Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Immortalists Review

I feel like I need to start this review off with an apology for being absent for a few of my regular M-W-F blog posts. I've been doing a lot of ruminating, and soul searching, about the blog and my writing etc...and it led to taking a few days off. But I'm back with a review for another book sent to me by the Great Thoughts/Great Readers Book Ninja Crew and Netgalley! If you follow any book accounts on Instagram, you've probably seen this beautifully covered book all over the place...or you may have already read it. This book has been talked about A LOT, so although it took me a little longer to pick it up than it should have, I needed to see what all the talk was about. Plus, I need to mention that cover again?!?

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin is the epic tale of the four Gold siblings, and how they live their lives after visiting a travelling psychic as children and being told the day of their deaths. How each deal with the impending date is slightly different, and begs the question of whether knowing when you will die would be a good thing? How would it affect your life? Would it force you to make different decisions? Do you put your faith in a prophecy given to you by someone others might say is a fraud? Do you even waste your time thinking about it, or bury it away?

Simon is the youngest of the Gold siblings. A stunningly gorgeous teenager when he runs away to San Francisco to live freely as a gay man, he lives with abandon and there's no tomorrow. And late 70's/early 80's era San Francisco isn't kind to the gay community. At times enjoyable, and other times incredibly frustrating, his story line filled me with sadness.

Klara is the bohemian sibling obsessed with her family's eccentric past. She works for years as a magician, at first on her own and then with her husband. But her problems with alcohol and what is most likely an undiagnosed mental disorder, start getting a tad out of control. Although intriguing and very mystical, I spent most of her story line wanting to give her a good smack upside the head.

Daniel is the all-american older brother and military man, although his career as an Army Doctor starts moving in a direction he didn't foresee. He becomes a man obsessed with his childhood prophecy, but at what cost? This is a man that made me As in, "What the HELL are you DOING?!?!". Good stuff...

And then you have Varya, the oldest of the Gold siblings. She has dedicated her entire life to studying aging, and trying to find a way to increase our longevity. But is she really living? And will her past decisions come back to haunt her? Her section of the book holds my favorite scene.

This novel is going to be a tough one for me to rate on a star scale, which is why I didn't give it one on Goodreads as soon as I finished it, like I normally do. It is a VERY well-written book, and I devoured it in two sittings. I read Simon's section one night, and the rest of the sibling's sections the next day. The entire premise of the book is incredibly intriguing, and really hooked me from the very beginning...and honestly would make a great book club selection because there's so much to talk about. But if you need to like the characters in your book...this one is probably going to drive you batty.

I mean it. If you need to care immensely about their outcome, really connect with them on a deep level, and like them as a person...this might not be the book for you. I'm okay with not liking my characters, or reading a book full of what I like to refer to as Gray people. Characters who aren't all good, wonderful, great, nice, sweet, terrific (Light) or evil, mean, rotten, horrible, nasty (Dark). They instead fit somewhere in the murky middle ground. I didn't necessarily "like" any of the Gold siblings, or their mother...or any of the other characters in this book. I came very close to liking Simon and Varya, and I'm okay with that. They were complex characters, for the most part.

It's funny...hands down, my favorite scene in the entire book comes at almost the very end, in a conversation between Varya and her mother. I'm not going to spoil anything for you...but my thoughts on the whole thing were pretty in line with the mom, who you generally don't like for the first half of the book...and the second half wonder if it's the same woman. But I was left wondering if things would've gone different for all of the Gold children if they'd have had this conversation with their mom a few decades earlier!!

Anyway...the book definitely makes you I'd say it was worth reading. I thought the writing was phenomenal, but it isn't an easy one for me to sum up in a cute little bundle for public consumption. I have complex feelings, so this review is probably all over the place! But a huge thank-you to the author, netgalley and the folks at Great Thoughts/Great Readers for sending me the book to read. A very complex read, where death may as well have been another character as in The Book Thief. But if given the chance to give a few whollops to some folks...I would. 😂

How do you feel about reading books with characters you don't like?? Let me know in the comments!

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