Reviews

Eternal Life, by Dara Horn

tessagoth's review against another edition

Go to review page

4.0

As a teenager, our protagonist makes a vow to save her baby's life. The cost is steep: she cannot die. This is a beautiful, philosophical story that dives into what it would be like if you couldn't die but everyone you brought into the world would.

wordnerdy's review

Go to review page

5.0

http://wordnerdy.blogspot.com/2017/11/2017-book-192.html

A new Dara Horn book is always an eagerly anticipated event for a Jewish nerd such as myself, and this one did not at all disappoint. Our protagonist is a woman who has lived many lifetimes—2000 years worth of them, in fact—and is reluctant to leave her current family behind—even though one of her granddaughters is a scientist working with gene therapies. And meanwhile, one other immortal person exists—a guy who has been obsessed with her for these same 2000 years. I found her story to be amazingly compelling (and of course loved the depiction of ancient Judaism) and such a fascinating look at motherhood, and I loved the way things concluded. I was less interested in the weird/toxic romantic relationship dynamics on display, but on the whole thought this was excellent. A/A-.

__
A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in January.

findyourgoldenhour's review

Go to review page

4.0

What a beautifully original novel! If you like your historical fiction to also be philosophical explorations on the meaning of life, then this is the book for you. And by "historical fiction" I mean first century CE. In the acknowledgements, the author says the historical portions of the book are drawn from Talmudic sources on the first-century sage Yochanan ben Zakkai (a character in this novel), on the Jewish revolt at against Rome, and on the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 CE. So it goes waaay back in time, and includes some Jewish mysticism. I've never read anything like it.

The main character Rachel finds herself in ancient times with a dying child, and she does what any parent does in that situation: she bargains with God. She promises to give her life in order to save her son. And she does sacrifice her life, but instead of dying, the bargain with God keeps her from dying, forever. She is forced to live hundreds of lives, loving and losing husbands and children, over and over again. We meet her in the present day as an 84-year-old grandmother in New York. She watches her children and grandchildren obsessing over their own mortality, and she desperately wishes she could die. Not in the ways we usually see in an elderly grandmother, because she is old and in pain and is ready to say goodbye after a life well lived. But because she knows all too well what it really means to live forever, and she just can't take it anymore.

No one wants to die. No one wants to grow old, only to watch their loved ones die. We want to delay losing our loved ones for as long as we can. Of course we do. And yet. Reading this book makes you realize there is a natural order to things: the younger generations will and should continue to be born. The older generations will and should eventually leave to make room for them. Reading this book also puts your tiny short lifespan in perspective; even if you live to be 100, you are here for a blink of an eye, for a mere snapshot of human history. And I loved Rachel's perspective as a parent, and her impatience with her children; yes, all older generations look at how kids are doing things these days and shake their heads, but I loved how the author could play with the span of time and really give perspective. There really is nothing new under the sun, just new people doing it.

I wanted this book to be longer, to explore the characters more deeply. I'm grateful to have found this author, and I plan to read her other books.

elanarebitzer's review

Go to review page

adventurous emotional inspiring reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

allison_claire_chang's review

Go to review page

emotional informative reflective sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.25

dianecarroll's review against another edition

Go to review page

4.0

Story of a woman and her husband who live forever, how that affects them. V interesting concept & realistic treatment (they have kids but they outlive them, etc)

shelf_reflect10n's review

Go to review page

dark mysterious reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

phonetic's review

Go to review page

medium-paced

4.25

montigneyrules's review against another edition

Go to review page

1.0

#readingchallenge2020 (my book title that has opposites) (bit of a stretch)

There is an appeal; if one cannot die. Exploring the Earth, re-inventing yourself, re-creating your life, forever trying new things, never worrying about wasting time. Maybe I’d teach History, maybe I’d become an Anthropologist exploring cultures-narrative lives…there is an appeal…except when the person living forever is Rachel, ugh please die.

Rachel doesn’t “LIVE” for 2000+years, she meanders about having children & learning about motherhood, but we never really hear about that

Much of the book was an attempt to just relay Jewish History by weakly inserting Rachel into events, without really describing the history or her life during them, shallow surface, “what am I reading about?”

Unlikeable, unambitious, 2000+years & she learned nothing, 256 pages & it is like I read nothing.

jamiethelibrarian's review

Go to review page

3.0

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I find stories about immortality fascinating. This one provided an interesting twist with the main character's ability to grow old and then regenerate to her 18 year old body again. I would have given it four stars, but I thought the ending could have been better.