Bleu Reviews: The Immortalists

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Rating: 4 out of 5

There was a lot of buzz about the NY Times best -selling book, The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. I’d heard tons of great reviews and recently decided to crack it open. My overall thoughts on this one was that it was interesting.

The words, Thought-Provoking come to mind which coincidentally may have been featured on the back of the book. The plot; four siblings visit a fortune teller and find out the “dates of their deaths”. 

Thoughts Have Wings. 

The prologue aptly titled, The Woman on Hester St. lays it all out for the reader to pick up. Hinting that you need to know exactly what’s about to happen so that you can follow the rest of the story. We meet the Gold children, thirteen-year-old Varya, Daniel, eleven, Klara, nine and Simon, seven. Told as if by a guardian angel watching over the Gold’s we learn of the gypsy woman and the prophecies she has for each child.

“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.” 
― Chloe BenjaminThe Immortalists

That quote was the most foreshadowing for me looking back on the story as a whole. Each Gold went into the room with the gypsy alone, each was given a different date and that date affected each child differently. However, there is never any clear indication that the prophecies were real, in fact, at least twice we can see examples of how their fates could’ve been easily avoided. Yet something in each of the siblings pulled them towards the lives they chose to live.

“And what if I change?” It seems impossible that Varya’s future is already inside her like an actress just offstage, waiting decades to leave the wings.  “Then you’d be special.’ Cause most people don’t” 

–  Chloe Benjamin, The Immortalists

The Immortalists  was a fascinatingly cerebral kind of story that forces you to ponder some of life’s most philosophical questions.Was it fate that led each Gold to their end or was it simply, the belief that things were meant to happen, that affected their realities. The destructive behaviors of each siblings seem more responsible than any fated date. Each crisis the Gold siblings found themselves in were strictly by their own design and were entirely avoidable. The recurring theme became a rather annoying race to prove the fortune teller right.

I’m still trying to reconcile O’Donoghue’s overall role. Was he cosmically linked to the Golds? Are we all cosmically linked to the random people in our lives?

***** Possible Spoilers below******

I’ve considered that maybe Eddie was the good shoulder angel in the equation. He always appeared in crucial moments offering another path. A chance for the siblings to 1b34b66af5c62296869ed3b7b20c5c227852714073979919797.jpgdo something else. He first appears in Simon’s he gives Simon a more than stern talking to but still insists he return home to NYC. He returns in Klara’s story having met her in Simon’s lifetime and falls for her. In this I saw a chance for Klara to lead another life altogether, still doing magic but perhaps not living as isolated a life, perhaps O’Donoghue being a cop would’ve saved her from herself. It seems his presence spooked her instead especially since it seemed like he was obsessed or stalking her. He weirdly becomes friends with Daniel, offering closer and a chance to move on from his grief over having introduced his siblings to the fortune teller idea in the first place.

The idea that grief is what caused each sibling to behave in the ways they did seemed liek a bit of a cop-out at times. The grief Klara felt for urging Simon to flee to San Francisco. Daniel’s grief for not being their for Simon, for not being closer to Klara. Varya’s grief over not connecting with any of them, that grief caused them to act out impulsively and in doing so it ruined them.

“If they had not lived as though life were a mad dash toward some unearned climax; if they had walked instead of fucking run” 
― Chloe BenjaminThe Immortalists

I applaud Benjamin for succesfully creating a body of work that captures a snippet of humanities obsession with mortality., or immortality depending on which angle you’re addressing. Of all the questions the children could’ve asked they each wanted to know 20180802_1906265326587727603823312.jpgthe dates of their deaths.

Knowing those dates they each took steps to achieve some form of greatness before they ran out of time. Yet as each sibling fell to their destinies, it seems hard to discern how much was actually out of their control.

Simon’s destiny was to die young, and though we can always wonder if he would’ve had a stroke or been hit by a bus we know for a fact that the lifestyle he chose to participate in. (San Francisco in the 80s for a gay male) He lived recklessly despite having every reason to find a calmer safer life. It wasn’t hard to guess that he’d be a victim of the AIDS virus, especially when introducing multiple sex partners and drugs.

