Cover Image: Immortal Longings

Immortal Longings

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I am now convinced that Chloe Gong has the ability to write enemies to lovers that I will eat up every, single. Time.

In the twin cities of San-Er, the annual games are about to commence. Games where one of eighty eight players will be awarded, victory, fame, and riches to change their lives. Calla Tuolemei, lost princess of Er, enters with the intent to take her revenge on a brutal ruler. Anton only seeks to gain the funds needed to save the girl he loves. The two make an unlikely pairing knowing that in the end, only one can survive.

Ahhh the tension in this was SO. GOOD. Enemies to lovers is one of my favorite tropes, and Chloe Gong can write characters that hate each other like nobody else. The witty banter? Stunning. The angst? FLAWLESS. That alone was enough to keep me turning pages.

Which is good, because a lot of the other elements fell a bit flat. This was definitely like an adult version of The Hunger Games, with the added twist that certain citizens of San-Er have the ability to transfer their qi, and therefore consciousness, into other people’s bodies. Now the premise of this was SO FREAKING COOL, I genuinely don’t think I’ve read another book with that kind of magic system. But, and this is a big but, it was really underdeveloped. There were lots of arbitrary rules, like that kids couldn’t jump (and yet they did), or that one family bloodline was immune to being taken over, or that taking over another body permanently causes madness (also with exceptions). New rules cropped up all the time, often with little to no explanation to why they existed in the first place.

The games themselves felt like kind of a side note, a stage for the other themes to play out on rather than a central point of the book (unlike in the Hunger Games). But the thing that got me most about he game aspect, was there were SO MANY other ways it could have played out in the end, which I cannot go into because spoilers, but trust me. There definitely could have been a much more Peeta and Katniss kind of ending than there was. Easily.

Along with the enemies to lovers aspect, I did really like the characters. Calla was so easy to root for (and she had QUITE the commentary on gender, let me tell you. Minor identity crisis moment). Anton gave me puppy dog vibes for literally no discernible reason. And yet…if there weren’t that one spicy scene, I totally would have categorized this as YA. Which isn’t bad, I love YA. It was just a different tone than I was expecting. The turmoil and self-discovery angles felt a lot like tropes we see frequently in YA, and the characters themselves acted a lot like teens. None of this deserves a downgrade in rating, just a good thing to keep in mind before you pick it up.

In short, this was a solid first book with amazing enemies to lovers and an interesting, if underdeveloped, magic system. I’m hopeful that book two will resolve some of my questions and firm up the world-building.

Rating: 3.5/5
Pacing: slow-medium
Intended audience: Adult
Content warnings: murder, violence, gore,

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Not my fav book by her but def interested in reading more! 4/5 stars! I'll probs pick up the next book.

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DNF at 33%. The premise of this one is really interesting, but the execution just isn't working for me. I love the whole concept of a Hunger Games style competition coupled with body swapping (much like The Host), but the story is a lot more telling versus actually seeing the action play out.

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- IMMORTAL LONGINGS is a retelling of Antony and Cleopatra, set in a world of poverty and despair where no one can be trusted because people can swap bodies at will.
- This book is very much an adult Hunger Games. The body-jumping element was a bit confusing at first, but Gong is quite detailed about the mechanics of it, so you're soon enough blazing through San-Er with the protagonists as they slash and burn their way to the top.
- I thought it got a little repetitive in the middle (there were a LOT of people to murder), but there are a couple of twists in the second half that literally made me gasp out loud. I'll definitely be reading the next installment.

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I had the absolute pleasure of reading Immortal Longings by Chloe Gong this week and I cannot believe that it’s the first book of hers I’ve read!

Usually science fiction fantasy isn’t really what I gravitate towards in terms of books but this one kept me enthralled right through the end!

A rogue princess, a man on the run, a prince trying to get rid of the corrupt king to take the throne.. and this is me just loosely summarizing because this book is so SO much more. I absolutely cannot wait till the next book in this series that I’m sure will captivate me just as much as this one did.

