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Fixed on Fiction

The Immortalists

In November, Fixed on Fiction met to discuss The Immortalists by 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.

-Summary courtesy of Goodreads.

The Immortalists received thumbs-up and so-so votes in FoF, no thumbs down! Here are some of comments readers made while explaining their reaction to the book:

  • I felt like it was a train wreck in the beginning, but I ended up loving it. I had a hard time dealing with the family being so angry at Simon for leaving. I also struggled to read the scenes that took place in the lab. Her son arriving was an interesting twist and I loved that we were invited to consider living a full life vs. longevity.
  • I enjoyed it. A little hard to read- no one seemed very happy. And of course I was wondering if they died simply because she planted that seed?
  • It was an interesting read for me as an only child- it gave me insight into how siblings are connected.
  • A mixed bag- so-so. Benjamin had a lot of insightful things to say about humanity and I liked her writing style. I liked Simon’s story and Varya’s. I had a hard time believing Daniel’s breakdown- it seemed too sudden and out of character.
  • I didn’t really like any of the characters very much. I liked Simon’s section, but his death was so predictable and sad. I also liked the writing style.
  • I couldn’t BELIEVE the siblings didn’t share their dates with one another.
  • Very well-written. A little contrived in terms of certain characters conveniently appearing throughout the book (the cop).
  • I thought the family was very believable. Siblings are often very close when they’re young but they drift apart when they’re older.

These are just a few comments made during our discussion, please feel free to share additional thoughts on The Immortalists in the comments section below.

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