Updated: Apr 15
The Immortalist by Chloe Benjamin
This book has been on my 'to read' list for like the past 2 years! I think I may be the last person to read this super popular read. Everyone and their mother was posting about this book everywhere in the bookish community so I’m so glad I finally got to read this huge best seller. I’ve also always been in love with this book cover, so pretty! Especially because fall is my favorite season. Shout out to my local lib for this week’s read.
If you haven’t seen this book or heard of this book let me give you a little synopsis of the story, it’s pretty gripping. What if I told you that you would be able to find out the exact date of your death? Would it change the way you lived your life? Is it something that would bring you peace, or would you rather not know? These are the questions our characters deal with in this stellar book. The Immortalists follows four siblings, Daniel who is the oldest, Varya, Klara and Simon who is the youngest. Word spreads through their neighborhood in New York City’s Lower East side, that there is a mysterious travelling woman who claims to be able to tell you the date of when you will die. The Golds, who are all children at the time from ages seven to thirteen, hear of this mystical woman through word of mouth and venture out to find her and find out their fortunes. The prophecy shapes their adulthood and sends them all into completely different directions in their adult lives. Varya studies Biology and seeks a career as a researcher for ways to create a longer life through science and mortality. Daniel stays grounded with security and works as an army Doctor -post 9/11, Klara follows in her grandmother’s footsteps and pursues a glamorous and bold career as a travelling magician, and Simon finds himself in a buzzing and seductive 80s San Francisco away from everything he has always known. The story is told in four main parts, all highlighting the siblings’ journeys through their lives and the decisions they make knowing the prophecy is at the back of their minds. The Immortalists touches on mortality, grief, life choices and destiny, illusion and reality and family bonds.
I absolutely loved how this book was written, the way that Chloe Benjamin split up the stories of each sibling was genius. You can already tell by reading the synopsis on how the story will end, but the journey getting there is totally magical. Benjamin starts off with the earliest death and continues to the last at the end of the book. Each character plays a vital role in the family, although the siblings are not as close as they would have been if maybe they had not received their prophecies, they are still tied together through their mother and the events that take place in their lives. This books leaves you feeling a lot of emotions and makes you question your own life and choices. What if you actually knew the date of your death? Would you live your life differently? Would you make more risky choices? I think you 100% would. Knowing that mortality will come to an end at a specific date makes life feel like a ticking time bomb, I’m not sure if you would be happy, sometimes it’s nice to not think about death even though it’s inevitable. These were some of the issues that the Golds were dealing with throughout their stories.
This was an interesting, fascinating and gripping read. It’s one of those books that you would remember years later purely based on the story itself. I was very much engaged from the beginning of the book right through till the end because I honestly wanted to find out what happens to each sibling. For me, I actually found the first three parts of the book to be more gripping, especially Simon and Klara’s stories. They were really raw and magical to read, but a part of me sort of lost interest a tiny bit towards the end. That’s not to say that I didn’t love the book! I honestly thought that it was one of the coolest stories I have read in a while. Klara’s story was my favorite. She was an incredibly interesting and vulnerable character, and very believable, I feel like there are a lot of Klara’s out there in the world so I appreciated Benjamin’s portrayal of her. The Immortalists was not exactly a light read, it was more gripping and blunt, some parts were quite powerful and some a little uncomfortable, but all in all, this book as reached the expectations that it carries. I also love the book cover and the symbolization of the tree of life and familial bonds. I think that’s what it means to me anyways!
This was a powerful read, gripping, raw and heartbreaking. I would definitely recommend The Immortalists to anyone wanting an interesting read. It would be great too for book clubs, and discussions. There’s loads to talk about after reading it. I found myself thinking about the story a lot while in between reading it, which is always a good sign. I also liked that it highlighted San Francisco in the 80s, Chloe Benjamin captured the vibes of that era very well, and the issues that arose with that decade. It’ll be hard to forget this wonderful novel. Read it people! It's a gorgeous book.
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction
To purchase on Book Depository, CLICK HERE
Reviewed by Chrissy's Books
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