The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August PDF: A Novel of Time Travel and Reincarnation
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August: A Book Review
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live your life over and over again, remembering everything from your previous lives? That is the premise of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, a novel by Claire North that explores the consequences of being immortal in a changing world. In this book review, I will tell you what the book is about, who the author is, why you should read it, and what I liked and disliked about it. I will also answer some frequently asked questions about the book at the end.
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What is the book about?
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is a science fiction novel that tells the story of Harry, who is born in a public bathroom at a train station in north east England in the early 1900s. Harry retains his memories from each of his previous 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.
Harry is not alone in his condition. He belongs to a rare species of humans called the kalachakra, or ouroborans, who live their lives in cycles, returning to their original point of birth every time they die. They can communicate with each other across time through messages left by their past or future selves, or through a secret society called the Cronus Club, which helps them adjust to their new lives and protect their secrets from the rest of the world.
However, Harry's peaceful existence is disrupted when he receives a message on his eleventh deathbed from a little girl who tells him that the world is ending, and that it is up to him to stop it. Someone is meddling with the natural order of time, causing cataclysmic events to happen sooner than they should. Harry must find out who is behind this threat, and how to stop them, before it is too late.
Who is the author?
Claire North is a pseudonym of British author Catherine Webb, who has also written under the names Kate Griffin and Catherine R. Wells. She published her first novel, Mirror Dreams, when she was only 14 years old, and has since written more than 20 books in various genres, including fantasy, horror, thriller, and young adult fiction. She won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel for The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, and was also nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. She has also received critical acclaim for her other novels, such as The Sudden Appearance of Hope, The End of the Day, and 84K.
Why should you read it?
You should read The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August if you are looking for a gripping and original story that combines science fiction, historical fiction, and philosophical questions. The book will keep you hooked with its fast-paced plot, intriguing characters, witty dialogue, and clever twists. It will also make you think about the nature of time, free will, life, death, friendship, and love. It will also entertain you with its humor, adventure, and suspense. It is a book that you will not want to put down, and that you will remember for a long time.
The plot summary
In this section, I will give you a brief overview of the main events that happen in the book, without spoiling too much of the surprises. If you want to avoid any spoilers, you can skip this section and go directly to the next one.
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Harry's first life and rebirth
Harry is born in 1919 as the illegitimate son of a maid and a wealthy aristocrat. He grows up in a poor and abusive household, and runs away from home when he is 16. He joins the army and fights in World War II, where he is captured by the Nazis and tortured in a concentration camp. He dies in 1989, after living a lonely and miserable life.
However, instead of going to heaven or hell, Harry wakes up again in the same bathroom where he was born, with all his memories intact. He realizes that he is living his life again, and that he can change some of his choices and actions. He decides to make the most of his second chance, and tries to live a better life.
Harry's discovery of the Cronus Club and the kalachakra
In his second life, Harry meets a man named Rory, who claims to be like him: a kalachakra, or someone who lives their lives in cycles. Rory introduces Harry to the Cronus Club, a secret organization of kalachakra who help each other adapt to their new lives and keep their existence hidden from the rest of the world. Harry learns that there are rules and ethics that govern the kalachakra, such as not interfering with history or using their knowledge for personal gain. He also learns that there are different types of kalachakra, such as linears (who live only one life), mnemonics (who remember everything from their previous lives), ouroborans (who live their lives in loops), and anachronisms (who are born out of sync with their original timeline).
Harry becomes a member of the Cronus Club, and uses his skills and knowledge to help other kalachakra in need. He also meets other interesting characters, such as Ruby (a female kalachakra who becomes his lover), Victor (a Russian kalachakra who becomes his friend), and Vincent Rankis (a charismatic and ambitious kalachakra who becomes his rival).