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I had a fun time reading this one. I’ve been reading more and more fantasy lately so I’m definitely entering my fantasy era but this one was fun, it kind of reminded me of the hunger games. There were a few parts where I got confused with what was going on but overall still really enjoyable. I cant wait for the next book because of the cliffhanger it was left on. I really enjoyed this one and the romance that was in this book but no one can top romajuliette (I miss them). overall I truly am a chloe gong stan first and human second. I recommend this one especially if you like adult fantasy that’s a bit like the hunger games

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the premise of this book was interesting to me. a princess who killed the king and queen because she was tired of them abusing their power while the people of their country starved to death. and the power that majority of the people have of being able to jump bodies.
this was chloe gongs first adult fantasy book and it was a bit noticeable. it was adult fantasy that sort of read as Ya..minus the one and a half adult scenes.

one thing that sort of made me icky was the lack of consent. when Calla and Anton do the deed they describe not using their own bodies as normal
“this is someone else’s body, but in San-Er, that detail is as normal as jumping. When it comes to this sort of use, bodies are only accessories, discardable and utilized based on need.” i understand that anton didn’t have access to his body and Calla’s situation would have also made it impossible but it the idea of not having a clear idea of consent gave me a bad vibe.

the multiple povs was iffy for me cause it would take like a paragraph for me to realize whose story we were on and the descriptions were sometimes focused on the wrong thing and it made me skip some lines. instead of describing the building and how certain characters (that we’d never see again) looked i would have preferred more about what the actually people went through. we got a glimpse of some people being debt ridden or starving but I wish we were able to get more of a “how we are gonna change this” idea..Calla just killed one king to put another. August seemed like he also wanted to change a lot but what were his plans? how would it have changed? for a book trying to create this political conflict not a lot was given…i see this is a series so most likely we’ll get more in the next book. also leidas betrayal was a bit underwhelming and as she pointed out …anyone can have ideas but as soon as they feel the power they also become tyrants so is a monarchy even ideal in this world ??

well overall i’d say this is a good book to go into with an open mind. there’s a strong willed female character, the whole power of jumping bodies and the hunger games -esq trials

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Like all of Chloe’s books the world building is so amazing! I had been waiting for awhile for this book though. And it was so much better than I thought. The concept of the body swapping is so amazing. I felt very grounded in this book. The setting, the descriptions of the palace and the setting is so grounded. Also, this is just such a clever concept for a Cleopatra and Marc Antony retelling. Truly the bloodshed and struggles are impaccibly well thought out and brilliant. They showcase so many incredible different voices and personalities throughout the story. I feel like I still have to read it again to get the full impact of everything.

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I have never read anything by the author Chloe Gong until now but I am soooo going to read her other books!! I liked this book but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart when it comes to the deaths… it was giving Game of Thrones meets the Hunger Games! The body jumping is interesting though cause it gives me a mindset of not to get too used to a character’s appearance. You know how when you watch Game of Thrones it’s like oh can’t get attached to this character they may get the axe! Instead of that it’s like you can’t get used to a character’s appearance because who they are one day isn’t who they’ll be the next day.

I love how Chloe Gong was so descriptive with the world building in this book. It was as if I could picture everything in my mind! I know some people don’t care too much for the author describing things a lot but I do.


The Palace hosts a game every year in San-Er where the winner gets a chance to meet the King and collect their winnings. Princess Calla has joined the games to get revenge on the palace whereas Anton is actually trying win the games mainly to pay off Otta’s medical bills. The King who is known as King Kasa never had an heir to the throne so he adopted August due to most of August’s family dying or just no longer in his life. Prince August will do anything to become King. They all share an enemy in King Kasa. Each has gone through trials and tribulations to get to this point. And you may be asking yourself what point? Well…you’ll have to read to the end to see how the games unfolded!!!

