- Sophia King
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
It is 1714 in the small village of Villon, France when suddenly, Adeline LaRue’s chance for adventure gets put on hold when she’s forced into a life she does not want. In a moment of desperation and panic, Addie makes a terrible mistake by agreeing to a dangerous stranger’s alluring deal. As she realizes the limitations and trappings of her Faustian bargain–– being able to live forever and freely, without being able to be remembered by anyone who sees her–– she sets out to revel in the world’s joys after everything she once held dear is torn away in a cruel twist.
Despite being doomed to live alone forever, Addie is determined to experience all of the world’s innovations and explore to her heart’s content as she crosses oceans and witnesses history. Well, not entirely alone, as Luc, the stranger who intended to cause her undoing, visits her every year on her birthday, waiting for her to surrender this solitary lifestyle and end their thrillingly dark game that stretches ages (or that stretches until Addie stumbles across a snug bookstore and, after three hundred years, meets Henry Strauss, the only person who can remember her name). In a climax of love and broken promises, once again, everything changes.
Review (SPOILERS AHEAD!):
I found this book to be “lovely,” to put it simply. It was not necessarily thrilling or electrifying nor was it terrible or bad by any means. It was overall just “sweet.” Although the end is disputably tear-inducing, albeit being annoyingly incomplete and slightly unnecessary, the pace of the book is similar to that of a “slow-burn” or one of those dramatic movies that take unnecessarily long to get to its climax. V.E. Schwab’s writing is unarguably beautiful, and the number of haunting quotes that she fills the book with is staggering. But, the romance between Henry and Addie could have been improved.
Henry is supposedly the shy bookworm who has an insatiable need for approval and attention, sort of like a puppy. Addie, on the other hand, has had to suffer three hundred years alone and rely on her own independence to survive amidst wars and revolutions. Addie is a brave, outgoing inspiration for several artists and musicians throughout history, and even though she states how she is always “tired” of being alone and surviving at all costs, she reminds everyone again and again of the joys of being free to see, explore and experience. Personally, this was my favorite part; her yearning to be remembered, her cleverness in making her own imprints in art since memories fade but ideas do not, and seeing them all put together with notes about her signature seven freckles and dark hair is magical to me. Reading the stories that went along with the creations gives readers the sweeping feeling of what it would be like to be remembered in such a visceral and concrete way, almost as though the readers themselves are witnessing history and seeing the impact centuries later all within a few pages.
Therefore, giving up this power in ideas and freedom for Henry just seems unrealistic especially when one puts the lovers side by side and compares Henry’s timidness to Addie’s boldness or his constant desperation to be loved to Addie’s comfortability in independence. Although it could be said that “opposites attract,” I find that Addie and Henry are not really opposites since that would imply that Henry is her equal in some ways, when in actuality, itseems as though he depends on her while she does not need him. And most definitely, V.E. Schwab should have explored more of the darkness himself, Luc. Even though she gave us a few tidbits of the character and his exploration of humans, his relationship with Addie would have been much more thrilling than her meager attraction to Henry. Addie herself states how her feelings towards Henry are comfortable and warm but by no means is it passionate. Luc, on the other hand, challenges her and acts as more of her equal. She pushes him to be less arrogant and temperamental, and even surprises him, despite his godlike divinity of sorts. Even though he was the ultimate cause for her curse and he does eventually seek to win her soul, he, in turn, dares her to delve in to and relish in all the world has to offer.
Overall, V.E. Schwab’s writing was exquisite, enchanting and hauntingly beautiful, but the storyline could have been better explored and ameliorated into a story that was more than just entertaining.
Books Like This:
THE REGRETS BY AMY BONNAFFONS
Reality and dream collide in Amy Bonnaffons's "dazzling," wildly inventive "miracle of a love story" about an affair between the living and the dead (NPR).
For weeks, Rachel has been noticing the same golden-haired, young man sitting at her Brooklyn bus stop, where he stares off with a melancholy air. When one day she finally musters the courage to introduce herself, the chemistry between them is undeniable: Thomas is wise, witty, handsome, mysterious, clearly a kindred spirit. There's just one tiny problem: He's dead.
Stuck in a surreal limbo governed by bureaucracy, Thomas is unable to "cross over" to the afterlife until he completes a 90-day stint on earth, during which time he is forbidden to get involved with a member of the living -- lest he incur "regrets." When Thomas and Rachel break this rule, they unleash a cascade of bizarre, troubling consequences.
Set in the hallucinatory borderland between life and death, The Regrets is a gloriously strange and breathtakingly exploration of love, the cataclysmic power of fantasies, and the painful, exhilarating work of waking up to reality, told with uncommon grace and humor by a visionary artist at the height of her imaginative power.
THE GRAVEYARD BOOK BY NEIL GAIMAN
Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a perfectly normal boy. Well, he would be perfectly normal if he didn't live in a graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the world of the dead.
There are dangers and adventures for Bod in the graveyard: the strange and terrible menace of the Sleer, a gravestone entrance to a desert that leads to the city of ghouls, friendship with a witch and so much more.
But it is in the land of the living that real danger lurks, for it is there that the man Jack lives and he has already killed Bod's family.
THE CRUEL PRINCE BY HOLLY BLACK (SERIES)
Of course, I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.
Jude was seven when her parents were murdered, and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.
To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.
As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.
REBECCA BY DAPHNE DU MAURIER
On a trip to the South of France, the shy heroine of Rebecca falls in love with Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower. Although his proposal comes as a surprise, she happily agrees to marry him. But as they arrive at her husband's home, Manderley, a change comes over Maxim, and the young bride is filled with dread. Friendless in the isolated mansion, she realizes that she barely knows him. In every corner of every room is the phantom of his beautiful first wife, Rebecca, and the new Mrs de Winter walks in her shadow.