The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin Cover

The Immortalists — Latest Read

My latest read was The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. The story begins in New York in 1969. Four siblings visit a fortune teller who predicts the dates of their deaths. The book then tells the story of each of the four siblings. The book’s premise is that the prophecy “shapes” their lives in unforeseen ways. This provides the narrative arc that ties the four characters’ stories together.

This book got positive press and pretty good traction on the bestseller lists. The writing was competent enough, but the Fate versus Free Will trope didn’t seem to work. Each of the characters was portrayed as almost entirely self-focused. The storylines were just depressing. I am not sure if more could have been done with the concept, but this one came up short for me.

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin Cover

The Immortalists

Chloe Benjamin

If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?

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.

The 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; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

A sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next. It is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds.

Released January 9, 2018
352 pages

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