The Imortalists #BookReview

Chloe Benjamin | pub: Jan 2018 | 346 pp

Summary: If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?

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.

The 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; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

A sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next. It is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds.

Soooo, this was a bop! Lol. As a lover of Blake Crouch stories, where he explores traveling across different times, blurring the lines between past, future and present, this book caught my interest right away. The idea is, if you know what the future is, what would you do? Could you change it or avoid the truth or fate you believe in someway?

One day, 4 siblings, tweens/teens/or nearly so, Simon, Klara, Daniel and Varya, living in Lower East Side of NY, visit a traveling psychic. Rumors had been spreading that she could tell you the date of your death. I can understand how this could attract a group of young kids, so this makes sense. The level of drama and scariness the author added to the event, seemed like a bit of a red herring to me. No way a bunch of inner city kids would be that afraid of a random rundown walk up or back alley. 🙄 They arrive and the mean woman says they can only enter the apartment 2 at a time. I think the group runs off without paying her which lends to the drama. Later, the kids lose their dad and each go off on their separate journeys. Visiting the psychic and what she shares with each of them, turns out to be very pivotal in each of their lives, though none of them ever speak of what they hear that day.

Pros: In the beginning, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t like any of the siblings but, I wound up enjoying each of their stories. The writing was colorful and descriptive, allowing me to picture the color and texture of each location of the sibling as well as their angst and anxiety about life and one another. I enjoyed the different places that worked as a back drop to the story – gay San Francisco in the 80’s, Las Vegas show scene, New York, LA…all added texture to the story. I also loved that the author incorporated whatever was going on in those places at the time into the story. For example, in 80 – 90’s San Fran, she thread the AIDS epidemic into the story, rather than pretend it wasn’t happening. Extra star from me.

Cons: The story itself evolves as we watch the life trajectory of each sibling. Admittedly, it got a little draggy at parts, probably because I could relate to some stories more than others. Most of this occurs in early chapters as we meet the children, learn how they grew up and what lead up to the psychic. It was almost as if the author wanted to play down the significance of the visit. Either way, none of that part of the story really got used later, so it could have been axed – Like, lets skip to the good part.

To be fair, earlier chapters give us insight into family dynamics and each siblings ‘place’. The boy that feels its his God given right to go back to school and complete college, no matter if mom is falling apart after dad’s death, someone else can manage that right? Or the sister that has to nearly sneak away from mom, because she leans on her so much. Sounds super toxic but, I bet folks will relate to those type of familial relations, as I did.

Its not a spoiler to say they all eventually die. I think its the how, why and when that becomes the story. Are they actively avoiding what the psychic told them or are they spiraling directly to it? In my opinion the later – but you let me know what you think!

Overall, really good read and a bit of a sleeper on my TBR. I had attempted to read this a year or so before but, put it down after about 50 pages. I’m a mood reader though and the second time was the charm. Im glad I plowed through! Definitely a good read that encourages some healthy conversations about fate and what we intend for our lives. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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