I have mixed views on The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E Schwab.
The concept and story is so intriguing, yet I wasn’t entirely sold on it.
As always I’m not going to give away any major spoilers in this review so fear not, you can read on.
In 1714 Addie LaRue dreams of adventure. She wants to get out of her tiny French village, and she certainly doesn’t want to be forced to marry.
In a moment of desperation, aged 23, she makes a bargain with a devil-like God (Luc) to live forever.
What Addie doesn’t realise is that actually it’s more of curse. She’s doomed to walk the earth alone, she’ll be forgotten by every person she ever meets, left unable to say her own name or leave any kind of mark.
“What is a person, if not the marks they leave behind?” V.E Schwab
300 years later in New York, a chance encounter with Henry in a book shop changes everything when he utters three words….“I remember you”.
As Addie negotiates her new, lonely, life, she becomes more and more determined to leave her mark on the world.
I loved the idea of this book, yet, I only really enjoyed the second half of it.
This book felt really long and drawn out in places, it could have gotten to the point much, much quicker because there were parts where my interest waned, and Addie’s story started to lose me a bit.
There are two different timelines, there’s Addie’s history through her previous 300 years as she battles loneliness, has repeated encounters with Luc and slowly learns how to deal with her new existence. That runs alongside the present-day story when she meets Henry which inevitably means at some point there’s going to be a confrontation with Luc (the devil go).
It’s beautifully written, I could picture Villon and the places Addie visited during the early years of her new life. Schwab builds and paints Addie’s world wonderfully, the hardships she faced as she tried find ways to bend her curse to leave a mark.
I loved how she managed to use ideas to ensure there was a piece of her that would be remembered whether that be through art or music; she could get other people to create her lasting legacy, even though they couldn’t remember where the idea had come from.
“The first mark she left upon the world, long before she knew the truth, that ideas are so much wilder than memories, that they long and look for ways of taking root” V.E. Schwab
Yet still, through all this something was missing.
It’s Addie telling the story and at times she’s pretty difficult to like and it starts to feel repetitive when she’s recounting where she’s been, who she’s met and her arguments with Luc, particularly in the first half of the book.
After a hundred years I was beyond frustrated with the fact that she was still in bloody France; I mean this is a woman who has swapped everything to live forever, yet it doesn’t dawn on her to leave the country?
I could see how some of the chapters from Addie’s past were going pan out and that started to bother me. I needed a bit more excitement from her past, more adventure, more variation, it felt to narrow a view for someone who’d lived 300 years.
It’s these reasons that stopped me from being completely sold.
But then, I found myself gripped as the novel moved towards it’s conclusion.
I wanted a happy ending for Addie and Henry though I could not see how that was going to happen. I wanted to know what would happen when Luc discovered them, and I couldn’t stop reading, it was almost as if a switch had been flipped as the pace picked up.
It’s ultimately a story about consequences for Addie and Henry, both who are lonely, both are desperate, both are struggling to understand their place in the world and feeling as though they don’t fit anywhere. She feels like ghost (well she kind of is I guess) whereas he feels completely worthless, he never feels as though he’s enough.
I loved the ending of this book; it was satisfying and ultimately, I’m glad I persevered.
There’ll be people who love this book and those who hate it, for me it was more a story of two halves – one that was boring in places and could have been executed better and one that I couldn’t put down.
Have you read Addie LaRue? I’d live to know what you thought of it in the comments 🙂
Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm