“Books, she has found, are a way to live a thousand lives–or to find strength in a very long one.”-V.E. Schwab, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
Page count: 448
Publication Year: 2020
Rating: 5 stars
Synopsis (From GoodReads):
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.
I know I am so late in the game by just now reading this, but folks, the wait was worth it. This book was everything I have ever wanted, and more.
As you probably already know, this book follows Addie LaRue, who has made a deal with the gods of the night in order to escape a fate she doesn’t want. Now, she lives forever, but no one remembers who she is.
Until, one day, someone does.
I firmly believe that the less you know going into this book, the better it will be. I have seen a lot of people disappointed because of unmet expectations because the book was pitched as something else. There won’t be any spoilers in this review, but I think the book will be more enjoyable the less you know, so maybe proceed with caution.
This book follows the 300 years of Addie’s life, switching back and fourth between the present and the past. I was equally invested in both story lines, and didn’t feel like one was lacking something the other didn’t. Along with that, I felt like all the backstory was necessary! I thought it was so interesting to read about Addie’s desperation, why she chose to make the deal, and all the history she had lived through.
While a lot of people complain that the pacing is too slow, it didn’t bother me at all. This is a slow book, but one that I wanted to savor every moment of. V.E. Schwab’s writing is just absolutely beautiful, and there are so many lines that I just want to commit to memory. The slowness of the plot definitely helped me better appreciate the writing as I took in the story. Along with that, I did feel like everything that V.E. Schwab included in the book was necessary. So yes, it was slow, but but it worked.
As for Addie as a character, I adored her so much. I was rooting for her the entire time, and it was so heart breaking watching her give her heart to someone over and over again, just for them to forget her the moment she is out of their vision. V.E. Schwab does a great job at describing how Addie is feeling each time she goes through a loss, whether that be a loss of family, a mentor, a friend, or a lover. As a reader, you just desperately want things to get better for Addie, and wonder how she can possibly withstand 300 years of heart break over and over again.
Another aspect of this book that I loved was the addition of art that Addie inspired. V.E. Schwab begins each part of the book by describing art Addie inspired, whether it be paintings, music, or photographs. Addie is unable to make a mark on the world in anyway, and is incapable of drawing or writing her story down. Therefore, the only mark she is able to make on the world is through others. So, for the past 300 years, various artists have captured Addie through their art, making people wonder who this mysterious dream girl is. This as close to leaving an impact on the world that Addie will ever get. So much of this book surrounds the idea of art as a human expression, and it was very beautiful.
I also found the historical aspect of this book super interesting. Because Addie has lived 300 years, we follow her as she explores new countries and encounters famous historical figures. This book takes us to the French Revolution, Europe on the brink of WWI, Nazi Occupied France, 1970s New Orleans, and many other places. It was fun to see how Addie perceived all these events happening, and how she managed her way out of dangerous, life-threatening situations. I will say, I do wish the V.E. Schwab would have included some non-western settings for this book as well. There was a point in the story where Addie was telling Henry stories where she has been, places such as Portugal, England, Spain, Italy, etc. I got the sense that V.E. Schwab wanted us to see Addie as a well-traveled, cultured individual, but in reality, she had only traveled throughout Europe. It would have been a nice addition if Addie mentioned traveling to Africa or Asia as well, or if the author would have included scenes that take place in non-western culture.
The other main character of this novel was Henry, and wow, does he have my heart. Henry is a bookseller in New York City, and has always felt like he has never been enough. The reader gets an extensive backstory of Henry’s life, and while it was at first jarring to be shifted away from Addie’s story so suddenly, I quickly grew to love and care about him. While his story isn’t as heart breaking as Addie’s, it still certainly will make you feel for him. I really loved Henry and Addie’s relationship, and was rooting for them the entire time. The way V.E. Schwab described their relationship felt like pure magic, like two souls who were destined to be together. Even so, this was certainly more than just a love story, and I am happy their relationship was not the central point to the novel.
This review is really all over the place, because I am honestly struggling putting into words how much I loved this book. You have heard it before, but I am telling you again: read it. It is worth the hype, and even though it is long, it is so worth the read.
Let me know what you thought about this book in the comments below!
One thought on “Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab”
Great review! I absolutely loved this book!