Klara’s obsession with the otherworld and magic were less dangerous than her alcoholism and hallucinations. Some would even speculate that Klara was mentally ill, perhaps having a husband as a cop would’ve gotten her the help that she needed but married to fellow magician and business man gave her more pressure than she could handle. I must admit I always suspected her to fall to her death during a magic trick, to know that she ended things herself felt like cheating.

Daniel’s death also felt forced and like it didn’t belong. We start his downward spiral by having him suspended for not wanting to send unfit soldiers to their deaths and before the chapter is over he’s hunting down a gypsy, wielding a pistol and committing suicide by cop. There is no explanation for why this would’ve happened beyond it being the date he was supposed to die, yet something tells me he could’ve stayed home and seen the next day.

Varya is the only one who seems to be left standing when the book ends but her date wasn’t until 2044 and even in real life it’s only 2018, so describing a future world wouldn’t have fit within the theme of the story. Having the most time allowed Varya to got through a metaphysical death, one in which she was able to begin a new life with new possibilities unencumbered by fear which she felt far greater than her siblings.65bd58748deeff2f03312db075cb16418240064846513339096.jpg

She had been consumed by fear long before they visited the woman on Hester St. and it may have been this fear which hinted to her long life. Suffering from a mental illness of her home, she sacrificed pleasure for a chance at securing her safety. She was the only Gold who had no outward vices and she was miserable until that changed.

I like Varya’s chapter the best because it was the only chapter that showed evolution and options. Varya had started her life stagnant alive but alone, starving herself and wracked with guilt for being the last sibling standing. Yet when faced with examining her life, she rises to the occassion and chooses to make the effort to enjoy the long life she was striving for.

“It sounds like you’re saying we can choose to live. Or we can choose to survive.”
― Chloe BenjaminThe Immortalists

 

Would You Want To Know The Date of Your Death?

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on FacebookTwitterInstagramGoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

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Reading Update: The Immortalists (Varya)

20180802_1906265326587727603823312.jpgI am finally finished reading the final section of The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. Since that fateful day on Hester St. in 1969; we’ve watched the Gold children evolve from children, who’s curiosity once guided them to a Romani gypsy for answers, to adults plagued by the knowledge they’d received.

The youngest Gold; Simon, urged by elder sister Klara and fueled by his death date, ran from his home of NYC to make a name for himself in San Francisco.  Embracing his sexuality, he finds love and a hidden talent. He insists on making the most of his life, fated to die young. His curtain closes in the 80s, and he is lost to the AIDS virus.

Obsessed with the other-wold and guilt-ridden over the loss of Simon Klara begins a downward spiral full of drinking and hallucination. Though she manages to marry and have a child. She too cannot escape the damning reminder of her date and actually claims her own life to make it come true.

Eldest son, Daniel, military doctor and beloved son of the Gold family seemed determined to live past his date. Though as his time loomed closer, the knowledge that he was “meant” to die drives him mad. Agitated by what he knows and determined to bring the woman of Hester St. to justice for perceived crimes against his family, he is gunned down after assaulting the woman.

And then there was one…

Varya Gold was the only one left. She’d been born first, was fated to live the longest yet, we never really meet Varya until her own section. I’m starting to realize that this story may have always been about Varya.  Starting with the prologue told from her point of view.  We meet the woman on Hester St. through Varya’s eyes. She is the only onw who’s conversation is shared with the reader and she is also the only one who’s full date is varyarevealed in the beginning.

I’ll touch more on how the book plays out if this was always about Varya more in the actual review but for now I just wanted to mention the one thing that may have kept Varya alive longer than her siblings.

Varya had a sickness, a fear of dirt and germs. A compulsion to wash herself and to minimize physical contact with others. She enjoyed books, a means of coping with the isolation, however, even before Hester St. she’d begun to distance herself from her family afraid that death was always lurking behind the corner.

Yet of all the Gold children she, the eldest, would have the longest life. We rejoin Varya sometime after Daniel’s meltdown and death only to discover that she is lead researcher at the Drake Institute for Research on Aging.

