Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue  by V.E. Schwab Genre:  Historical fantasy; romance Synopsis:   France, 1714: in a moment of despera...

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

Genre: Historical fantasy; romance

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.

Content/Trigger Warnings: Assault/abuse, self-harm/suicide/ideation, substance abuse, war/violence, sexism/misogyny, classism

Overall rating:  ★★★★☆

It’s months later and I still think about The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue all the time. The story itself is so visual and immersive that I almost feel like I lived her life myself. I remember so much of those 400+ pages. I know Scwhab’s been around for quite a while, but this was actually the first book I’ve read by her. She is an incredible writer. Her story-telling is truly fascinating and weaves the world right around the reader.

I don’t love Addie, but I was able to connect with her in some ways. I really loved the development of background Schwann provided, even if Addie’s character arc development was certainly lacking (more on that below). And while Luc is truly a devil and purely evil, his character is fascinating and one of my favorite pieces of the entire book. Obviously he’s needed for the plot to work, but even so the book wouldn’t have been as wonderful without him. I also really loved Henry’s sweet character, but in a much different way. And I hated how little I felt I got to know him. He was purely just a part of Addie’s story, but I almost even wish I had a affiliated book that was his perspective. His story is so much shorter, but I certainly felt I needed to know so much more of him to really understand his situation and his purpose a bit more.

"Déjà vu. Déjà su. Déjà vécu."

But let’s talk about the big elephant in the story - or well, not in the story. Addie’s been alive for hundred of years, traveling and making her way all around. But somehow she still manages to only focus on very Eurocentric countries, books, experiences. If people can travel to hundreds of countries in our short lifespans, surely this random white girl who lives forever can venture out of England, Paris, and the US. Right? And the only BIPOC really even included in the overarching storyline is Bea, who is an incredibly intelligent, and likely fun and interesting person, is only ever really mentioned as beautiful. And i get that because Addie can’t be remembered, it could be hard for her to really get to know someone on a deep level since they can’t form a relationship longer than a day, if that. But seriously, this entire book, over 300 years - slavery, genocide, wars, the Civil Rights movement, she lived through those things but they had no impact on her? I see that she couldn’t necessarily impact things because she and hence, her general actions, aren’t to be remembered, but she seems to be the exact same person at the end of the book that she was at the beginning. I just have a hard time recognizing that a person can live so long and not be impacted by the things around her, even if she can’t impact them in return. I don’t know. It’s just something to think about and it’s what contributed to my overall rating being less than five.

I think the target audience is certainly white, and I did very much enjoy the book. I just think it was missing some pretty critical diversity that could have been so seamlessly woven in.

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