Even if you are just a casual listener of the podcast, you would know that I am the biggest Chloe Gong fangirl there is (the proof is in the Chloe shelf, which is sorely in need of updating). So it should surprise absolutely no one that I was able to find myself in possession of an advanced copy of her adult debut, Immortal Longings.
Five years ago, Princess Calla Tuoleimi murdered her parents in cold blood. The kingdom was told that she died trying to escape, but she has just been biding her time, waiting until her false name is selected for the king’s games. The victor of the games gets face time with the reclusive King Kasa and it is her best opportunity to finish what she started and end the royal line. Calla forges an uneasy alliance with both her cousin (and heir to the throne) August Shenzhi, who wants Calla to accomplish her goal, and exiled aristocrat (and her fiercest competitor) Anton Makusa, who has his own reasons for wanting to win the games. As it gets closer to the end of the games, Calla and Anton find their priorities shifting and must make an important decision. Because only one of them can walk out of the games alive.
Chloe Gong captivates yet again as she makes her adult debut. This story is imaginative, intriguing, and kept me on my toes throughout. The world building is easy to follow along with and even the exceptions to the rules are clearly explained without feeling like an overabundance of exposition. The characters were complex and multidimensional, some even surprising me with shocking reveals later in the book.
With a cast of characters that stole my heart and a setting that places them all in constant danger, I was absolutely entranced as I read. I did not want to put this book down and I wanted to scream any time my reading was interrupted. As I got closer to the end, I got really anxious because storylines were starting to be resolved, but I knew there was something to come - this is the first in a trilogy after all!
And yet again, Chloe Gong had me finishing a book and yelling WHAT?! as if I didn’t expect to be blown away and left wanting more. She’s making a habit of ripping my heart out and throwing in twists that legitimately shock me - and I am a chaotic enough person to then turn around and say, “can I have some more please?”
This book has been repeatedly pitched as “what if Clove and Cato were the protagonists of The Hunger Games except it was directed by Wong Kar-Wai” and it absolutely delivers. In addition to the major Hunger Games vibes throughout (and being the Marvel girlie that I am), the twin cities of San-Er gave off Madripoor vibes to the point where I could picture my beloved Bucky Barnes alongside his new bestie Sam Wilson walking the streets and trying to avoid the chaos of the games. The vibes, the atmosphere, the angst...this entire reading experience let me disappear from the real world for a little while and I absolutely cannot wait to read the rest of the series.
Immortal Longings is the first book in the Flesh and False Gods trilogy as well as Chloe Gong’s adult debut. It hits shelves on July 18, 2023 and you can preorder a copy here. If you’re a book collector (read: hoarder) like me, maybe I can interest you in an exclusive edition from Indigo or signed exclusive editions from Barnes & Noble and Waterstones instead (or as well)!
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will be supporting indie bookstores as well! If you prefer Amazon, visit my Amazon storefront and click on the list titled "2023 Book Recommendations."