Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Author: Chloe Benjamin
Release: January 9th 2018
Warnings: Suicide, graphic content, animal injury
I received a copy of The Immortalists from Bookish in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Would you live your life any differently if you knew when you were going to die? That’s the question The Immortalists wants us to ask ourselves; the question explored by the four main characters of this novel. The Gold siblings all had their fortunes told; specifically they were told which day they were going to die. They were not told how, and they were not required to share what they learned with their siblings.
If I was forced to try and sort this book into a specific genre, I think I would struggle with it. It’s different and totally unique. The closest category I can think of is fiction, but that doesn’t really cover it either. It doesn’t imply towards everything in this novel. If you’re looking for a read where you’ll truly connect with the characters, a read where you’ll feel for the characters, then this is probably a good pick for you.
Warnings first: So this probably goes without saying, but a story that explores the concept of how we live our lives before we die obviously also covers the death part of it. Two of the deaths are more graphic than the others (and no, I won’t say who dies or how many deaths there are in total). One sibling dies from a horrible disease, and the other from suicide. They’re pretty heart wrenching, to say the least. There is an animal that injures itself later in the book, which is pretty upsetting to read about. I want to make it very clear that she does live though, as that was something I was very very worried about when I was reading it (ironic, I know).
I’m not really sure what I was expecting when I started reading The Immortalists. But I can say for certain I got more than I was expecting. Going into this novel, I knew the basic concept; that four siblings were told when they were supposedly going to die. Beyond that I didn’t really know that much. Was the fortune teller correct? Did they even believe her? Did their belief shape how they lived their lives, and thus how/when they died? That was all waiting for me to learn.
The novel is more or less split into four even portions, with a quarter going to each of the four siblings. Simon and Klara’s stories are told first, followed by Daniel and Varya’s. It was fascinating to see how different each of the Gold children were, and how much that divide grew as they got older. Because of how different each child is, I think that there’s a good chance each reader will find a particular character they can really connect to.
Despite all the questions raised throughout the course of this book, there really aren’t any concrete answers delivered. I feel like we were allowed to form our own opinions and theories about everything, something I greatly appreciated.
I’m not going to lie and say that you’ll be smiling the whole way through this novel – you will cry. Or at least, I did. Chloe Benjamin did a wonderful job getting the reader to care about each of the characters (even when I felt myself unwilling to, as I was afraid to get attached to any of them, when I didn’t know who would live or die). It’s understandable that because of this connection between the characters and the reader that you will find yourself getting upset for them or feeling their loss very keenly when the time comes.
This book was outstandingly written, and I found myself even more impressed upon learning that this was Chloe Benjamin’s first novel. I never would have guessed that. I fully intend to keep an eye on her works, even if there’s a chance that she’ll make me cry again.