Review: The Immortalists | Chloe Benjamin

She understands, too, the loneliness of parenting, which is the loneliness of memory—to know that she connects a future unknowable to her parents with a past unknowable to her child.

Book Info

Genre: Magical Realism
Number of Pages: 346
Perspective: Third Person Alternating
Location: New York and San Francisco

The Immortalists follows four siblings. As children, they visit a psychic who tells them the exact days of their deaths. That knowledge shapes their entire lives and takes them on diverging paths. For a complete summary, you can go here.

Book Review

TL;DR: Sad, strange, and better off as a short story.

Rating: 3/5

Full Review: I read this as a part of my monthly book club. This is one of those books that I enjoyed while reading it, but didn’t like it once I finished. It started off strong, then slowly got weirder (not in a good way). Part of the problem is that we followed four siblings across a lifetime. The last two siblings were barely mentioned in the first half of the book, so I didn’t feel any sense of connection to them. But I loved the first quarter. It had a very different feel than the rest of the book.

Maybe I also don’t enjoy books that span over a lifetime. I would rather dive deep into a snapshot of someone’s life than get a broad overview. This reminded me of The Rules of Magic which also followed multiple siblings over a lifetime and also had an is-it-magic-or-is-it-all-in-your-head theme. [Listen to our podcast episode discussing The Rules of Magic in-depth.] I think covering such a large span of time creates a lot of telling, rather than showing. I’m not looking for fluffy purpose prose, but I do want to feel immersed in a scene.

I also don’t like when a book doesn’t fit its genre. It’s technically historical fiction, but maybe magical realism. Or maybe light fantasy? Probably literary fiction. It was also just sad. There was maybe a little hope at the end. Overall, just sad. I don’t mind sad or dark, but you also have to entertain me and connect me to the characters. I didn’t get that from this book. I’m an empath, so I usually get emotional alongside the characters. I didn’t feel any emotion from this book at all.

With all that said, it was unlike any other books I’ve read, which I can always appreciate. If you like books about mortality, this is for you. If you loved Rules of Magic, you’ll probably also enjoy this one. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

My Rating

3 star

The cost of loneliness is high, she knows, but the cost of loss is higher.

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