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)
“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
Alright. There are some books that I read and I could rant and rant about all the things I hate or love about it. It isn’t often that a book leaves me speechless. This book. This book did just that.
I honestly wasn’t sure about picking up The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. The concept didn’t particularly interest me, but then I kept seeing it on the shelves and holding it every day (I work at a book store, I don’t just visit one everyday to stare at the books) and it was calling to me. I needed to know about this invisible life of Addie LaRue. I needed to know who this girl was.
This book was the culmination of a decade of work from V.E. Schwab and is “a tale of stubborn hope and defiant joy, about how far we will go to leave a mark on a world that is intent on forgetting us.”
Addie makes a deal with Luc, a god – or devil, depending how you look at it – on the eve of her wedding. She prays for freedom – freedom from wedding vows, freedom from her family, freedom from the constraints of being a woman in 1700s France, freedom from life. In exchange for her freedom, Addie will live forever, but everyone will forget her and even her own hands will be unable to leave marks on the world around her. Her own name will catch in her throat, pencil marks will fade away, and memories will disappear on the night air. The only thing she can leave behind are ideas, but memories will fade with the setting of each sun.
Until one day, a boy with a face she once dreamed of will say “I remember you” and suddenly Addie is no longer an idea, but a memory in the eyes of someone she will come to love.
“What is a person, if not the marks they leave behind?”― V.E. Schwab, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
This story is breathtaking. Schwab brings to it a writing style that is magical, poetic, poignant, and so well developed I felt like I was living in this world and with these characters. Addie LaRue is such a diverse, multifaceted character, you can tell Schwab has been living with her in her head for ten years. I lived with her for over 400 pages and I wanted more. Addie lived for 300 years and in that life she met remarkable people, saw history, fell in love, had her heart broken, and tried her damndest to make a mark on the world. It is in ideas that she learns how to be remembered. Through art and music she can inspire people and live on as the artist’s muse, the musician’s lost love, or the writers’ character.
This book speaks to loneliness and what one will do to be remembered. What someone will do to feel loved and to not be alone. We all just want to feel seen and understood, it’s a general human need that Schwab explores with captivating ease in this book. Each of Schwab’s words are weaved together in a magical tapestry of emotion that sucked me in and spoke to me on every single page.
I didn’t particularly like Henry in comparison to Addie. I wasn’t invested in his back story as much as Addie and his character fell a bit flat. I do think Schwab did a great job of exploring mental health, specifically depression, through Henry and the questions of loneliness and how it feels to feel like the world is forgetting you.
Luc was extremely captivating. Schwab didn’t give us a lot on his backstory or who he was as a devil (god, being, demon??). His characterization is strictly through his interactions with Addie. The two of them have a very unhealthy power dynamic that is explored across the plane of 300 years. I wanted to know more about him, but at the same time liked the idea of him just being ‘the god you shouldn’t pray to at night’ with a name given to him by Addie.
I absolutely loved the ending. It wasn’t neat, it wasn’t necessarily happy, and it wasn’t what I expected. It was the exact opposite of what anyone would have wanted, but it worked.
My only complaint is that it did get a little long winded. The book isn’t driven by much external conflict, but by the pain within the character’s hearts. So, after a while it’s a lot of Addie and Henry going on a date, Addie running into Luc at some point in history, Addie and Henry going on another date, Addie running into Luc during the French Revolution, Addie and Henry…you get the point. It could have been shorter as the scenes got to be terribly repetitive.
Additionally, there is so much representation in this book. Both main characters are LGBTQ+, there’s POC side characters, exploration of mental illness (specifically depression and suicide), and ideas of life and death that are all included in the story with multiple layers and intricacies that added to the depth and magic of this book.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone and it will definitely be one of my top reads of 2020.
Have you read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue? Are you planning to? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!