The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
- Author: V.E. Schwab
- Genre: Fantasy/Romance
- Publication Date: October 6, 2020
- Publisher: Tor Books
CONTENT WARNING: violence, prostitution, substance use
“Never pray to the gods that answer after dark.”
France, 1714: In a moment of desperation, a young woman named Adeline meets a dangerous stranger and makes a terrible mistake.
As she realizes the limitations of her Faustian bargain — being able to live forever, without being able to be remembered by anyone she sees — Addie chooses to flee her small village, as everything she once held dear is torn away.
But there are still dreams to be had, and a life to live, and she is determined to find excitement and satisfaction in the wide, beckoning world — even if she will be doomed to be alone forever.
Or not quite alone — as every year, on her birthday, the alluring Luc comes to visit, checking to see if she is ready to give up her soul. Their darkly thrilling game stretches through the ages, seeing Addie witness history and fight to regain herself as she crosses oceans and tries on various lives.
It will be three hundred years before she stumbles into a hidden bookstore and discovers someone who can remember her name — and suddenly, everything changes again.
After reading and enjoying the Monsters of Verity duology, and noticing that nearly everyone was absolutely raving over this book, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book and see what all the hype was about. However, I’m about to be the conductor of the Unpopular Opinions Express, because not only did I not see what the hype was about, I actually found this book to be painfully boring.
I was shocked at this, since the premise of the story is incredibly intriguing. A woman who strikes a deal with the devil to live forever but can’t be remembered by anyone, and can’t leave her mark on the world. However, the devil underestimates Addie when he offers this deal. He thinks she just wants to escape the small life she’s destined to live, but she’s smarter than he thinks. She starts out as a feminist before feminism was a thing.
“Their daughter tried to carve her own road, but now things are being set right, a wayward life dragged back on course, propelled down its proper path.”
The writing was beautiful and lyrical and enchanting, if a little overly flowery at times. Often the story felt incredibly redundant. I heard about Addie’s seven freckles compared to a constellation and about black curls so many times that it felt like overkill. Readers seriously aren’t affected by Addie’s curse — we don’t need to be reminded of these two things on every other page, we can remember them without having to hear about them constantly.
I kept reading, waiting for something, anything to happen. If this was any other book, I would have DNF’d it, but because so many people had been praising this book, and because I had been waiting for my library to loan to arrive for so long, I seem to have developed a serious case of FOMO, so I felt obligated to reading this book in it’s entirety.
With all of this going on, I was still hopeful that something would happen to turn things around. And finally, something DID happen. Halfway through the book. But sadly, it was the only real THING that happened in the whole book. I kept waiting for a plot to appear, but it just … never materialized. The story kept jumping back in time and revealing random bits of Addie’s story, and then leaping forward to more recent times and sharing bits of Henry’s story or Addie and Henry’s present.
I was disappointed in a lot about this book. The ending was completely and utterly predictable. Also, there was an astonishing lack of diversity. While there was a little bit of bisexual representation, I found it difficult to believe that in 300 years and spending a significant amount of time in New York City, Addie has only come into contact with ONE BLACK PERSON. As a witness to over three hundred years of history, she only managed to see those events that affected white people. How did she manage to completely skip over the Civil Rights Movement? When the summary mentions that she “crosses oceans,” I didn’t realize that it only referred to the Atlantic. Because in her three centuries, she only seemed to travel around Europe and visit parts of America. I’m curious about how only Europe and America are relevant to Addie. What happened to Central America, South America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, you know, all the places where she could have expanded her horizons and learned a little more about other cultures? It all felt so Eurocentric and … Caucasian. But don’t worry — there’s some bisexual rep and a lapsed Jew and one Black friend who plays a very minor role in the story, so I guess that counts as enough diversity? It all felt like it was trying to check the box, but it didn’t quite hit the mark for me.
Overall, this was one of the most overhyped books I’ve read in a long time. I’m sure I’m in the minority, but if you want to jump on the Unpopular Opinions Express, at least there’s plenty of seats.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: One. Just one gasp. In 444 loooooooong pages.
Categories: Book Review