The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin is a riveting novel about destiny and choice. It will stick with you long after you’ve finished the last page.
The premise revolves around the question: if you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life? The four Gold children each find out their date from a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. For more about the synopsis, click here.
Every beginning has an ending. We know everyone will pass at some point but worrying about that future conflicts with living in the present. But would that change if suddenly we find out the hour of our passing? This is what The Immortalists is about.
The four siblings
Benjamin creates flawed characters in the Gold siblings. Prior to reading this novel, a user on Instagram warned me that the characters aren’t exactly likable. And it is true that each of them exhibit selfishness and arrogance at times. But with the curse of knowing their end date, it might have shaped their personality more than expected. In a sense, they’re all living with urgency but afraid they’re not making the most of the time they have.
We first follow Simon, a 16-year-old who finally feels free to embrace his homosexuality when he moves to San Francisco with his sister Klara. We know that the psychic said his predicated date happens when he’s “young.” We just don’t know how young it will be. But before then, he embraces who he truly is and not only finds a passion for dancing but also experiences a love story, too. Simon, more than the other siblings, truly lives to the fullest and has no regrets.
But Simon’s ability to have no regrets does not translate to his elder siblings who have lost a brother by the time we get to the section dedicated to Klara. Again, we know Klara’s end date, which is in her early ’30s. But she’s not as free as Simon as she feels immense guilt that her choices had an impact on him. Still, though, she decides to put all her efforts into her magician act where she lives on the edge as she dangles at great heights during performances. As her act with her husband sees greater success, Klara finds herself fighting more demons within.
Next up is Daniel who is both bitter about feeling left behind by Klara and Simon and also massive regret for what could have been. As the oldest child, he felt he could have shielded them better and never should have left the siblings visit the psychic. He then becomes obsessed with what he sees is the psychic’s role in their deaths. This takes his life on a dangerous course.
And finally we have Varya who was “blessed” with receiving the end date in her 80s but life hasn’t been easy for her either. I don’t want to give too much away with her storyline as many dangling threads come to a close in her section.
The idea starts to ponder: are these siblings dying on the specified date because of fate or is it choice?
Knowing the end
This one is definitely unique because in a sense, we know the ending, right? But the journey of how they get there is mostly captivating. There are sections that go a little too long and since this is a more serious, dark read in many ways, I would have liked to see a bit more light to meet it. It does happen but more so toward the end with Varya’s section. I had mixed emotions about some sections but the ending really tied everything together for me.
This read is worth your time for the original premise alone. It does make you think what would you do if you know time is truly limited.