“And no matter how desperate or dire, never pray to the gods that answer after dark.”
*proceeds to publish a review no one needed because there are a ton of nuanced ones but doesn’t care because she HAS to talk about it*
I think that The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is without a doubt one of the most hyped-up books of this year… if not the most. Everyone has been gushing about it though there is a bit of criticism sprinkled here and there. Of course, I had to jump on the bandwagon and experience Addie’s story for myself.
I’m eternally grateful that I did. And I know proudly join the crowd of Addie lovers.
THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE by V.E. Schwab
Genre(s): Fantasy, Historical Fiction | Age: Adult
Published: 6 October 2020 | Read: 9 November 2020
No. of Pages: 442 (hardcover)
Click here to view Trigger Warnings ↴Death, Attempted suicide and suicidal thoughts, Depression, Violence, Drug Use, Payment for Sexual Act, Rape
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.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue follows Adeline LaRue who makes a Faustian bargain in a time of desperation… way back in 1714. She is granted immortality but is unable to be remembered by anyone. Which means she will be alone forever. She still tries to gallop through the centuries and leave a mark through art, the only way she can until someone remembers her…
“But this is how you walk to the end of the world. This is how you live forever. Here is one day, and here is the next, and the next, and you take what you can, savor every stolen second, cling to every moment until it’s gone.”
Apart from the huge (well deserved) craze surrounding it, I quickly snagged a copy of Addie LaRue because didn’t the synopsis sound thrilling? Perfectly pitched. Just by reading the synopsis, I had so many questions and could not think of how the book would flow. Would be a quest to break the curse? Would it be about her grand adventures?
Indeed, this ambiguity did loom over the beginning part of the book… after the introduction, I still had no idea in which direction the book would be going. And after a while, admittedly it did get slow and draggy. And very repetitive… the same experiences kept being used again and again just with slight twists. Which made the story rather dry at times. I would say that throughout the whole book, there isn’t a clear plot. It is simply Addie’s life. While reading the book, it was boring at times.
However, towards the later half and after the book I begin to appreciate all those slow repetitive parts. I felt that though they did nothing to entertain me, they did manage to achieve one thing spectacularly. That was, to set the tone of the book. Which allowed me to relate to Addie so much. The constant cards being played over the three hundred years and Addie’s changing reactions to them plus how they all ended similarly gave me a glimpse into Addie’s life. I could literally feel the weariness. Feel the repetitiveness. Feel the loneliness. Exactly how Addie felt it. And thus feel and understand Addie. That was just stunning.
“Now they mock her, those seven marks. Promises. Lies. She’s had no loves, she’s lived no lives, she’s met no gods, and now she is out of time.”
If you’re like me, one who enjoys a good character-driven novel, then please pick up this book because it delivers stunning characters and development of them. Addie has become a firm favourite. From young, she was taught to be brave, had the desire to explore the world and did not want to conform to society’s ideals for women. Throughout that long stretch of time, she endures so much pain and bleak desolation, shaping her into the broken woman we know at the end. And yet she chooses not to surrender, still trying to make her mark on the world through art, still possessing that fighting spirit. In the book, Addie comes to terms with so many things, discovers so much about art and the meaning of life, matures so much… she is just a wonderfully complex and inspiring character.
A theme I think everyone fell head over heels for was definitely that of art. Of books. Of music. Of paintings. I loved it too, seeing how Addie found a loophole and embraced it. Making her own little contribution to art. It really shone a light on the stories behind art. That was lovely. That aspect of the story reminded me a little of Lovely War which has a line that goes: “If music stops, and art ceases, and beauty fades, what have we then?”
“It is just a storm, he tells himself, but he is tired of looking for shelter. It is just a storm, but there is always another waiting in its wake.”
Don’t even get me started on how much I adored Henry. I won’t say much (lest I start rambling) but the juxtaposition between the characters was just flawless. And though we didn’t get as much of him, I could still deeply relate and admire this messed up young man who cared too much and is so sincere at heart. Can I also mentioned that I feel that V.E. Schwab is the master of backstories… though to some they may be cliche, I absolutely was broken by it and amazed at how it was entwined with what was happening in the past.
One thing that made Henry THE ONE for me was how V.E. Schwab tackled the topic of mental health through him. The dark themes of depression, suicide among others were a brutal punch to the gut. We have Henry who feels he is never enough, who just wants to be loved… to the point of being in a very bad state. His insecurities were so emotional to read about and I just wanted to give him a big hug. His story was one that now resides in my heart.
“Three words, large enough to tip the world. I remember you.”
And then we have the relationship between Addie and Henry. I loved the juxtaposition between the two couples… I loved the love for each other, but most of all I loved the issue of whether is was genuine or not. In the sense that Henry was the one who finally remembered Addie. Wasn’t that a big enough factor for Addie to love him? And simply love him only because of that?
“I am stronger than your god and older than your devil. I am the darkness between stars, and the roots beneath the earth. I am promise, and potential, and when it comes to playing games, I divine the rules, I set the pieces, and I choose when to play. And tonight, I say no.”
And then we have Luc. My goodness, Luc fascinated me immensely. I loved how he was so…evil. How he extends kindness just to haunt Addie. How he exploits the innate weaknesses of people. How he puts people in unchoosable situations. His relationship with Addie was so intriguing. The banter, hidden ferocity mingled with affection, how they were each other’s anchor despite having an antagonistic relationship was just priceless. Over a long period of time, with the power play… I was gripped.
“Being forgotten, she thinks, is a bit like going mad. You begin to wonder what is real, if you are real. After all, how can a thing be real if it cannot be remembered?”
This isn’t a true story, it is work of fiction. But it will be remembered. This was my first VE Schwab novel and I was blown away by her writing style. Despite my criticism of the story being slow and all, the writing style was amazing. Period. It is so gripping and engaging… I know she loves anaphora a lot but the way it was used was really impactful. And I was so pleased with how she managed to make Addie come alive, despite being in 3rd person… usually I find it easier to connect with 1st person but in this book, the writing allowed me to understand Addie so much.
Despite all the love I just poured out for this book, I have to admit, it was not a love at first chapter affair. Or even love at first part. Let me be clear, I did enjoy the story as I was reading it. But I did not love it straightaway. I mentioned earlier about how the slow plot contributed to this. But I want to elaborate more. For me, the Invisible life of Addie LaRue was a love at last part. Love after reading the book. Only after I neared the end of and completed the story did I realise how sweet and impactful this was. Only until the end did I notice all those bottled up feelings for the characters that I accumulated throughout the book. The ending was so intense and I was half shocked at myself for shedding a few tears because I was quite indifferent throughout the book.
But towards the end and after the book, the understanding of how beautiful the story was crept in and caused me to re-read many parts. the book is just so interconnected and carries so many resonant themes of art, life and love that only at the end, can you properly look back, see the big picture and appreciate it.
“What she needs are stories.
Stories are a way to preserve one’s self. To be remembered. And to forget.
Stories come in so many forms: in charcoal, and in song, in paintings, poems, films. And books.
Books, she has found, are a way to live a thousand lives—or to find strength in a very long one.”
There are obviously more refined reviews, some which are more critical, some which are more in-depth in analysing those themes but this review was just my simple love letter to this book. The writing was gorgeous and the story beautiful. I loved it so much and will recommend it for everyone who needs a good cry and connection with some complex and endearing characters.