Book Review: “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” by V.E. Schwab (ARC)

***Thank you to Netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.***

“What is a person, if not the marks they leave behind?”

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.

October 6, 2020

This book was hands down my most anticipated release of 2020. I literally emailed Tor Publishing over and over begging for an ARC before I finally got one from Netgalley. It’s no secret that V.E. Schwab is my favorite writer. This book was guaranteed to be a slam dunk. So why wasn’t it?  

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed this book. I just didn’t connect with it as fully as I have with Shades of Magic and Villains. It could be because I had to read it on my phone. It could be because it isn’t as dark or eventful as I’d expected. I don’t know. I’d actually really like to reread it when it comes out to see if I like it better the second time.

Addie LaRue is a character study and an exploration on what it means to be a person, how “the mortifying ordeal of being known” may actually be a good thing. In fact, the more I consider these themes, the more I appreciate the book. Could I live Addie’s life? How would I handle everyone I meet forgetting me? How would such a life affect me?

I really do like the in-depth look into Addie’s changing attitude over the centuries. I like how it impacts her relationships with the only two people who remember her: the demon-god Luc and Henry. I enjoy the parallels between the two men and their treatment of Addie.

Moreover, I like these characters. I don’t love them, but I rooted for them as I read. I like the side characters as well, Henry’s friends and Addie’s lovers. I just wanted more from everyone.

I think the issue stems from the somewhat repetitive nature of the story. Each chapter trades back and forth between modern day and Addie’s history. And the chapters covering Addie over the past few centuries largely follow an unchanging pattern. It feels like nothing’s happening, which isn’t as forgivable when you’re not fully attached to the characters.

I suspect opinions on the ending will be divisive. I actually like it. Obviously I can’t say anything about it, but it’s not what you expect.

All that said, there’s some good diversity in here. Addie and Henry are both bisexual. Henry’s family is Jewish. Henry’s friend Bea is a Black lesbian and his other friend Robbie is a gay man.

As I wrote this review, I felt my overall feelings for this book waffling. As a thematic read, it’s incredible. As a character study, it’s really good. But it’s just missing that special something. Like I said, I’d be interested to see how much of my feelings are due to reading it on my phone or the amount of time I took to read it. I hope rereading it as a physical book will make me fall head over heels for it. October couldn’t come any sooner.

Non-consensual sex work, alcoholism, & a suicide attempt

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Have you read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab? What are your thoughts? Let’s discuss in the comments!

7 thoughts on “Book Review: “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” by V.E. Schwab (ARC)

  1. I’ll be reading this in a few months, but man, that’s a bummer that it didn’t quite live up to your expectations. I loved Villains, so I immediately jumped on this. I’m so curious about the character study aspect of this, so I’m looking forward to reading this. Great review.

    Liked by 1 person

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