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<b>“They trained her for war. And she rose up to wage it on them.” </b>

A deadly game within a game? Check

A fervently poor and desperate world on the brink of revolution just waiting for a spark to ignite it all like a powder keg? Check

Televised and sensationalized murder against competitors serving as the bread and circuses to distract the miserable masses and bring them to heel with promises of violence? Check

<b>“Slaughter as an accepted entertainment track. Slaughter as a shortcut to wealth.” </b>

Chloe Gong fans rejoice!!!! Her foray into adult fantasy is a wonderfully executed feast of action that feels like you’re dropped right into the competition. It felt cinematic, propulsive, and entertaining. It was exciting and even claustrophobic at times, despite some of the above elements inevitably harkening back to the Hunger Games and, more recently Squid Game. While those references were undoubtedly there, Gong’s take felt refreshing and struck the right balance between her usual historical viewpoints and the modern twist and delivery her readers have come to expect. While I can speak to how accurate or strongly the Shakespearean Anthony and Cleopatra references are, I can say that Anton and Calla are intriguing characters that definitely both lean hard into the dramatic flair and melodrama, while neither presenting overtly as the hero of the story.

They’re both equal parts selfish and obsessive, while demonstrating a fondness for self destruction and chaos. I loved this about them, but if you’re looking for your next hero, try looking elsewhere. Everyone here has an agenda, rightly or wrongly, and even those that appear morally just suffer from a myriad of selfish aggrandizement. These are messy people entangled with each other is a viciously corrupt and increasingly cramped system and it makes for fantastic character and idealistic conflict and turmoil.

The magic system and world felt more dystopian sci-fi than urban fantasy to me in the best way. It’s the action packed momentum and enigmatic cool vibes of The Matrix that expertly taps into some of the darker elements we as a society are addicted to: power, reality tv, technology and shiny things, distractions from a world on fire. This gave it that cinematic feel, where I could vividly imagine this playing out on screen. While Gong doesn’t dive fully into all these darker underbelly issues she taps into when laying out San-Er, she does enough to get readers to start probing and interrogating their own opinions and behaviors.

Some of the twists felt expected, but that doesn’t detract from their enjoyment, particularly when the pacing was excellent in keeping you moving through without enough room to stop and catch your breath until the end. Speaking of which, I LOVED the ending, in many ways I expected it, but it sets everything up so well for the delicious tension and greater dark secrets that are no doubt coming.

Gong’s author’s note in how she’s putting her own spin / twist on the enemies to lovers dynamic and reimagining the source inspiration was particularly interesting. I won’t go into it further to avoid some spoilers, but I certainly think we’re in store for so much more.

While there is so much I liked, my 2 quips about this are that I would have wished this was longer, just to flesh s couple points out a bit more. Like Anton’s body, the secret society, and August. I have no doubt this is coming in the next book, but a little bit more on some of these things would have built a stronger foundation. The other thing is that the spice was…well it needed some work. I get this is Gong’s first adult book, but I think her intimacy moments in the Secret Shanghai series were better at showing both attraction and desire, balanced with emotional development. Here those moments felt a little…quick and frantic, and the one open door scene felt stilted. Hopefully this is smoothed out in subsequent books and strikes a better balance.

Lastly, I want to add a note that while the Secret Shanghai series is wonderful and beloved, this feels quite different from that, especially with the FMCs. I’ve seen several reviews call Calla a copy of Juliette and that’s just patently false. Their motivations are wildly different including how they think about family, loyalty, and their positions of power. Juliette is retrained and controlled, calculating where Calla is brash, chaos, and rules by central emotions that define her every action. Do they both use violence to get their points across? Yes, but to me that’s more of a direct reflection of the patriarchal and corrupt societies they’re born into and their precarious roles as females. Not every FMC that uses violence or has skills to fights back is the same, if they were, then nearly every single fantasy FMC would be identical.

