BOOK REVIEW: CHLOE BENJAMIN – THE IMMORTALISTS

*Just a gentle note, this review may contain small spoilers that you may want to avoid before reading the book*

This is a book that I have seen all over my social media, especially Twitter. There’s been a big ‘buzz’ about this book and of course, the cover is just gorgeous, isn’t it? When this was up for grabs on Twitter, I grabbed the chance. This is a book that really intrigued me and fascinated me. So, what’s it all about? This is what the blurb writes:

It’s 1969, and holed up in a grimy tenement building in New York’s Lower East Side is a travelling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the date they will die. The four Gold children, too young for what they’re about to hear, sneak out to learn their fortunes.

Such prophecies could be dismissed as trickery and nonsense, yet the Golds bury theirs deep. Over the years that follow they might attempt to ignore, embrace, cheat or defy the ‘knowledge’ given to them that day – but it will shape the course of their lives forever.

Sounds good, right? I won’t lie, it took me a while to get into this book. I think I found it a bit overwhelming to start with, but after the prologue, and reading Simon’s story, I raced through it. Simon’s story was my favourite part and character in the book. I just found his story really fascinating and interesting as he left his family to go to San Francisco with Klara and became part of the gay scene there. I found this story completely heartbreaking and yet beautiful and heartwarming at the same time. Simon left one family and became part of another. I thought the writing in Simon’s part was strong, bold, brilliant, and tugs at your heart strings. His relationships wasn’t forced, the writing wasn’t clunky and the sex scenes were believable and not cheesy or over-the-top. It was real and authentic.

I also really enjoyed Klara’s story. As a child, I grew up fascinated in magic. I really loved reading about Klara and her passion for what she does. Klara’s story was also beautiful yet tragic, heartwarming yet heartbreaking. As time progresses and the years fleet past, we see how this big prophecy has shaped this family of siblings, like a shadow following them. There are a number of great, interesting themes that the book explores: sexuality, AIDS, wars, magic, religion, morality, immorality, love, family, etc. The writing is just beautiful, bold, strong and striking. My book is full of pages bookmarked just because I fell in love with the quotes. I loved this one:

‘Life isn’t just about defying death,’ Raj says, his voice coming through the speakers on either side of the television. ‘It’s also about defying yourself, about insisting on transformation. As long as you can transform, my friends, you cannot die.’

This book is pure escapism. If you feel you can’t get into the story, you’re not enjoying it, plough through because you will find yourself so engrossed in the story that you keep turning page after page without even noticing, lost in this magical world. I think this book is already being made into a TV series and I can’t wait to see it! This book is so descriptive, so visual that it just bounces of the page. When reading, the scenes just come alive in your mind. Simon’s dancing. The gay club scenes. The marches. Klara and her magic. Varya in the lab. This book is colourful, beautiful, escapism, that will just make the perfect TV series.

At the end of the book, there’s an interview with Chloe Benjamin on her research for the book. I think there should be more like this in other books, it gives the reader another understanding of the novel. I really loved this quote:

I hope the resulting novel will offer readers a similar glimpse into new aspects of American history and personhood – and that it inspires them the same empathy for the unfamiliar as it did in me.

I think it’s safe to say, that it did just exactly that. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Once I got going, I couldn’t stop turning the page. I loved Simon and his story. I was lost in the magic of Klara but one criticism from me is that I felt the ending was a bit… ‘Oh! Is that it?’ but didn’t ruin the overall book.

Go and read this beautiful book and be lost in the magic of the Gold family. And as it says on the cover: If you knew the date of your death, how do you live your life?

Have you read The Immortalists yet? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

A big thank you to Caitlin Raynor for the copy!

 

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