Review: The Immortalists - Chloe Benjamin
Updated: Sep 17, 2018
Genre: Literary Fiction Published: GP Putnams Publishing, Jan. 2018 My rating: 3.5 stars
“The power of words. They weaseled under door crevices and through keyholes. They hooked into invididuals and wormed through generations.” The Immortalists is one of those books with a castiron premise, and some great hype since it’s release, so my expectations were up. Part of it lived up to those expectations, while others did not. It was a good and quick read, but I definitely think there are better books in this genre.
After a strong prologue, in which 4 siblings visit a fortuneteller who tells them the exact date they will die, the story is told in 4 parts, each from the perspective of a different sibling, whom we follow until their deathdate. We follow a part of their lives and the way the knowledge gained from this fortuneteller has influenced that.
Despite the magical sounding premise the book is definitely literary fiction, not magical realism. It is never confirmed that the fortuneteller actually was able to see their future. It’s the actions of the characters, based on this “knowledge” the leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy. I really enjoyed that aspect, although I think it would be good to know beforehand, considering the marketing of this book. I will quickly go into my thoughts on the four separate storylines, as there were two that I enjoyed way more than the others. If you want 0 spoilers, you may want to skip this part. I will hide major spoilers as such.
Part 1: Simon Probably the most disappointing one for me. Simon is a young gay man in the ‘80’s, who moves to San Francisco in search of love, lust and acceptance. This in itself would make an interesting novel, but my first thought while reading the first chapter was; oh god, please don’t let her do “this thing” leading to Simon’s death. (view spoiler) And what do you know: that exact thing, that took me 30 seconds to think of, happened. It felt cliché and a bit cheap for the only gay character in the book.
Part 2: Klara Even though I predicted Klara’s cause death as well, it made sense for her character and I enjoyed this part more than the first. Klara becomes one of the few female magicians in Vegas, obsessed with defying and controlling death in her magictricks. She had some interesting thoughts and I could relate to some aspects of her character.
Part 3: Daniel This was where the book shone for me. Daniels part is very reflective; he thinks a lot about the relationships in his family and the way this prophecy has affected his siblings and himself. It was heartfelt and Daniels character was one I would have loved to spend some more pagetime with. His deathscene for me was the most emotional one in the book.
Part 4: Varya A little disappointing unfortunately. (view spoiler) felt a little gimmicky in the context and I could not really connect to her character in full, which made for a bit of a disappointing ending.
All in all a 3.5 star read for me. I would recommend it, although I am not sure I feel it lives up to all the hype it gets.
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