Interestingly, and really by this I mean it’s really quite sexist, reviewers don’t feel Anton and Roma are the same character, or that MMCs are all the same when they use violence to get ahead and meet their goals / ambition. Don’t get me wrong, Anton and Roma are decidedly NOT remotely the same characters, but I think it’s frankly lazy and ignorant to have this critique at all and especially aimed only at FMCs, especially when if a non-fighting, totally ordinary human FMC was presented, these same reviewers would likely complain that she’s a damsel in distress and boring. Sigh.

ANYWAY, ignore the haters, pick this up, and quickly devour this.

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Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest, no-nonsense review.

I'm going to say something that is not going to make sense, but here it goes... this book had too many words, just too many words. I am a firm believer that making a book longer does not make it better, and this book suffers from this. Do I love a good thick book? Of course. But it has to be something like Lord of the Rings, where the length is justified by an amazing, fantastical story that keeps me turning the pages. About 100 pages into this ARC I kept thinking, "Yikes, I'm not making any progress!" and that hurt my soul a little bit.

There is a lot of information dumping in this story, and I think there's some confusion on the part of the author/editor on how world creation happens in a novel. Look, I'm not a published author, as I'm too chicken to let people read anything I write. But here is something that I think most of us can agree to: you have to create a world if you're writing an 'epic fantasy' but you must do so in a way that makes the reading enjoyable. That's not this. It becomes huge paragraphs, followed by pages of pages of "this this that then this that that then this" that doesn't add to the reading experience. It just, again, is too much!

Good characters may have been able to save this one for me. A good, strong character would have at least pulled me through. However, again, everyone in this world just seems flat. It seems like something was starting, but it was never fully crafted. Do I like any of the characters? Not really. Do I dislike any of them? Because hey, a good villain or someone I want to fail can work too, but, no I don't even dislike any characters per-se. I just kind of kept reading. The "grab" was never there.

There were also two adaptation claims made about this book that didn't do any favors to the author or the novel. Of course, this has some Hunger Games vibes and I kept seeing people talking about this online before I received my ARC. I don't know that pitching it this way helped/changed/influenced my opinion as reading. However, I will say that the HG comparison doesn't help because (and I cannot believe I'm saying this) the HG has a more successful story. This was not that (for better and for worse).

Then we have the Antony and Cleopatra veil that is meant to allure this plot. Now, I love history and I really love Shakespeare. However... I didn't connect to this as a retelling. And I don't think it was meant to be a direct retelling. It was more of a study of Antony and Cleopatra. I did not find it to be an interesting study though, do not feel it connected enough, and in the end... it wasn't a great love story. Again, and I cannot believe I'm saying this, the HG series had a semi-interesting love triangle going on (no, wait, I may take that back. HG wasn't that great but alas, I'm not the one that keeps mentioning HG all over the place). The love story here is one that should have passion, it should have obsession, it should be something that people are talking about centuries later in different platforms and using different methods but... did these characters actually "love" one another? Was this a deep, enchanting love story. No... no I don't think so.

I think this novel failed because (1) it needed to be heavily edited to be a bit more manageable as a story, (2) the author needed a better focus and plan to build the world in which these characters live, and (3) the love story should have been a focus and more rounded if that was one of the main things the author wanted in the novel. It seems like this was still in workshop phase. And trust me, I hate to say that because I know the author is capable -- there were a few passages throughout where she started to shine. But then, that faded. It was obscured by more blah, blah, blah.

It just didn't work for me. Maybe I'll be an outlier on this one, but I was so disheartened after reading that I just couldn't give it more than 2 stars.

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Chloe Gong does it again 🥰 At this point, I know I'm going to love whatever she writes. This was like mashing the Hunger Games with Shakespeare and I LOVED it.

In the beginning, the world building was a bit heavy, but as the plot picked up it didn't seem so complicated.

Highly recommend.

