The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin
I have been waiting all year for a book that makes me think, feel and question everything and finally I have found it, this book guys, this damn book.
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
I put off reading this book for ages, even though I was sent a copy by the lovely people at NetGalley, because everyone and their cat was reading it and raving about it earlier in the year and if there is one thing I have learned, it is that reading a book that has been hyped always disappoints me. So I wanted to wait until all those reviews had faded from my memory. On the other hand, I’m super annoyed that I deprived myself of this fabulous story though, *shrugs*.
Anyway, this book, this book made me feel all the things and think about all the things.
Each of these siblings, who are all independent and have very different ideas on what they want to do, Varya and Daniel are focused on getting an education and stable jobs, Klara wants to be a magician somewhere far away from New York and Simon just wants to be free, somewhere he can be himself and find his own way rather than inheriting his dad’s shop by default. They visit a clairvoyant of sorts as young children and each are given a date for their death. The book then splits into four sections, each one following each sibling, with the others popping in and out, starting with Simon and ending with Varya. Thus begins the questions and the thoughts. Simon is told he’ll die at 20, so conscious of only having a few years to enjoy life, he runs away and throws himself into everything he can, sex, drugs, bohemian life style and all those other fun things. Then, just as predicted, to the day in fact, Simon dies. Did this happen because the woman they saw really could see the future or because he believed it and lived his life in a way that made it more likely?
His death hits the others hard, Klara in particular. When she too succumbs on the day predicted, Daniel takes over and joins forces with the FBI investigating the woman and then there is Varya…
Honestly, I was debating with myself throughout this whole book, is there such a thing as foresight, did this woman genuinely know when each of these people was going to die when she meets them as children or did she spot on a vulnerability and exploit it, knowing that the thought of approaching the day she gave them would make it more likely they would get into a situation that would lead to her being right. Did Simon die because he was always supposed to or because he was too reckless? Did Klara die becuase she couldn’t deal with the knowledge that Simon’s date was right or was she always supposed to? SO MANY QUESTIONS.
If you’re into books that make you think and feel, don’t be put off by the hype, get on it.
Just to further prove how much I loved this, here’s the Nick Fury Seal.