The Immortalists

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 09 Jan 2018

Member Reviews

compelling original family saga with whip smart concept and emotionally complex characters and original plot
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Fabulous writing, captivating storyline.......but left me horribly depressed. I know I was in the wrong mindspace for this book, but it didn't prevent me from appreciating Benjamin's writing talent. However, an entire book about dying and thinking about dying and a tiny segment about animal testing just let me depleted and down. Highly recommended for those what are in an upbeat and non-existential-crisis phase of life.
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Fantastic premise and entirely relatable characters!  Fate and future thought guide characters to confront facts and fiction in their lives.  Employing suspense keeps the pages moving and the intricacy with which Benjamin develops family relationships is remarkable.  This is definitely one for the era and I can see why free flowing millennials are holding this book up as their favorite.
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Three siblings decide to use their allowances to consult a "fortune teller" to find out the date of their deaths.  Two are told that they will die young; one will have a very long life.  This book follows the three and it really raises the question of what you yourself would do if you knew when you were going to die.  Each character is fully drawn with careful insight and you feel close to them; it's a terrific book and one of our book groups selected it for the end of the year read.
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The Immortalists has me a bit torn. The story is beautiful and haunting at the same time, but I simply didn't expect the type of story that I got from the synopsis I read. The story focuses more on the lives of the siblings than the ticking time bomb in the room. I did enjoy it, but it's certainly not a book one flies through with unbridled anticipation. I would say it's a 3-3.5 out of 5 stars for me.
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If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?

So asks the tagline of Chloe Benjamin's novel The Immortalists. Simon, Klara, Varya, and Daniel are just children in 1969 when they learn of a fortune teller who can give a person the day they will die. The curious thing about knowledge is that you can't unknow something you wish you didn't know. And yet no one can avoid the end of their life no matter how near or far it might be. Simon runs to the opposite side of the country in search of a better life, or to at least live the one he has a full speed while he can. Klara is determined to pursue her dreams regardless of their feasibility. Daniel tries to forget what he knows, but denial can only last so long, and Varya makes her life's work about prolonging life itself.

Filled with complicated characters that make decisions for very complicated reasons, I found this book interesting and compelling, but I really wanted to like it more than I did. It was an excellent concept, but the execution (no pun intended, really) didn't quite achieve what I think the author intended. I was often frustrated with the actions of the characters. Certainly no character ever behaves in exactly the way every reader would like, but their behaviors were so determined toward self-fulfilling prophecy that I wanted to scream at them, and not in that satisfying, "these characters are crazy but I still love them" kind of way. Only one of the deaths we see am I able to view with understanding and compassion. The others just made me angry.

And yet, I couldn't put the book down. I am sure that says more than my final opinion of the book. Or if not more, certainly quite a lot. Maybe you will enjoy it more than I did.

Oh! And before I forget, there was quite a lot of what I found to be unnecessary graphic descriptions of intimacy. I am always going to be a "fade to black" kind of girl. I just find that more romantic and I never like to read anything explicit and when I encountered that in this book I almost didn't continue reading. I only finished because it was for an online book club with which I haven't been the best about reading. Luckily it was a short-lived section that didn't repeat further in the book, but I feel obligated to put that warning out to you.
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The Immortalists has been on many must-read lists this year and I was absolutely engrossed in this incredible book, told from four sibling’s perspectives.

The premise of this book is that the four children visit a fortune-teller who is able to tell them the exact date of their death. Each sibling keeps this information a secret from one another and the story explores how knowing when you will die (young or old) impacts your decision-making. Do you engage in risky behaviors because you know you know when you will die anyway? How does knowing your final date shape your own patterns of behavior?

The book is broken into four sections following each of their lives and how they live them with this forecasted information. Each of the characters was so well-written that I found myself escaping into each story easily.

