Who Wants To Live Forever?: Reviewing The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Hi everyone! I know it has been way too long since I’ve posted last. I’m trying not to neglect this blog but life happens sometimes and, unfortunately, that prevents me from reading. Anyways, I wanted to talk about a novel that I went in knowing nothing about and only picked up because I heard good reviews. Sometimes, you never know what you’re going to find. I will now tell you about Chloe Benjamin’s The Immortalists. 

In the summer of 1969, Daniel Gold heard rumors of a woman in his apartment building who could predict the future. Eager to know his fate, he convinces his three siblings to come with him and they each learned what day they would die on. Over the next fifty years, the Gold siblings must deal with this information. The youngest, Simon, runs away to San Francisco with no direction. Klara studies to become a magician, dreaming that she may defy death. Daniel struggles to maintain his career as an Army doctor. The oldest, Varya, studies longevity. As the lives of the Gold siblings unfold, each must learn what it means to live forever and what to do when you know on what day your life will end.

Like I said, I picked up this book with no real expectations and I have to say that I was impressed by what I read. Benjamin’s writing has a surreal and almost magical feeling while the plot itself is very much steeped in reality. The characters are very well fleshed out and dynamic in their own ways. The story does span a large amount of time but Benjamin dedicates plenty of time and detail to each story without making it feel as though it’s dragging on. The novel is part love story, part family drama, part mystery, and part tragedy. Benjamin does an excellent job testing the idea of fate versus free will without getting overly philosophical. There’s still plenty of philosophy but it is woven into the story lines. The Immortalists certainly surprised me in all of the best ways and I would definitely recommend this book to anyone.

Counting Stars, Cars,and Prime Numbers: Reviewing The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon

Since Thanksgiving is approaching soon, I decided that I wanted to tell you all something I’m thankful for. I’m thankful that we live in a world where more and more people are getting the representation that they deserve in the media. Mark Haddon’s novel is one example. This is the last book I have to read for my YA Literature class and I was surprised by how much this novel sucked me in. I will now tell you my thoughts about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. 

Christopher John Francis Boone sees the world differently than everyone else. He can count all the prime numbers, he knows all the capitals of every country, and he wants to be an astronaut. He has a hard time connecting to people but loves dogs. When his neighbor’s dog is found dead, Christopher decides to take the case into his own hands like his favorite detective, Sherlock Holmes. Soon, Christopher finds more secrets than he bargained for as he explores the world in his own unique way.

What I really enjoyed in particular about this novel is the authentic voice. The narrator, Christopher, has Asperger’s and has a particular way of viewing the world that makes you, as the reader, think more about how other people see things. I can’t speak for everyone but, in my experience, I have known people on the autism spectrum who are a lot like Christopher. Haddon creates a moving and heart-wrenching story that has poignancy and warmth. I found that I couldn’t put this book down. The voice feels so authentic in this day where things like autism are easily misunderstood. I recommend this book for anyone looking for such a unique narration and I hope it gives you some understanding of what the world is like for those whose minds work differently.

For you, A thousand times over: Reviewing The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

I’ve mentioned this book before in tags and gushed about it. Thanks to a book sale at one of my local libraries, I was able to acquire a copy of the novel. I wish I had just bought when I had to read it for a class but now I have it. Now, I will tell you in detail about The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

Amir and Hassan were just two boys running wild in Kabul, Afghanistan. Despite the fact that Amir comes from an upper class and Hassan is servant, the two form a deep bond that seems to withstand everything. Everything changes, however, when the Soviets occupy Afghanistan and Amir flees the country with his father, never to see Hassan again. While living in America as an adult, Amir receives news that a family friend is ill. Now, he must return and face his past and come to terms with what fates that he and Hassan have been dealt.

Hosseini’s poignant novel follows the span of Amir’s life as he reflects on his whirlwind of a life in Kabul, Afghanistan. With moving themes about family, loyalty, childhood, religion and acceptance, The Kite Runner is a moving story that deals with these in a graceful manner. The subject matter does get intense and violent at times but it does not deter from the overall touching message of the novel. The first person narrative feels as though Amir is sitting their, telling you the story directly as he sorts out his past. The Kite Runner is a profound novel that takes the reader on an emotional journey from a childhood in Afghanistan to an adulthood of acceptance.

A New Kind of Ghost Story: Reviewing Rooms by Lauren Oliver

Ever since I was young, I have found ghost stories fascinating. No matter how far fetched they are, I still want to hear them. After a while, though, they begin to sound similar and the tropes wear out. Hollywood is still continuing to wring out as many horror movies focused on ghosts. The “creepypasta” phenomenon has swept through the Internet in a swift and it is hard to find something unique. Lauren Oliver, the author of the Delirium trilogy and Before I Fall, offers a fresh take on the idea of a ghost story. The ghosts, in this case, are not malevolent but sarcastic and friendly, while the living are the ones dealing with problems much darker than any haunted house.

Rooms is told from the perspective of two of the previous owners of the small ranch house in which the story takes place. Alice, the first deceased owner of the house, is as quiet and reserved in death as she was in life while Sandra, the second deceased former owner, is opinionated, stubborn, and talkative. Together, the two inhabit the house and reflect on their lives and deaths. When the current owner of the house dies, the two ghosts watch with anticipation as the estranged family comes back to deal with his death.   Secrets are revealed and relationships are further strained. The tension of the family drama and the backstories of Sandra and Alice make for an emotional and haunting (pun intended) read.

I love this particular novel for its unique story telling and intriguing characters. The tone offers a refreshing mix of realism and surrealism. It is definitely far from a horror story but more of a family drama. The story lines of the living and the dead are wonderfully interconnected through Oliver’s carefully thought out narratives. This novel provides chills and will keep you turning the pages in anticipation. Lauren Oliver’s Rooms is a unique, dark, and beautiful ghost story.