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Rating: 4/5
I received an eARC for my honest opinion.

With this being my first Chloe Gong book, I have to say that it will not be my last. I wasn’t in love with the book at the beginning, but by the second half of the book I was invested in knowing what was going to happen and who was going to come out the winner of Hunger Games/a little of the purge with only a small selection of people who get to play.

I loved the plot of the book and found myself really into the whole theme of the book, I did find that the first part of the book was a little too much of an info dump and I almost stopped reading it about 30% but I pushed through because I wanted to see the winner of the games. I do think that with that huge info dump that a few things were overlooked, and it might have been me that might have overlooked it, but the magic system I wish that I knew more about it or that we could have had more information on it. I did enjoy the plot twist that Gong delivered in this book, and I was so happy with that plot twist that I can’t be mad at how long it took to figure it out. I thought the multiple POV was a little confusing at the start but then I had it down and I really liked that the readers got to experience the different characters’ thoughts about everything.

The characters were great for the book, but I do wish that I could have seen more development between Calla and Anton throughout the book and not just at the end of the book. With that being said, I really did like Calla and Antons characters in the book. I thought Calla, the MFC, was well written for being a badass, that does not care what she must do to get to her end game. Anton is an outcast of his family, who has one goal to get to the power that he will have if he wins to save his childhood love. Oh, and how can I forget… the character I thought I would come to love, who turned into a really bad guy August. I thought all the characters were well placed and they all had their flaws, yet you can see the power that they might have later in the book. I do have to say that I really did not feel the connection between Calla and Anton at first and I found it to be a little forced in my opinion, but by the end of the book I could understand it and I grew to like it.

I can’t wait to see what book 2 will give us.

I want to thank NetGalley and Gallery Books for the opportunity to review this book.

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I was anticipating this book for so long! Thankful for the advance copy from Netgalley. Unfortunately for me, this was a DNF. I tried so many different times to get into this book. The characters and setting had such potential. I am normally a huge fan of this author’s work. However, this one just did not keep my interest.

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This book started off a tad slow for me with a lot of complex world building. I found myself rereading some passages twice in order to keep the magic and the world straight. Once I got about 30% in the action began and made everything move much faster. The concept of body swapping was really unique and interesting to think about. I do wish that the tournament was a bit more developed with more complexity. It honestly seemed to be a secondary plot point.

Calla and Anton were both complex and dynamic main characters. They each had a lot of layers to their personalities and their histories. Their relationship brought out the best and the worst in each other which is unique for a romance story line.

There were definitely some twists, some unanswered questions, and one heck of a cliff hanger. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where this series goes!

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I really enjoyed Immortal Longings! The beginning was a bit slow setting up the world, the qi, and the jumping rules. But as it went on I was completely engrossed and building my theories. The ending was fantastic! This was a great entry into adult fantasy for Chloe Gong!

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It took me a bit to get into the book. Science Fiction is not my Cup of Tea but Chloe Gong is. I would say while I did enjoy it I probably wont read any other books in the series

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Immortal Longings by Chloe Gong
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Flesh and False Gods series, book 1
Pub date: July 18

I am SO IMPRESSED by this adult debut from this author! I LOVE discovering new worlds with unique characteristics, and this one did not disappoint. This is an urban fantasy with a creative and unique premise + a touch of love. It definitely read like the first book of a new fantasy series - extensive world building that can feel long, but kept me interested.

The competition plot gave me serious Serpent and the Wings of Night + Hunger Games vibes! This romance is a TRUE enemies to lovers and fans of the trope will be 🫠🫠🫠. It also gives a bit of Fourth Wing, but less romance and no dragons.

I listened to this one on audio and enjoyed the performance. The narrator did a good job and I have no complaints other than it was a little tricky to follow the complex and detailed fantasy story line. This may be a good read with the physical copy!

