The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin (Book Review)

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Page Count
: 352

CW: death, graphic sex scenes, suicide, animal cruelty

I was so looking forward to this book. The premise, as strange and gloomy as it may sound, really captivated me and I was ready to dive into it immediately. I quite enjoy family-centric books that focus on the bonds that are built, strained and possibly destroyed over time, which made the whole aspect of the story spanning over several decades even more endearing. After actually reading the book though, I was rather torn. I debated whether I could actually find the words to write this review, but here we are and I am trying.

“She’d tell herself that what she really wanted was not to live forever, but to stop worrying.”

I both liked and very much disliked this book. Don’t get me wrong, there were many powerful and enchanting moments in the Immortalists but something about the execution irked me. I was prepared for sadness and difficult scenes, after all, this book is about death. However, the read stayed kind of illusive to me until the end and therefore made some of the more hard-hitting moments difficult to grasp. I was confused by several passages, never quite sure if it could be classified as magical realism or if this was supposed to just be reality. I understand that there isn’t always a need to explain everything, but if you are indicating there was e.g. a mental illness at play and you make it look like magic instead, I will definitely be confused. Also, even though the topic of the book is supposedly about fate vs. self-fulfilling prophecies, I don’t actually know where it stands on that subject by the end of it. Maybe it’s good to question that. Maybe it was designed that way to make the reader think, but I would have liked to explore the intricacies of that concept a little more.

“Character is fate—that’s what he said. They’re bound up, those two, like brothers and sisters. You wanna know the future?” She points at Varya with her free hand. “Look in the mirror.”

Overall, the Immortalists reads a lot like historical fiction. Since we start in the late 60s and go all the way to the mid 2000s, they cover a lot of ground and events during that time. That was also the reason why I let them get away with language I would not have liked to read in a book set in contemporary times.

“She knows that stories have the power to change things: the past and the future, even the present.”

Lastly, I don’t need my characters to be likable. We aren’t all likable humans, but these four siblings really didn’t make it easy to root for them sometimes. And the way some of their bodily changes were described just felt unnecessary to me. Do you really have to introduce a 13 year-old in the second sentence of a book by mentioning her pubic hair? I am not trying to say there’s anything wrong about pubic hair, but what was the point of that description?

This may be an odd way to end the review, but this was also an odd read for me. From what I understand, a lot of people really enjoyed this book and therefore it could just be a me-problem here. I cannot put into words what it was lacking for me, but there definitely was something missing that could have elevated The Immortalists by a couple stars.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! While it had some great moments, it ultimately wasn’t the kind of book I wanted it to be.

Have you read The Immortalists? Is it a story you can see yourself enjoying? Let’s talk about it!

24 thoughts on “The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin (Book Review)

  1. I’m good with unlikeable characters. In fact, I chase them. The first two siblings (I forgot their names) interested me much more than the final two. I found the last two lacking the fervor the former two had. But, maybe that was the point. The first two enjoyed life more than the other two. Anyway, I enjoyed your review, and if I remember correctly, I think I gave it a 3.5. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was more into Simon and Klara’s POVs as well. First of all, more happened, and secondly, we got to see much more about what they were doing and how that led to their “end”. With Daniel and Varya, I felt like a lot of pieces were missing or rushed in at the last minute. Then again, I was most confused about Klara and what exactly was going on with her. I still don’t know haha
      Thanks so much for your comment!

      Like

  2. Not gonna lie. I’ve all but ignored this book so far. The concept does sound interesting and usually with these hard-hitting books I need a rip the bandage moment. This sounds like one of those books that could use more of the telling aspect instead of just leaving things to be implied.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Some moments did hit home, but other things just confused me. I don’t know why, but it just made me feel dumb in a way, like I just wasn’t getting it … I definitely would have preferred being simply told straight up what’s happening.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve heard a few people say they were torn over this- especially because of the execution. And yeah I’ve heard the characters are unlikeable and I’ve heard someone else make that exact same comment about the pubic hair- so weird!! Great review!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The blurb makes this sound like a really interesting read. I’m not a massive reader of anything that isn’t YA fantasy or contemporary but I dunno there’s something about this that intrigues me. I may end up adding this to my TBR list but after reading your review I will be going in with slightly lower expectations. It’s a shame this wasn’t quite a emotionally impactful as you would have liked it to be, but three stars is a good rating so I feel there must have been a few positives.
    Plus I love magical realism so that you described this book as a bit of a mixture between that and reality makes me even more intrigued. 🙂
    Great review. 😀 ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Excellent review! I’ve had this book on my shelf forever, but I unhauled it just last week as the hype for it seemed to have died down. I’m still hoping to check it out someday, but I can absolutely see where this book didn’t hit its mark for you. (btw, the pubic hair thing does seem unnecessary; especially when it’s the introduction to a character. 😂)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I don’t want to discourage anyone from reading the book since it worked for a lot of people out there, but it was more of a miss for me. And as for the pubic hair, it was literally in the second sentence of the book and I feel like that was not strictly necessary at all haha

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely review, Kat! ❤ I'm sorry that this book wasn't quite you expected it to be – I have to say that, from the synopsis, it sounded like an interesting read, so that's too bad. I'm okay with unlikeable characters, but I have to have something to root for, somehow and, when I just can't, it makes the reading experience quite difficult and definitely makes it harder for me to fall in love with a book, so I get your feeling about that :/
    I hope your next read will be better! ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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