The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, by V. E. Schwab
France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.
But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.
historical fiction / fantasy
my rating: ★★★.5
The concept of this book is so deeply interesting, and the main character, so intriguing. It follows Addie Larue, a young woman who just wanted the freedom to make her own choices and who, upon being forced into a loveless marriage, makes a deal with the devil to gain that freedom she so desperately craves. Unfortunately, everything is not as she hoped and she learns that when you make deals with the darkness, you choose your words carefully. Whilst granted freedom and immortality, she is cursed to always be forgotten, a whisper unable to leave her mark on the world. Despite the loneliness, Addie refuses to surrender and give her soul up to the devil early, and eventually, finds her reward in Henry, the first person in 300 years to remember her.
This book has been so highly anticipated and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it, but I have to admit, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. My main issue is that despite the amazing concept, it lacked the exploration and depth I really wanted from it. That’s not to say the book is bad, or isn’t good, it’s just that I wanted so much more than we were given.
The book follows Addie through a dual narrative of the past and present, showing both her journey through history and her current experiences in 2014. Despite the dual narratives, the book still felt lacking, as though we were only getting glimpses of Addie’s life without really delving into it. As a character who has existed for 300 years, I wanted to fully delve into Addie’s life. I wanted to see her adapt to the changes within society, her actions during wars, the risks she had to take to survive, her journey as she tested the boundaries of her curse.
The main reason that we are unable to fully explore Addie’s life, is the introduction of the romance plot and the introduction of the love interest as a second narrator, overshadowing and limiting Addie’s story. Ironic when the message of the book is that we can remember Addie and learn her story.
If no one heard it, did it happen? If a person cannot leave a mark, do they exist?– The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, V. E. Schwab
minor spoilers below
This book gives me such Age of Adeline vibes, through both the name and concept. But whereas in Age of Adeline I loved the romance plot, here, I just didn’t care for it. Not only was that because I felt it distracted from Addie, but also because I just didn’t care about the love interest. I think the main reason I didn’t care for him was because of why he made his deal. Addie made her deal because she was being forced to marry an older man who had been widowed and who already had children, and she wanted the freedom to live her own life and make her own decisions. In contrast, Henry made his deal because his girlfriend of two-years refused his proposal. Okay, that’s slightly unfair, there were other things. But it just felt very woe-is-me in comparison to Addie’s struggles. I think what would have helped, would have been to delve more into Henry’s battle with depression, because although it’s heavily implied, it’s not fully explored. And since it’s so fleeting to see male depression in books, I just wanted more from it, and more from his character.
Despite my issues with it, overall, this was a good book that I breezed through and read in one day. I loved Addie as a main character and whilst I wish we had gotten more, I still really enjoyed the read. So if you’re thinking of picking this up, please do! But also try not to go into it with all the hopes and expectations the hype has built, because hype only makes for disappointment.
Thanks for reading,