We often try to classify writing by its elemental genre, the thing at the heart of the text that drives or emotional attachment to the story. These aren’t things like “fantasy,” “science fiction,” or “slipstream”; rather, it’s mystery, adventure, wonder, horror, relationship, and the like that connect us, on a human level, to what we read.
At a first glance, Ageless seems to be a combination of mystery and wonder: we have the big “what if” of wonder— what if a person aged so slowly that they were essentially immortal?— and the puzzle-piece arrangement of our leap into the story, immediately eliciting questions of “how” that start off a mystery.
But as Ageless progresses, it becomes clear that it is a character-driven story, unfolding across generations, and dealing with fundamental questions of love and loss, and the limits of human kindness and cruelty. It is a book about relationships.
It’s a good book, and it tells its story well, jumping back and forth across time, building a picture of how one (ostensibly endless) life can touch others, and the ripple effect that flows through the years as a result. Perhaps it was the nazi experimentation, or the conflicted emotional relationships I built with the cast as I read, but Ageless made me think at length about the chance meetings that have had a lasting impact on my life, and the events of the past that inform so many pieces of my life, in ways great and subtle. I think also about the monumental, global-scale events, like the holocaust, the transistor, and atomic bomb, in whose wake all human life is altered, the ripples more like tidal waves pushing us toward the future.
The climactic moment at the end of Ageless is intended to be (I imagine,) tragic, but I felt for Alessandra in that moment. She had dealt with enough. It was time. It was tragic, yes, but there was also release.
A peculiar way to relate to a character, perhaps, but that’s the result of the theoretical exercise that is Ageless. What would it be like to be ostensibly immortal? A life punctuated by fear and loss, mistrust and bitter solitude. Death is a grand unifier. To be excluded from it, while a utopian dream on the one hand, strips one of the basic elements of basic humanity away.
Ageless a compelling adventure populated with dynamic characters, and it’s thought provoking. Books don’t get much better than that.