Perfect for you if you like:
Multiple POV + 3rd person
Enemies to lovers
Surprises 😱

🛑 one and a half open door scenes + explicit language
⚠️ violence + some descriptive injury narration

Thank you @simon.audio and @libro.fm for the advanced listening copy and @simonandschuster and @bookclubfavorites for the physical finished copy! It is a beauty.

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I started reading this book only knowing Chloe Gong and Shakespeare's Anthony & Cleopatra (which I've never read) and that was enough for me.
I could try to summarize this but I don't know where to start and I'm lazy.
I've had this arc for month and only read it on release day cause I'm stupid but also, I listened to it in the end.

The audio really pulled me in from the start and I could not stop reading. I actually finished this in a day. I was captivated, I liked the world, the characters and the drama of it all. My favorite character was Calla of course and I loved getting to know her throughout the book. All of the twists took me completely by surprise. I saw none of them coming. I was pretty much screaming by the end and I cannot wait for the next book. Truly another hit by Miss Gong in my opinion.

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4.5 stars. Chloe Gong always delivers.

After devouring all four of Chloe Gong’s previous releases, I was so excited to dive into her adult debut set in the fictional cities of San-Er, starring the disgraced Princess Calla Tuoleimi and fugitive Anton Makusa as they try to win a Hunger Games-esque competition. I had many many thoughts while reading, so this review will be a pro/con list.

Pros:
- The plot
Chloe Gong is a master of engaging plots. All of her books so far surround some sort of mystery that unravels over the course of the book, and Gong weaves clues and foreshadowing expertly throughout. There are a few plot twists that made my jaw actually drop and a few others that I could see from afar, but all were set up sufficiently through the story.

- The characters
Similarly to her plots, Gong is amazing at creating interesting characters. The character dynamics are extremely interesting, with Calla and August knowing each other from the palace, Anton and August likewise, Calla and Anton meeting through the games, and Galipei and August being the classic bodyguard x prince. (Sidenote: Galipei has my whole heart and I will riot depending on what happens to him in the next book).

- The setting
The city of San-Er drew me in along with the characters. Gong’s phsyical descriptions are always on the right side of flowery, generating the perfect amount of imagery for the reader. San-Er is so clear in my mind as this place of debauchery and technology, and I am so excited to return to it.

- Jumping
This book introduces the concept of “jumping”, where one person can “jump” to another person’s body, carrying over only their mind and their eye color. There’s so many interesting mechanics to it that are subverted throughout the book, and overall I think it’s a fantastic conept for a fantasy series.

Cons:
- "The Hunger Games”
I’ll be honest, I really dislike when books/movies compare themselves to The Hunger Games: in my mind, nothing can come close to the social commentary and poise that THG had, and comparisons just set me up for disappointment. Immortal Longings was no different on that front, but I think that’s a fault of the marketing rather than the book itself.

- The romance
I hate to say it… but Calla and Anton do not have chemistry 😭 I wish the book leaned more into the “looming death makes people bond way too strong” aspect of their romance instead of treating it like a legitimate love, because that would’ve explained the lack of buildup in their romance. There were a few scenes that did have my toes curling (this is an adult book after all) but I didn’t feel like they fit in the context of the story. I am very very excited to see how that final plot twist will affect them though 👀

- The names
This feels like such a small thing to bring up but the names in this book really irked me 😭. I haven’t read Antony and Cleopatra so I don’t know who’s names are based off of what, but I think sci-fi names are always a slippery slope. Unfortunately, other than Galipei and Anton, the rest of the names are just so silly to me. None of them seem to share any linguistic similarities with the others and it threw me off every time, plus some of them were just funny to say out loud. Not the biggest critique in the grand scheme of things, but I noticed it enough times that I felt I should include it here.

Overall this book was an amazing experience. The world and characters drew me in, and I CANNOT wait for book two. Thank you to Simon&Schuster and NetGalley for an eARC of this book, all opinions are my own.

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