Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Review: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Title: The Immortalists
Author: Chloe Benjamin
Published: January 2018, G.P. Putnam's Sons
Format: ARC Paperback, 352 pages
Source: Publisher

If you were told the date of your death, how would it shape your present?

It's 1969 in New York City's Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

Their prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in '80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11, hoping to control fate; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

My thoughts: This is the last of the four books I had picked up at the Adult Editor's Buzz Session at BookExpo last Spring and I just knew it was a book I wanted to read. And let me tell you - I loved it. It's definitely not the type of book I typically gravitate towards, but the premise just called to me...and sometimes that's all you need!

This book is probably one that not everyone is going to like, but it is one that is going to make you think, if you do decide to read it. I was so intrigued by the premise that I just had to read it: If you knew the date of your death, would it shape your life? First of all, that just gets your mind going to your own life, but then to see how this clever author crafted a tale about four siblings and how finding out what their date of death would be would affect their lives - I was all in!

I loved the way this story is constructed. It follows each of the siblings as it leads up to their "pre-determined" date of death, according to the fortune teller. Has this really been set in the stars or do they lead a self-fulfilling prophecy? No one can really answer that, but I tell you, Chloe Benjamin sure can spin a story that makes you wonder. Does knowing the date you might die lead you to live life to the fullest or do you live life with dread? These were the thoughts running through my mind as I read this book.

The characters in this book are so vividly drawn that it will be hard to forget any of them anytime soon. These characters come alive on the page. I also loved the connection between the siblings that seem to grow stronger over time. Even though they might not be as close as they want, the love they have for each other is incredibly strong and that is quite evident as the story progresses.

This is an addictive read that will certainly make an impression on you. It does tackle some difficult subjects along the way, but at the same time, the lyrical way that the story is written, the descriptive imagery we get as the story is told - it all comes together to tell this wonderful story that really does have you thinking about life itself. This book really would make a good book club book - it is chock full of discussion points, but it also is just a good read. 

I am so glad that I decided to pick this one up. Sometimes it's good to step outside your comfort zone - you never know what you are missing if you don't! I will definitely be keeping an eye out for what comes next from this author...she really can tell quite a story!



  1. I'm planning on trying this one. Have been hearing good things about it mostly. It's something to think about - would you live life more fully or would you dread? I'm afraid I might dread, but who knows. :-)

  2. I think I want to read this one even though every time I read a review or just the blurb I feel anxious. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it.


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