Review | The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

Title: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

Published: October 6, 2020

Genre(s): Fiction, romance, historical, fantasy

Read as: US hardcover, OwlCrate edition

Rating: 3

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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. (Goodreads)

“Do not mistake this kindness. I simply want to be the one who breaks you.”

Over the years, my enjoyment of Schwab’s books has been very hit or miss. The first one I picked up was A Darker Shade of Magic when I had first started out blogging at Literary Weaponry and thought it sounded like a fun romp. While I ended up adoring Shades of Magic, since then nothing of hers has really pulled at me the same way.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is no exception.

We all know the hype that built up around this title prior to it’s release and no one hyped it more than Schwab herself saying it was the story of her heart and a book she could be remembered for. It was featured in many blog posts, booktube, and any media outlet that talked about books. The hype was real and I was swept up in the wave.

However, my experience with this title didn’t end up being so much sunshine and roses. Lets start with some positives, shall we? The writing itself, as always with Schwab, is phenomenal. She manages to spark a great balance with descriptions giving us just enough information to make things clear without going overboard and boring us to death. The ebb and flow of this story pulls the reader along in a very readable procession, encouraging each muttering of, “…just one more page.”

The overarching plot is also nothing short of brilliant. A girl, destined to live forever but to be remembered by no one she meets. It is both heart breaking and fascinating. During the course of the book we jump back and forth between Addie’s past and her present until the two strains collide and it was great fun to go on that adventure. The historical settings are clear and it is easy to visualize the story as it occurs. As I said, I cannot fault Schwab’s writing and her ability to pull me into a story.

Sadly, as interesting as the plot was, the characters themselves let the story down. Addie was, in a word, dry. She was a very predictable character romping through lifetimes at times feeling sorry for herself and at others indulging in whatever the era had to offer. Time did not offer her intelligence and insight, merely more clever ways to be selfish.

As for the demon/devil, Luc, that cursed her that we are to perceive as the “big bad,” well, he also left a lot to be desired. He came off as also selfish, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but shallowly so. For a devil that had all of time to witness and interact with humankind he did not seem to understand them or even have much of a thought in his head outside of manipulating Addie. Of all of the billions of people on Earth he spent a great deal of time obsessing over just this one. For having all of time to observe humans he hadn’t seemed to have learned much. Singularly focused characters can sometimes be interesting to read if they are presented well but I just don’t feel that Luc was worth more than a footnote on a page.

Something that I think was satisfying was the conclusion of the book. I don’t want to give spoilers but the story doesn’t end how you would expect and I, being a vindictive and heartless soul, found the end gratifying.

Overall, this book was of course well written, I would expect nothing less from Schwab. However, it wasn’t a rewarding read. It didn’t fill that, “I need a good story,” void. To me, the plot was interesting but the shallow characters let down what could have been a masterpiece. Is this book worth a read? Absolutely. Is it worth a reread? Decidedly not.

2 thoughts on “Review | The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

  1. Good review, thanks for the honesty doesn’t sound like one I’ll read now. I think the “person who lives forever” is always an interesting idea in theory but I’m not sure any storytellers have really pulled it off. They always seem to focus on the loneliness aspect, which is rather obvious (and important) but out living so many people would have a much greater impact on a character than that. It would be interesting to read more how it shapes their worldview (having seen so much) you’d think they’d have a very very unique perspective since they wouldn’t be limited to a century, their problem solving approaches should be more unique. (An example I think of is Dr. Who, for having lived for so long he still seems to approach problems the same way as most people…)

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