Harry's friendship and rivalry with Vincent Rankis
Harry and Vincent have a complicated relationship throughout their lives. They first meet in Harry's third life, when Vincent saves Harry from being killed by a rogue kalachakra named Hendricks. Vincent is a brilliant scientist and inventor, who is fascinated by the nature of time and the possibilities of changing it. He invites Harry to join him in his experiments, but Harry declines, sensing that Vincent is reckless and dangerous.
In Harry's fourth life, Vincent reveals that he has built a device called the quantum mirror, which allows him to communicate with his past self and alter the course of history. He claims that he is doing this for the greater good of humanity, but Harry disagrees, arguing that Vincent is playing God and risking the stability of time. They have a heated argument, which ends with Vincent shooting Harry in the head.
In Harry's fifth life, Harry discovers that Vincent has changed history by preventing World War II from happening. However, this has also caused other negative consequences, such as nuclear war in Asia, famine in Africa, and environmental disasters around the world. Harry confronts Vincent again, but Vincent escapes through his quantum mirror.
In Harry's sixth life, Harry decides to stop Vincent once and for all. He teams up with Victor and Ruby, who have also noticed the changes in history caused by Vincent. They track down Vincent's location and destroy his quantum mirror, but not before Vincent sends a message to his past self warning him about Harry's interference.
Harry's mission to save the world from the end
In Harry's seventh life, Harry receives a message on his deathbed from a little girl named Alice Lisle. She tells him that she is a kalachakra from the future, and that she has come back in time to warn him about the end of the world. She says that someone is accelerating the rate of technological progress and causing irreversible damage to the planet. She says that this person is Vincent Rankis, who has gone mad with power and has become obsessed with creating a new world order. She says that Harry is the only one who can stop him, because he is the only one who can remember everything from his previous lives. She begs him to find her in his next life, and to help her save the world.
Harry is shocked and confused by this message, but he decides to follow Alice's instructions. In his eighth life, he meets Alice at a Cronus Club meeting, where she tells him more about the situation. She says that Vincent has created a secret network of kalachakra who share his vision of a new world order, and that they are using their quantum mirrors to manipulate history and technology. She says that they are also hunting down and killing any kalachakra who oppose them, including Harry and Alice. She says that they have to stop Vincent before he reaches his final goal: to create a singularity, a point in time where the laws of physics break down and anything is possible.
Harry agrees to help Alice, and they embark on a dangerous mission across time and space. They have to evade Vincent's agents, who are constantly trying to kill them or erase them from existence. They have to gather allies and resources from different eras and locations, such as ancient China, medieval Europe, modern America, and futuristic Japan. They have to infiltrate Vincent's headquarters and sabotage his plans. And they have to face Vincent himself, who is willing to do anything to achieve his dream of a new world order.
The themes and messages
In this section, I will discuss some of the main themes and messages that the book conveys, and how they relate to the characters and the plot. The book explores many complex and profound topics, such as:
The nature of time and free will
The book challenges the conventional notions of time and free will, by presenting a scenario where some people can live their lives repeatedly and change the course of history. The book raises questions such as: What is time? Is it linear or circular? Is it fixed or flexible? Can it be altered or reversed? How does time affect our identity and memory? How does time affect our choices and actions? Do we have free will or are we bound by fate? How do our decisions affect ourselves and others? How do we deal with the consequences of our actions?
The book shows how different characters have different views and attitudes towards time and free will. For example, Harry believes that time is sacred and should not be tampered with, and that he has a moral responsibility to use his free will for good. He respects the natural order of things, and tries to preserve the balance of history. On the other hand, Vincent believes that time is a tool and a resource that can be exploited and manipulated, and that he has a right to use his free will for his own benefit. He disregards the natural order of things, and tries to create his own version of history.
The meaning of life and death
The book also explores the meaning of life and death, by presenting a scenario where some people can live forever and never die. The book raises questions such as: What is life? What is death? What is the purpose of living? What is the value of dying? How does immortality affect our sense of self and our relationships with others? How does mortality affect our appreciation of life and our fear of death? How do we cope with loss and grief? How do we find happiness and fulfillment in our lives?
