*PLEASE NOTE: This review does not adequately discuss the lack of representation and diversity within this novel, and for that I apologise. For a review that does acknowledge the lack of diversity and representation, I recommend THIS one, written by Aentee over at readatmidnight. Because I’m white, my review does not properly highlight the damaging amount of exclusion of BIPOC in this book. I acknowledge that I have a lot of privilege to be in a position where I do not think twice about being represented in media, so I deeply apologise for overlooking it. I will absolutely learn from this mistake, and do better to continue educating myself and continue to critically analyse mass media.
A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.
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*
* Review from Goodreads
Title: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
Author: V.E. Schwab
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Adult, Romance, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal,
Age Range: Adult
Trigger Warnings: Death, Demons, Attempted Suicide, Substance Abuse, Sexual Assault, Depression
Like most readers, I was highly anticipating The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue to be one of my favourite books of 2020. Despite it falling short of my list, it was still an enjoyable read. From the alternating timelines and the band of characters we meet, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is set to leave a mark on the reader once you finish the last page.
The novel follows our title character, Addie LaRue, and her life after selling her soul to the devil for more time. The cost of this? Being forgotten by every person she meets – until she meets Henry. Addie is a curious, headstrong young woman who goes through a lot of character development over the course of the novel. She starts as a model daughter for life in the 1700s, obeying her parents and respecting their wishes, until she refuses to marry a man she does not love. We watch Addie progress through decades, leaving her impression on people and art, always remaining but never remembered. Her relationships with men and women alike are interesting to read about, but ultimately get repetitive as the novel goes on. I didn’t find myself truly connecting to Addie. Annoyingly, I can’t for the life of me tell you why.
Our other main character, Henry, deserves the world. As the only employee of a bookshop, he is ambitious and positive and feels he is running out of time. We learn more about his backstory in the second half of the book, which is the part I found most enjoyable. We learn his struggles, and we see him overcome the darkest parts in his life. He just wants to be loved, and I couldn’t help but love him. He, alongside the bookshop’s resident cat, Book, were the highlights of the novel.
As for Luc, oh – how frustrating he was to read about. He is petty, dislikeable and arrogant, but what can you expect from the Devil? His relationship with Addie progresses throughout the novel, going in a direction that I strongly disliked, which also didn’t feel natural at all. I understand and acknowledge that this was purposeful, because you really shouldn’t like a character who is the literal Devil, but being frustrating to the point of wanting to skip the parts of the novel he appears in was a problem for me.
“What is a person, if not the marks they leave behind?”
The atmosphere of the book is one of the reasons why it excels. V.E. Schawb has a way of writing that is so magical and beautiful it transports the reader to the places within the pages. Often, I felt as if I were walking through a tiny village in France, or perusing the rainy streets of New York alongside Addie. The descriptive and lyrical writing style leaves the reader turning page after page late into the evening, just to experience what Addie experiences. However, that factor alone wasn’t enough for me to remain gripped and entranced in the story.
The plot in this novel is almost non-existent. The first half of it is simply reading about Addie’s life up until the point we meet Henry, which is nice, but often drags from lack of exciting content. I understand that it was done this way so that the reader feels connected to the 300 years Addie has lived, and that we understand her struggle of being so alone, but I feel as if it didn’t have to go on for as long as it did. It was nice, and interesting, for the first couple of chapters, but after that it felt pointless. That being said, even when the plot did pick up, it wasn’t enough for my personal taste. There was the odd plot twist and big reveal sprinkled into an otherwise slow novel. Perhaps this just supports my theory that I am a plot-driven reader, as opposed to a character-driven one.
“But isn’t it wonderful,” she says, “to be an idea?”
Another one of this novel’s setbacks was the length. While I am a fan of long novels, 448 pages seemed almost too long for the content that was in the novel. As stated before, it began to drag in places, which made it almost hard to keep going in order to get to the satisfying parts. For example, some of the highlights of the novel were the flashbacks to Addie’s life throughout the decades, and yet, some of them felt unnecessary. They were enjoyable and interesting, but chapter after chapter of the same thing (she meets someone, gets forgotten, meets them again etc etc) it almost feels too repetitive to be enjoyable.
All in all, this novel was fine: I think I just had far too high expectations for it. The ending was satisfying and sad; leaving me crying like an absolute baby for 20 minutes. While I can see why it’s people’s favourite book of the year, and instant favourite for them, it fell slightly flat for my personal taste. That being said, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is a magical and atmospheric read, perfect for a rainy day, but ultimately left me slightly underwhelmed.
About the Author:
Victoria “V.E.” Schwab is the #1 NYT, USA, and Indie bestselling author of more than a dozen books, including Vicious, the Shades of Magic series, and This Savage Song. Her work has received critical acclaim, been featured by EW and The New York Times, been translated into more than a dozen languages, and been optioned for TV and Film. The Independent calls her the “natural successor to Diana Wynne Jones” and touts her “enviable, almost Gaimanesque ability to switch between styles, genres, and tones.”
She is represented by Holly Root at Root Literary and Jon Cassir at CAA. All appearance and publicity inquiries should be directed to her PR rep, Kristin Dwyer, at: firstname.lastname@example.org