I, honestly, couldn’t put this one down. I highly recommend it for yourself or to share with your book club!
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This one was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I loved the initial chapter setting up the premise of the "cursed siblings" but found that I enjoyed some of their stories more than others. And there were a few things that just felt a little off to me, like the author's insistence on introducing 13 year old Varya with "the dark patch of fur between her legs" and swiftly moving on to the next chapter being all about a random hook-up...it just seemed really forced and unnecessary to me.
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The concept is intriguing, irresistible – if you knew the date of your date, how would that affect the rest of your life? Would you live it with no fear, doing everything you ever wanted to do, or would it be like a sword constantly hanging over your head, limiting your every move? 
That’s the premise of this fascinating novel, and it makes for an equally fascinating read. 
The story is centred on four siblings, the Gold children, who visit a psychic in 1969, who predicts when each will die. They tell no one of the date that is each revealed to each, including among themselves. But the date clearly informs how each live their lives into adulthood, and we follow them through their separate, sometimes strange journeys in sections that deal with each sibling separately. 
 There’s the shy bookish Varya, gay Simon who finds love and acceptance in 1980s San Francisco, Klara who becomes a musician, and Daniel who becomes a doctor. Both Simon and Klara’s sories were particularly vivid, fantastical and well imagined, and I enjoyed these sections. Less space is given to the stories of Daniel and then Varya. It is also a story of immigration – and how that has affected the trajectory of their parents’ lives. Is it really possible to predict the future – and is that future bound up in character only? The fortunte teller says early on, “Your character. Ever heard of Heraclitus?” 
Varya shakes her head. 
“Greek philosopher. Character is fate— that’s what he said. They’re bound up, those two, like brothers and sisters. You wanna know the future?” She points at Varya with her free hand. “Look in the mirror.”
And if you think you know the date you’ll die, do you unconsciously make that future happen? “But Varya and her siblings had choices, and the luxury of self-examination. They wanted to measure time, to plot and control it. In their pursuit of the future, though, they only drew closer to the fortune teller’s prophecies.” 
At times the novel reads like a mystery as we follow the siblings into their lives – and their futures are revealed to us. A compelling, interesting read – which throws up a few questions about fate, and pre-destiny along the way.
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An interesting novel about a family who all discover their death dates from a psychic as teenagers, and how this information affects them and their lives. A compelling read.
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The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin introduces a compelling question: would you want to know when you will die? And how might that knowledge impact you choices and the way in which you live your life? I loved the concept, and I also loved how Benjamin examines it through the narrative of each sibling's life experiences as the navigate life after learning the date of their death when they were children. I especially liked Simon's story in the beginning of the book, but really, I enjoyed the book in general. In addition, I liked the language and the writing.  I recommend it.
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ould you want to know when you will die? It would give you a chance to live life to its fullest or could hang over you like a death sentence. 

It's 1969 and the 4 young Gold siblings decide to chance it when a gypsy comes to town to find out when their expiration dates are up. 

These prophecies dictate how their lives unfold because as much as they don't want to believe, their own self fulfilling prophecies will lead them down a path: Simon, the youngest, lives his life recklessly trying to fulfill his dreams at the cost of losing his family; Klara, the magician, thinks she is invincible of death and will outlive it, but the memory of the prophecy overshadows hers life and she takes up alcohol as a way of coping. Can she magically will away her time?Daniel, the doctor, believes in science rather than the prophecies of a witch. But when his d day comes, does the science prove truth over the reality of the words spoken to him as a young boy? And Varya, the eldest who is to live the longest. She dedicates her life to studying primates and their longevity; opting for science rather than the irrational. But longevity doesn't equate to living. All siblings influenced by the psychic's premonitions - 
True or false they padded the paths each child followed. The tragedies that may have been avoided.

Themes of religion, sibling rivalry, family and regrets, abound in this exemplary story that spans 3 centuries. And a totally cool cover makes this a 5⭐️ read.
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The book opens in 1969 on New York's Lower East Side. Four young siblings -- I mean kids -- go to visit a fortune teller who is rumored to be able to tell you the date of your death. What they learn from the fortuneteller will color their lives. I liked the structure of this book, with the POV staggered among the siblings. Would be a good choice for book groups. 3 1/2 stars.
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I was so excited to read this book. Long story, short - it was a letdown. This is a piece of literary fiction about four siblings who, in 1969, go to see a traveling psychic who is rumored to be able to tell them the date they will die. The book spans the next several decades, following their lives as they each have their dates looming over them. The book focuses on the relationship between the siblings, which was the major drawing point for me. I love reading about families and especially the dynamic between siblings, but in this particular case, it fell short. I can think of a dozen other books that I'd prefer to read that focus on this topic. Sadly, this one did not live up to all the hype. *ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
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Each sibling had a good story, but the whole thing was so tragic. Would they have led different lives if they hadn't seen the fortune teller at such a young, impressionable age?
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The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin is the epic tale of the four Gold siblings, and how they live their lives after visiting a travelling psychic as children and being told the day of their deaths. How each deal with the impending date is slightly different, and begs the question of whether knowing when you will die would be a good thing? How would it affect your life? Would it force you to make different decisions? Do you put your faith in a prophecy given to you by someone others might say is a fraud? Do you even waste your time thinking about it, or bury it away?