Her siblings seemed obsessed with ensuring they lived their lives to the fullest. Varya seems determined to live.

Using Rhesus monkeys as test subjects, in a caloric restriction experiment, she is trying to prove that eating less will improve longevity.

A quandary that sparks a philosophical debate in her section.

Is it better to live a lesser life in order to live a longer one?

Up to this point the going concept has been that ‘Thoughts Have Wings’ hinting to the idea that the thought that they’d die on a certain date drove each Gold to their deaths. Varya, suffering from OCD had a preoccupation with death long before the fortune teller and her cautious life seemed to keep her alive.  Yet she’d sacrificed so much for those extra years.

antiagingVarya is also taking part in the restrictive experiment, her OCD has caused her to live alone, and she is unmarried. We discover she had a son, and placed him up for adoption as a baby. Something that comes back up in her later years.

Varya’s section is much less about her preoccupation with the woman’s prophecy and more about how far she was willing to go to save herself.  Varya’s own illness is far more foreboding than the woman’s fortune especially since it said Varya dies at the age of eighty-eight.

Varya is the only Gold to survive the story, she visits with their mother and watches as Ruby, Klara’s daughter grows into a woman. She visits Robert, Simon’s love who has moved on and found happiness surviving with the virus that claimed her brother’s life and she’s able to attend the wedding of Daniel’s ex-wife who was finally able to find peace and a new family to call her own.

Varya’s chapter ends looking towards the future as she chooses to live for the first time in her life.

 

What Do You Think Of Varya’s Section?

Let Me Know In The Comments Below!

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Mini-Obsession: The Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks Theory

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I’m a nerd. A Book Nerd and A Film Nerd and I am proud. That being said there are so many fantastically nerdy things happening around us at all times it’s hard to pin down one specific thing to focus on. However… Some wonderful people from the internet knew exactly what I needed and so they let their Nerd flags fly super high and created

The Disney Theory

The Pixar Theory

The Dream Works Theory

It started back in 2013, so far as I can tell, blogger John Negroni spent countless hours actively connecting the Pixar Cinematic Universe with the purpose of finding  a common thread. Below is what he discovered.

I was a child when Disney first started pointing out the hidden Easter Eggs they’d been leaving in their movies. I’d always assumed the Disneyverse  was interconnected, in games like Kingdom Hearts and in TV Shows like Once Upon A Time. It explained why we could find so many similarities within the worlds of other characters.  Especially the Disney Princesses which have their own theories. In fact The Disney Theory has way more movies connecting than Pixar does so I was pleased to find that there’d been an idea behind that as well.

The Disney Theory shows the evolution and progression of the world inside the Disney Universe, whereas the Disney Princess theory explains how and why all the Disney Princesses and their kingdoms are connected to other Disney movies.

The only Dreamworks theory i’d found had tons of plot holes, missed connections and seemed to be modeled closely after our buddies over at Pixar. But it spins an interesting tale of intellectually gifted animals and the obliteration of dragons. Though this may be a “mini-obsession” something tells me I’ll be looking further into these for some time.

The Pixar Theory has been made into a book as well as spawned a branded website.

 

Have You Been Reading Along?

What is Eddie’s True Role in This Story?

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

Reading Update: The Immortalists (Daniel)

img_20180425_120532_0424410834466623584749.jpgAs you all know by now, I’m reading The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. Thus far we’ve spent the last forty years keeping a close eye on the Gold children, who visited a psychic back in 1969. The Jewish siblings, let their curiosity guide them to a woman on Hester street and her prophecies sets each Gold child on a different path.

Simon discovers his sexuality, true love and a hidden talent. But his bright stars burns out with the introduction of the AIDS virus. Guilt-ridden for encouraging Simon to chase after his desires, (and therefore urging him to live his best GAY life) Klara embraces her magical talents, her grandmother’s legacy and the other world that seems to be beckoning to her. She takes her own life ensuring her prophecy comes true.

