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The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by [North, Claire]
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The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 748 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Harry August isn’t human. Well, that’s not quite accurate. He is human but a different sort of human from the rest of us: he was born (in the ladies’ washroom of a train station in England in 1919), he lives a certain number of years, and he dies—and then he’s born again, right back where he started, and a handful of years later his memories of his first life return. Harry is, like a few others, a kalachakra, an immortal who is constantly reborn, each time with all the memories of his previous lives. This wonderful novel, narrated by Harry, ranges back and forth in time as he recounts episodes from his various lives, but it’s all held together by a compelling mystery involving nothing less than the end of the world itself (a thousand years in the future). Beautifully written and structured, the book should be a big hit with SF fans. The pseudonymous author’s name is being kept secret, but fans of SF and fantasy authors China Mieville, Christopher Priest, and Adam Roberts might note a stylistic similarity, especially in the novel’s elegant prose. Whoever Claire North turns out to be, he or she has written a remarkable book. --David Pitt

Review

Utterly readable, utterly believable and compelling ... one of the fiction highlights of the decade Judy Finnigan, Richard and Judy Book Club Beautiful and gripping GUARDIAN The writing is impeccable . . Plus Harry is a fascinating main character ... And if his next 15 lives are half as eventful, we look forward to the sequel HEAT A masterful literary thriller io9 An astonishing re-invention of the time-travel narrative. Bold, magical and masterful M. R. Carey, author of THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS 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, bestselling author of THE MAZE RUNNER Gripping SUN This wonderful novel, narrated by Harry, ranges back and forth in time as he recounts episodes from his various lives, but it's all held together by a compelling mystery involving nothing less than the end of the world itself ... Beautifully written and structured ... a remarkable book BOOKLIST North builds her clever conceit into an emotionally satisfying novel NEW SCIENTIST Every bit as good as its title. (And, to avoid ambiguity, I love the title.) WEEKEND HERALD Grabs you from the first page; it crackles along at a rollicking pace ... unputdownable THE SATURDAY PAPER A truly extraordinary novel: an impeccable portrait of a friendship tortured by time in which masterful character and fantastic narrative come together to tremendous effect TOR.COM Terrific, smart and entertaining Patrick Ness Claire North's sophisticated writing and astute plotting have made this my book of the year Peter F. Hamilton 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 Jared Shurin A brave, genre-defying novel, which is mind-blowing in its originality and bold concept ... Stunning! NOVELICIOUS Part unique and intriguing mystery, part philosophical look at life, memory and time travel this story kept me totally gripped from the opening words to the mind-blowing finale BITE THE BOOK The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is an extraordinary novel, as the publicity has promised THE SPECULATIVE SCOTSMAN An extraordinary book ... an impressive piece of work. Upcoming4me

Product Details

  • File Size: 1499 KB
  • Print Length: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Redhook (April 8, 2014)
  • Publication Date: April 8, 2014
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00ECE9OD4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,356 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
(This is a spoiler-free review of an advance reading copy provided by the publisher.)

"The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August" by Claire North is a fascinating mix of "Groundhog Day" and "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" with some time travel thrown in for good measure.

The protagonist, Harry August, is one of the rare people who are unable to truly die: as soon as their body dies, their life starts over with the same parents, the same childhood, the same world - except this time they have a lifetime (or 15 lifetimes) of knowledge and experience to draw back on. As Harry August dies for the 11th time, a little girl warns him about the impending end of the world...

The novel is beautifully crafted: the author not only came up with a fascinating concept that's very rarely seen in science fiction, but developed it and fleshed it out to such an extent that the book's universe seems quite believable. We get glimpses of other immortals (or ouroborans, as they call themselves) and the many, many different ways they spend their endless lives. We get cautionary tales of what can happen if somebody tries introducing advanced technology centuries before its time. (Alternate history fans will love that part.) We see the best and the worst that strange immortality brings out in regular people - and how they deal with it.

The person writing under the pseudonym of Claire North, whoever he or she truly is, did a marvelous job when researching the book: as a Russian immigrant, I can attest that the chapters that take place in the USSR are absolutely believable, which isn't something I can say about a lot of books that pick exotic locales just for the fun of it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
...it makes for a captivating, fascinating and thrilling read.

Harry August didn't have the best of starts in life. He was born in 1918, the bastard child of a British aristocratic family as a result when his mother - a serving girl to the family - was raped by the family scion. Then his mother died in childbirth and he was given to the family's gardener and his wife to raise. His life was commonplace and unremarkable, and his options were limited. Then, as an old man, he died, and discovered that he was a "kalachakra," one of the rare - 1 in 500,000 births - who will relive their lives over and over again.

We see Harry live his first 15 years, as he goes through the learning curve of live as a kalachakra, taking only his knowledge and experience with him from life to life, trying out new approaches to life - a major one is simply surviving World War II - and gaining more experience. After, he discovers the "Chronus Club," things become easier; the Chronus Club exists to allow other kalachakra give their younger kith a hand up, mostly by taking them out of an extended repeat of childhood and adolescence, which must be truly unbearable.

It's a good life, but there are rules. The first rule is to never let anyone know your "point of origin." Abort a kalachakra in the womb and they never exist, ever. The second rule is that the memory of a kalachakra can be wiped clean, and if it is, the kalachakra starts his next life as if it was his first life. The third rule is to never make big changes in history.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This superlative novel explores the meaning of time, friendship, and personal fate with the use of a marvelous premise. In an ingenuous variation on reincarnation, Harry is reborn in life after life as himself. The start of each of his lives is identical to the his first. Innocent of this fact as an infant, Harry grows into his realization year by year until, at the age of seven, he is fully aware of his prior lives. In his second life, he becomes mad and kills himself in despair. But as the cycle continues, he adjust more and more to his fate. He grows to understand how to use his knowledge from the previous life to allow him leisure to explore the possibilities in his life.

The premise is used to perfection by this mystery author who has used this pseudonym. The thought of encountering past failed loves and challenges to infinity is definitely daunting. Harry learns he is an Ouroboran, one of a community of people around the world born into this condition. Many belong to the Cronos Club who endeavor to save young members the tedium of having to live the hostage fate of adolescence without power to affect their own lives. In addition, the issue arises as to how much to effect their worlds. Here we encounter the problem of time travel, how much dare you change the world without fatal intrusion?

Much of this book concerns his efforts to enrich the fate he has been dealt. He is part of the minority who remembers everything. Knowing he will be reborn, he takes risks for knowledge, and well, for thrills. He learns fine arts, military process, the span of his years from different perspectives. He falls in love and is able to consider a future reenactment. The possibilities immediately enmesh the reader .

Another central premise is that of quantum theory.
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