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.
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