I managed to lightly skim a few GoodReads reviews and I completely disagree with whoever said the third chapter is when things get boring.

mil doc 1The chapters following the murky death of Klara Gold belong to her oldest brother Daniel, a military doctor who seems to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown. He recalls meeting his wife, their wedding day and glaze over the parts of their lives that overlapped Klara’s.

Daniel’s final days begin with a two week suspension unjustly given by a superior officer demanding he approve more soldiers for the “war” in Iraq. Daniel is committed to the service but does his best not to send anyone who isn’t medically ready.

With his free time that he never asked for Daniel finds his mind returning to the woman on Hester street. His date is fast approaching and there’s no real indicator that his time is up.gypsy

So Benjamin gives him a push in the right direction. The gentleman we meet in Simon’s chapter, Officer Eddie O’Donoghue who seems to be unluckily and inexplicably linked to each of them has arrived to give closure on a fourteen year case.

After discovering Klara’s dangling body, he’s befriended Daniel, claims to have been in love with her and gets the inclination that her death may not have been a suicide. (It so obviously was🤔)

Daniel’s revelation about the woman on Hester street finally discloses her identity to the reader. She is a Romani gypsy. Bruna Costella is not like her family and her gifts aren’t a hoax.

Daniel’s descent into madness is far more chilling than Klara’s wracked with guilt for not being more involved with his siblings he goes from respectable citizen to domestic terrorist.

Have You Been Reading Along?

What is Eddie’s True Role in This Story?

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

Reading Update: The Immortalists (Klara)

c03aacba0d4db273714ae7278d8b75a57847845150090983815.jpgI’m still reading The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. Following the demise of Simon; the youngest Gold and first to die, we enter Proteus and the magical life of Klara Gold. The youngest daughter of the Gold family, a magician who also dies pretty young.

Fated to die by the age of 31, I spent a lot of time trying to guess when specifically since it seemed pretty obvious that she was chasing the ghost of her grandmother. Klara has always been obsessed with the metaphysical, even enthusiastically agreeing to see the psychic in the first place.

After Simon’s death, Klara spirals into darkness. Her talent being squandered at dinner theaters around San Francisco. She rekindles her friendship with Raj one of the firsts people she befriended when they moved there. As the pair chase Klara’s dreams of stardom they fall in love and start a family.

Still she’s always seemed preoccupied with her grandmother, a former entertainer and circus act. Klara starts out chasing the metaphorical ghost of her grandmother and namesake, by following down the same path. This pursuit expands into a literal chasing of ghosts; believing she can communicate with Simon from beyond the grave. An obsession that may be a hallucination joined by or worsened by her drinking.

Finishing Proteus, it felt anti-climactic and murky. Obviously clarification will come with 0d28c783b66dd7ddde76fd77488fff241534858297714133199.jpgreading on but for now I’m stuck wondering. This may sound really rude or inappropriate but … did Klara kill herself? I was expecting her to plummet from the stage while performing the jaws of life.

I was a bit disappointed.

I was expecting her to die much like Houdini or Thurston since she was a magician and Benjamin felt the need to mention them. The section heavily details Klara’s alcohol abuse, I’d  assumed she’d get drunk and slip from the rope. I even considered that maybe she would get into a car accident or acquire some kind of alcohol related illness.

Instead the final pages of Proteus were chaotic as if the reader is sharing in Klara’s drunken manic thoughts. She was fated to die January 1, 1991.

Her show was set to open on that date. What I thought was a mounting excitement for the opening performance seemed to be Klara’s descent into madness.

66c4c4d1c75df30b1df8fc26360d6adc597159403258541548.jpgThe final moments of the scene seem to be the young mom and Vegas starlet’s intentional demise.

Whereas Simon’s choices may have still led him to the same path regardless of his move. It seems Klara’s end was by her own hands. Was she insane or truly in touch with the spiritual world?

Grief and guilt over Simon’s death was the root of her drinking problem. Her obsession with magic and the metaphysical more poisonous than any bottle.

Klara was able to find love and start a new generation but her focus was always on the past she couldn’t change. The father she no longer had. The brother she couldn’t save.

