The Immortalists Face the Truths of Mortality

“‘I suppose I think we need God for the same reason we need art.’ ‘Because it’s nice to look at?’ ‘No.’ Mira smiled. ‘Because it shows us what’s possible.’”

The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin

My Rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

In Summary of The Immortalists

Would you tell anyone the date you are supposed to die if given the chance to know? Would it impact how you live your life until that day comes? These are questions that four siblings – Varya, Daniel, Klara, and Simon – are faced with throughout their lives after they seek out a prophecy from a psychic. This novel shifts its focus between each sibling as they live and pass away over the span of five decades starting in 1969. We watch the decisions that each sibling makes, their connections between each other, and the impact of their life and death on each other to comment on the deeper meanings of life and death. 

Warning: Topics of death, suicide, and homophobia; Not recommended for young readers: Graphic scenes and moments of crude language present

PositivesNegatives
Writing is easy to read and understandA few of the main characters are more deeply connected to the reader than the others
Rich plot that allows for reader connection to charactersSometimes slow
Chunking each character’s life makes it easy to transition between each oneNot all aspects of each character’s journey are believable

“Most adults claim not to believe in magic, but Klara knows better. Why else would anyone play at permanence — fall in love, have children, buy a house—in the face of all evidence there’s no such thing?”

The Review

Chloe Benjamin’s The Immortalists makes readers truly consider if life is about destiny, choice, or maybe a mix of the two. What truly is the meaning of a well-lived life? How does someone find dignity in death, and how does one cope well? Each character – like each of their destinies – is dramatically different from their siblings; Simon is a gay man struggling with identity, Klara is a magician, Daniel an army doctor, and Varya a scientist. The paths that they take in life are all heartbreaking and raw in their own ways. 

Both the beauty – and the curse – of a multiple-character novel is that there are always characters that are more likable than others. The beauty: There will hopefully be at least one character that you connect with. The curse? The chapters for the characters you don’t like aren’t enjoyable to read… and sometimes these characters are just downright annoying. 

The fortune teller’s glimpse at their death dates is an intriguing concept and one that ties them all together. However, I wish there were more connection between all four of them. I understand that the point is to show how they become disconnected over time and experience, but it truly made me sad as a reader to see how far they diverge! 

Additionally, some of their fates are more believable than others (I do not want to give any spoilers, so I will let you determine how you feel about each of their paths on your own). Two of the siblings’ stories dragged for me, while the other two I took greater interest in. All have a tragic end, but not all evoked sympathy from me.

If you are someone that doesn’t enjoy knowing how a situation will end from the beginning (very Romeo-and-Juliet-esque), then the structure and premise of this novel may bother you and feel rather boring. I am someone who enjoys learning the why and how along the way, so this didn’t bother me. I was here for the journey.

Be forewarned, though – If you are easily triggered by depressing and traumatic topics, this may not be your book. I actually had to set this book down for almost two months because of deaths happening within my own family. The whole book is based around contemplating, expecting, and coping with mortality; I needed the break from such a heavy book during this period.

Overall, this book made me feel lots of feelings. Hard. If you pick up this book, get ready for a rollercoaster ride!

The Immortalists Book Information

  • Published: 2018
  • ISBN:  9780062997548
  • Format: Paperback
  • Length: 343 pages

Learn About & Support the Author – Chloe Benjamin

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