This novel is going to be a tough one for me to rate on a star scale, which is why I didn't give it one on Goodreads as soon as I finished it, like I normally do. It is a VERY well-written book, and I devoured it in two sittings. I read Simon's section one night, and the rest of the sibling's sections the next day. The entire premise of the book is incredibly intriguing, and really hooked me from the very beginning...and honestly would make a great book club selection because there's so much to talk about. But if you need to like the characters in your book...this one is probably going to drive you batty.

I mean it. If you need to care immensely about their outcome, really connect with them on a deep level, and like them as a person...this might not be the book for you. I'm okay with not liking my characters, or reading a book full of what I like to refer to as Gray people. Characters who aren't all good, wonderful, great, nice, sweet, terrific (Light) or evil, mean, rotten, horrible, nasty (Dark). They instead fit somewhere in the murky middle ground. I didn't necessarily "like" any of the Gold siblings, or their mother...or any of the other characters in this book. I came very close to liking Simon and Varya, and I'm okay with that. They were complex characters, for the most part.

It's funny...hands down, my favorite scene in the entire book comes at almost the very end, in a conversation between Varya and her mother. I'm not going to spoil anything for you...but my thoughts on the whole thing were pretty in line with the mom, who you generally don't like for the first half of the book...and the second half wonder if it's the same woman. But I was left wondering if things would've gone different for all of the Gold children if they'd have had this conversation with their mom a few decades earlier!!

Anyway...the book definitely makes you think...so I'd say it was worth reading. I thought the writing was phenomenal, but it isn't an easy one for me to sum up in a cute little bundle for public consumption. I have complex feelings, so this review is probably all over the place! But a huge thank-you to the author, netgalley and the folks at Great Thoughts/Great Readers for sending me the book to read. A very complex read, where death may as well have been another character as in The Book Thief. But if given the chance to give a few whollops to some folks...I would.
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This book is stunning! Where do I begin? The concept and plot are flawless, the characters were perfectly written, and the book reads beautifully. I read the novel in a single sitting because I couldn't stop turning the pages. It is a thoughtful look at life, family, and mortality. I wished it could have been longer because I would have easily read a full book of each character's life. Truly, a masterpiece. Definitely pick this book up!!
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A sweeping novel of love, family, and drama and history.
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It's 1969 and the Gold children are living in the stifling Lower East Side of New York. When they learn that a traveling psychic is in town they sneak out to learn their fate. Now, armed with the mystic's knowledge of the day each will die, Varya, Daniel, Klara, and Simon set out to shape their lives into what they will become.

The Immortalists delves into the connection between family members and seeks to answer the question of how you would live life if you were aware of the unknowable.

I found the birth of Ruby interesting because she hadn't been born when the other Gold children visited the psychic. I wanted to pay special attention to how the way she attempted to plan her life differed from her siblings, who had information about their ultimate fate. Some of which approached life with caution and others who threw caution to the wind.

The Immortalists is a wonderful book of what-ifs intertwined with family drama. An interesting book for the curious and adventurous at heart.
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First of all -- the cover of this book is absolutely gorgeous. When I read the synopsis for this book I honestly wasn't too intrigued; I've had this book for months but hadn't picked it up. Once I finally started reading I didn't want to stop. This was a magical book in so many ways, and I think one that will resonate with all readers in one way or another. The story flows seamlessly through history, religion, and perspective. 
Each sibling's character development is as impressive as it is immersive. We are introduced to each sibling immediately, but only as the plot progresses do we really get a feel for their profound individuality. I really felt like I knew Simon, Varya, Daniel, and Klara, and for this reason the reader develops a real attachment to each character. The religious aspects of this story drew me in even deeper. I was also raised in a Jewish family, and I think this allowed me to feel truly connected to the characters and themes. 
The mix of mysticism and Jewish beliefs in relation to family and relationships was fascinating. There is a romantic and even exotic attachment to the world of spirits and fortune tellers; the reader is drawn into this world just as the siblings are in the beginning. When they visit a fortune teller in late 60's NYC, she tells each of them the exact date of their death. The story unfolds as we learn how each sibling deals with this information in his/her own way, following them into their adolescent and adult lives. How do our choices influence the lives of those we love most? Are we autonomous with our free will, or are our outcomes left to the ambivalence of fate? 
The Immortalists is a vivid, thought-provoking work, imbuing the reader with so many feelings by the end of the story. If you choose to believe the date given by the fortune teller, how might this influence decisions in your life? Whether you ignore the prophecy or build your life around it, there is no escaping the influence of such knowledge.
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