My biggest question from this section of the book is…Did Klara fulfill her own prophecy?

 

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Have You Been Reading Along?

Do You Think Klara Fulfilled Her Own Prophecy?

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

Reading Update: The Immortalist (Simon)

1b34b66af5c62296869ed3b7b20c5c227852714073979919797.jpgToday I finished reading the first section of The Immortalist. The whirlwind life of Simon Gold the youngest of the Gold siblings fated to die young. The beautiful ones always do… or at least I’ve heard that somewhere before.

If you’ve picked up the book then you know it’s about four siblings who’ve had there fortunes told and live with the knowledge of the day they die. Though Varya is the one who seems concerned about dying young. It is actually Simon who gets such a tragic fate.

Immediately I wondered how each of them would go. The inside flap foreshadowing each journey.

Golden boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco.

It’s either my writer brain or my reader brain. Perhaps it’s even Benjamin leaving bread crumbs for the reader but I guessed Simon’s fate from the moment they decided on San Francisco.

Simon is a young homosexual runaway living in the the Castro neighborhood of San Fran 2d1f19525441702cd93a69284811b0eb3164631543057380492.jpgin the ’80s. Amidst the disco, drugs and multiple sex partner swapping. Simon is living the stereotypical gay experience and there’s only one thing that can stop his show.

The Gay Cancer…

I’m not sure what I expected. Even though I’d guessed how the final chapters of Simon’s life would end. I’d always imagined him to have been unhappy on drugs or a prostitute. Instead, Simon was able to build a real life for himself. His job as go-go dancer at gay night club led him down a path of professional ballet dancing. He excelled and thrived and even found love with Robert, an equally talented black man.

Things seemed as though they were going perfectly yet, Simon felt the need to give in to his most base urges… in the end it claimed his life.

My only frustration was how they described the AIDS virus. It was continually referenced to as the “Gay Cancer” as if no one knee what HIV was in the 80s?

Apparently because they didn’t…

b58f40a6dcf7f6ec7bfbce743e95bdad6137996832997974872.jpgAccording to NPR and commentator Joe Wright, during 1981 and most of 1982, AIDS wasn’t called AIDS and no one knew what caused it.

What they did know was one of the first and most visible signs of the new disease was Kaposi’s Sarcoma, KS, creating purplish tumors that showed up on the skin.

The first people reportedly diagnosed with the unknown disease were gay men, so people started calling the disease Gay Cancer. 

Understanding of course that the phrase was inaccurate. Researchers found heterosexual adults and young children with the same symptoms. Research determined the underlying problem was actually immune deficiency. Still the phrasing stuck with the media and the gay community until the later part of 1982.

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Simon’s star burned bright but by 1982 the youngest Gold’s light had gone out. This at least frees Klara, who’s been working on her death defying stunts. The same exact one that killed their grandmother.

 

Have You Been Reading Along?

What Did You Think Of the Brief Life of Simon?

 

 

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Mini-Obsession: What Dates Do They Die?

c03aacba0d4db273714ae7278d8b75a57847845150090983815.jpgI’m reading The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin, I hadn’t made it past page 35 before my obsession kicked in.

They went to a soothsayer who told them the dates of their deaths. Of all the things they could’ve chosen to ask they decided on that. 🙄

They were all so shaken no one spoke of it….Until their dad died. Then we finally get to know that each sibling asked for the date of their death and each sibling was told something dramatically different.

The book provided all of Varya’s details, January 21, 2044 – age 88. Daniel the second oldest was also provided November 24, 2006 at age 48.

That’s when things become tricky, now of course I’m sure that the book will reveal exactly when and how these siblings meet their fates but having been given the first two I wanted to know the years of the others. Simon’s obviously dies in 1982 as that’s when his section ends. He dies young but that’s all we know.

Klara admits she dies at 31 though and by using her age at the time of the reading (9 in 1969) at least we know she kicks the bucket in 1991 or maybe 1990 depending on her actual birthday…🤔

This is what I worked out so far.

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What Book Are You Presently Obsessing Over?

 

 

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on FacebookTwitterInstagramGoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com