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The Immortalists : If you knew the date of…
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The Immortalists : If you knew the date of your death, how would you live? (edition 2018)

by Chloe Benjamin

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2,7271744,514 (3.75)69
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. Their 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, hoping to control fate. Bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality. 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.… (more)
Member:JessieEB664
Title:The Immortalists : If you knew the date of your death, how would you live?
Authors:Chloe Benjamin
Info:London : Tinder Press, 2018.
Collections:Your library
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The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

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Showing 1-5 of 174 (next | show all)
3.5 stars. Four siblings find out the date of their death when they are kids from a fortune teller, which ends up being accurate. Are our choices already predetermined for us? Do we have any control over our future? I liked how it followed each sibling through an ongoing time-line. ( )
  LittleSpeck | Nov 21, 2022 |
This book examines the question: “How would you live your life if you knew the date of your death?” Would it cause you to live life to the fullest or live in fear? Four siblings visit a fortune teller and are each individually told their “death date.” The author focuses on one sibling at a time, and follows each through a portion of his or her life. Since they are siblings, each is influenced to some degree by the actions of the others, and lots of family dynamics are at play.

The storyline is creative and the characters are extremely well-developed. I almost felt as though I knew each of them personally, and could picture the psychological burdens they carried. The stories are interesting, touching on topics ranging from gay life in San Francisco in the 1980’s to performance magic to military medicine to scientific research on longevity. It brings up questions on the meaning of life, and does so in an entertaining manner. It shows how a single event can have far-reaching psychological repercussions. It explores how much of what one believes to be true leads to a self-fulfilling prophesy. Themes include science vs. religion, the power of words, dealing with uncertainty, the impact of knowledge (both good and detrimental). There was a bit of graphic sex in one of the parts, and another was a bit of a stretch on the suspension of disbelief, but overall, I found it almost spell-binding and particularly enjoyed the author’s elegant writing style.

Highly recommended to readers of thought-provoking literature. It would be an excellent pick for a book club. I received an advance copy of this e-book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for a candid review. This book will be released in January 2018. ( )
  Castlelass | Oct 30, 2022 |
I fully expected to not like this book. It was so incredibly hyped that I thought there was no way it would live up to it. And the very first opening page turned me off completely. I read the bulk of this on a flight between DC and Albuquerque, after finishing two other books. So I started this, and then the next thing I knew, the plane was preparing its descent and I had less than 100 pages to go. I ended up finishing the book that evening.

How would you live your life if you knew the day you would die? Benjamin crafted a thoughtful story that explores that question, and delves into quality vs. quantity of life. The four Gold siblings visit a psychic who tells them their death dates, which span from tragically young to old age. The book is divided up into sections focusing on each sibling, and after one's death, the narrative - like passing a baton - passes to the next sibling.

The story has that self-fulfilling prophecy paradox that makes my head hurt if I think too hard about, and that I so love. By knowing their death dates, that influences the actions of each of the siblings. Whereas if they hadn't known, then their lives would have gone off in a different course and would they still have died on those dates? Shades of Macbeth here!

The last section of the book was perfect, even though at the time, I didn't think it would be. But it really delves into the quality vs. quantity issue - yes, we can prolong how long we live, but is it a life worth living?

There were a few issues I had. First, the random throwaway sexual references which just seemed odd and out-of-place instead of edgy. The book opened - and this was the passage that made me think I'd hate the book - with a description of Varya's body post-puberty, complete with references to her breasts and her pubic hair. (Um... okay?)

Second, problematic portrayals of gypsies. Which I won't go into too much because it's a spoiler, but it's there and made me twitch. It threw me completely out of Daniel's story.

Review copy courtesy of the publisher via its First to Read program. ( )
  wisemetis | Sep 13, 2022 |
I had a hard time getting through this book at times because it dealt with some really hard themes. This is not a light read, but there are many enjoyable moments. Aids in the days before it had a name, suicide, young death. It was a really well written book and I highly recommend it.

How much a small thing you do when you are young can influence your decisions as you grow older was thoroughly explored in this tale of siblings. I enjoyed how we explored each sibling up to the point of their death so you could see where their heads were and the decisions that ultimately lead up to their demise. This is a great book for book club discussion about fate and causality and how our decisions affect our lives. Definitely give it a chance. ( )
  McBeezie | Jul 27, 2022 |
4 children visit a fortune teller. She gives them their dates of death. Story of how this knowledge affected and influenced their lives. Would I want to know? ( )
  wincheryl | Jun 20, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 174 (next | show all)
Chloe Benjamin pulls this novel off almost as a series of four set-pieces, enriched by period detail from each era.
 
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For my grandmother, Lee Krug
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Varya is thirteen. New to her are three more inches of height and the dark patch of fur between her legs.
Quotations
She's always thought of home as a physical destination, but perhaps Raj and Ruby are home enough. Perhaps home, like the moon, will follow wherever she goes.
Our language is our strength. Thoughts have wings.
The cost of loneliness is high, she knows, but the cost of loss is higher.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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. Their 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, hoping to control fate. Bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality. 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.

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