The book shows how different characters have different reactions and responses to life and death. For example, Harry finds life meaningful and precious, even though he has lived it many times. He cherishes every moment he has, and tries to make a positive difference in the world. He also accepts death as a natural part of life, and does not fear it or avoid it. On the other hand, Vincent finds life boring and meaningless, even though he has lived it only once. He despises every moment he has, and tries to escape from reality. He also rejects death as an unacceptable limitation of life, and does everything he can to prevent it or overcome it.
The power of friendship and love
The book also celebrates the power of friendship and love, by presenting a scenario where some people can form bonds that transcend time and space. The book raises questions such as: What is friendship? What is love? How do we make and maintain friends and lovers? How do we express and receive affection and support? How do we deal with conflict and betrayal? How do we cope with separation and reunion? How do we balance our individual needs and desires with our social obligations and expectations?
The book shows how different characters have different experiences and expressions of friendship and love. For example, Harry finds friendship and love in his fellow kalachakra, especially Alice, Ruby, and Victor. He values their companionship and loyalty, and shares his joys and sorrows with them. He also respects their differences and autonomy, and does not impose his will or opinions on them. On the other hand, Vincent finds friendship and love in his own ego, especially his past and future selves. He isolates himself from others, and trusts only himself. He also manipulates and exploits others, and does not care about their feelings or well-being.
The writing style and tone
In this section, I will comment on the writing style and tone of the book, and how they enhance the reading experience. The book has a distinctive and engaging style and tone, such as:
The use of multiple perspectives and timelines
The book is written in the first-person point of view, but switches between different versions of Harry from different lives and times. This creates a dynamic and immersive narrative, as the reader gets to see the world through Harry's eyes in various situations and contexts. It also creates a complex and layered plot, as the reader gets to see how Harry's actions and choices affect his past, present, and future selves.
The blend of science fiction and historical fiction
The book combines elements of science fiction and historical fiction, creating a rich and diverse setting for the story. The book incorporates scientific concepts such as quantum physics, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and nanotechnology, as well as historical events such as World War II, the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, the Chernobyl Disaster, and the 9/11 Attacks. The book also features fictional inventions such as the quantum mirror, the chronoscope, the neural lace, and the singularity device.
The conversational and humorous voice
The book has a conversational and humorous voice, which makes the story more relatable and enjoyable. The book uses informal language, slang, idioms, metaphors, similes, jokes, sarcasm, irony, hyperbole, and other rhetorical devices to create a lively and humorous tone. The book also uses direct address, rhetorical questions, and breaking the fourth wall to create a conversational and interactive tone. The book also uses irony, paradox, and contrast to create a humorous and witty tone.
The strengths and weaknesses of the book
In this section, I will summarize the strengths and weaknesses of the book, and how they affect my overall impression of it. The book has many strengths, such as:
The original and intriguing premise of living multiple lives and changing history.
The fast-paced and suspenseful plot that keeps the reader hooked and curious.
The complex and realistic characters that have depth and development.
The profound and thought-provoking themes and messages that challenge the reader's assumptions and perspectives.
The distinctive and engaging writing style and tone that make the story relatable and enjoyable.
The book also has some weaknesses, such as:
The confusing and complicated timeline that can be hard to follow and keep track of.
The excessive and unnecessary details that can be boring and distracting.
The repetitive and predictable scenarios that can be dull and monotonous.
The unrealistic and implausible events that can be unbelievable and absurd.
The unsatisfying and ambiguous ending that can be frustrating and disappointing.
The final verdict and rating
In conclusion, I think that The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is a brilliant and captivating book that deserves to be read by anyone who enjoys science fiction, historical fiction, or philosophical fiction. It is a book that will make you think, feel, laugh, cry, and wonder. It is a book that will stay with you long after you finish it. It is a book that I highly recommend.
I would give this book a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars, based on the following criteria:
Criteria Rating --- --- Originality