The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

Book - 2014
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Forced to relive his life over and over again, Harry August receives a message on his eleventh death bed from a little girl who tells him that the world is about to end, and it is up to him to stop it.
Publisher: Little Brown & Co 2014
New York, NY : Redhook, 2014
Edition: First U.S. edition
ISBN: 9780316399616
0316399612
Branch Call Number: SF/FAN North
Characteristics: 405 pages ; 25 cm

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abi_lou
May 05, 2021

There is a lot of love about The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August. The first is the prose because, holy Picasso, Batman, this is a masterpiece. It is a sort of letter, obviously written to someone with its use of “you” and “us,” not that we know who the letter’s recipient is to be until the end. It is a sort of fictional autobiography: the story of Harry August’s 15 lives told from his perspective from his first birth to moments before his fifteenth death. These two storytelling methods are wonderfully blended together, and the language – the mixture of American and British and lord-knows-what-else slang – is magical in how perfectly it captures the characters. That’s the second thing to love: the characters. All the characters are so monumentally complex that they almost seem larger than life, and considering many of them live multiple lives, they become even more complex, and goodness, it’s amazing. A third thing to love is the plot: if the synopsis hasn’t intrigued you, then I don’t know what else to say that will. It sums up all that you need to know before you dive into this wonderfully magical world of science and religion and life. It is officially one of my favorite books, and I have no doubt it could be one of yours too.

t
trimtex88
Mar 01, 2021

I really enjoyed this book even though it was a bit confusing at times due to its quick pace and non linear format. I had the audio book version so I didn't have the luxury of going back to reread portions of the story that seemed a bit confusing. I will most likely reread or listen to the audio book again sometime in the future.

I really enjoy books that captivate me at the very beginning making it hard for me to want to put it down. This is a thoroughly enjoyable read. I was looking for books on time travel or alternate realities when i came across this one. I highly recommend this book.

By the way the Kendra Donovan Series by Julie McElwain is a good read for anyone interested in time travel stories.

s
SabrinaP77
Jan 26, 2021

This was an interesting read - it really made me think about the mechanics of time travel, parallel universes and the end of the world. The relationship between the antagonist and protagonist was interesting, the ending was satisfying.

SuJF Jan 10, 2021

I loved it, I hated it.
The concepts in the book are fascinating the way books writes them not so much. You are left with way to many questions and a slightly unfulfilled sensation.

ArapahoeJohanna Aug 05, 2020

Claire North is a master at turning a simple “what if” question into a rich, complex story that explores every facet of the foundational concept. In this book, that question is “what if some people lived their lives over and over again?” How would such a life affect a person? How would these people find each other; how would this affect history and the world at large; what kind of culture might exist among this population?

The result of this exploration is a tangled mass of timelines, centuries-long exercises in subterfuge, and an impending apocalypse that creeps inevitably closer with each cycle. Harry August is special even among his own kind, retaining a greater precision of memory across all of his life spans. As he comes to terms with his strange fate and learns the way of the Ouroboran, the people whose lives begin again at the end, he begins to see disturbing patterns emerging from one life to the next. Ouroboran go missing or lose their memories, technology progresses more quickly than it should, and the rumors from the distant future grow increasingly dire as something- or someone- continues to hasten the end of everything.

While I didn’t find Harry himself to be the most compelling character, I still spent much of this book on the edge of my seat. In many ways, this book is a deliciously drawn-out spy thriller set against the backdrop of the entire 20th century. It has all the intelligence and intrigue of a Robert Ludlum novel, but with a sci-fi twist that adds entirely new layers of complexity. I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys intricately plotted political thrillers and/or highly conceptual science fiction.

h
hollyharkener
Jun 16, 2020

Insane. Delicious. Bonkers and yet somehow believable. So good. Stupid good.

j
jbrenion
Sep 08, 2019

In addition to the Groundhog Day-esque loop the protagonist lives through, the story is told in achronic order (jumping between different loops rather than in sequential order.) As such, it can be a bit of a challenging read. I enjoyed it, but be warned that this book demands you pay attention to it.

g
Gryphinx
May 01, 2018

I couldn't get through this one. I think this could have been better and easier to follow if it was told sequentially. Instead, it jumps around and tells you a bit about his first life, then jumps to another life, and then jumps to another, and then back to one of his first few lives where, by that time, it's really easy to have forgotten the events of that particular life etc. I don't know if you just need a great memory or what to enjoy this. I think it had great potential, but I didn't find it well written or even especially interesting, which was a shame with such a promising concept.

j
JLMason
Nov 18, 2017

This is another intriguing story by Claire North (see also “Touch”) that involves retaining one's sense of identity and memory while changing the corporeal self, in this case through a time loop where one is reborn over and over again on the same date under the same circumstances. What an opportunity to explore different careers and learn new things, which the remarkably self-disciplined and intelligent protagonist sets out to do. But in a world where there are others like him born in throughout the ages, the temptation to alter history, redress personal grievance, or seek ultimate knowledge is great. This book is a delightfully imaginative and thought-provoking read; do you envy Harry August his time loop or find the concept of infinite personal reboot frightening or boring?

j
Jectoons
Jul 15, 2017

Well.
That was fantastic.
An energetic, intelligent and profound read, that deeply moved me in the end and that I thoroughly enjoyed. I don't think there's anything I didn't like about it; it does dabble in some complicated talk that is hard to follow at times, but other than that, it is a magnificent example of fiction and science fiction. Characters are enjoyable, plot is fascinating (very few times do I find myself enjoying a story so much I don't care where it takes me), writing is smart as hell. Thank you, Claire (Kate, Catherine) for Harry August. A thousand thanks. Through a hundred lives (and more).

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Jectoons
Jul 15, 2017

Jectoons thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

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