea of living your life, then going back and doing it all over again, memories intact and being fully aware of the fact that you’re living it all over again… What would you change? What would you keep the same? What responsibility would you feel to society and to the world, preventing damage and creating gains, and is it really your right to decide? This is what Harry August experiences. Every time he dies, he is born again into the same life, still himself, still in the same circumstances forced on him by childhood, but always with the memories of his previous lives intact, always with the awareness that all of this has happened before. And because of these memories, his life is different each time. He’s able to use past knowledge to advance himself further, to skip past the tedium of a typical life that he has already lived in order to improve himself. Then he discovers the Cronus Club, a world-wide organization of people just like him, who are reborn time and time again with their memories intact, who live their lives over and over again and who have vowed, among other things, to not alter the course of history so drastically that the future becomes unrecognizable. The end of the world is coming. But now it’s coming faster than ever before. Someone has broken that rule. Claire North is an absolutely amazing writer, able to take small things and extrapolate the consequences and make a fantastic story out of them. Not only that, but the story forces you, by its very nature, to stop thinking in a linear fashion, A then B then C, and to contemplate cause and effect in a way that I don’t see done very often. Reading it twists your mind in interesting new directions, trying to keep track of timelines and relative perception and really, I need more books in my life that give my brain such a good workout, because it’s both entertaining and thought-provoking. For all that the premise for this book is relatively simple, it’s not a light read, and it’s worth taking the time to puzzle over and properly digest. But it’s also for that very reason that I see a lot of people talk about The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August just wasn’t to their taste. If you’re expecting a light read, you won’t get it. If you want something that’s just fluffy and straightforward, you won’t get it. If you want something that’s fast-paced and full of tension and good action, this isn’t the book you should be picking up. It’s one of those books that I highly recommend people look into reviews of first, because this isn’t the book for everyone, no matter how good it is. Whether you enjoy it is probably going to be based very much on what you expect when going into it. For my part, though, I loved it. The characters were beautifully real, flawed and selfish and diverse as anything! People like Harry, whether you call them ourobourans or kalachakra or non-linears, can occur anywhere, at any time, and thanks to memories of the future and the assets of the Cronus Club, they’re able to live comfortably wherever and whenever they are. So you’ll see the years of Harry’s life, from the early 1900s onward, in different countries, different regimes and governments, different ways of living and thinking, and it gives you a great perspective on world history, looking at the large from the viewpoint of the very small. It’s such an intelligent novel, well-researched and amazingly written, even if it’s a little bit dry at times. So, long story short, if you’re in the mood for thought-provoking smart novel that takes an interesting approach to history and perception, then get your hands on a copy of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August. It may not be the kind of novel that everyone will enjoy reading, but if you’re the right type, it will trip so many of the right triggers and be a very satisfying literary adventure.