The Invisible Life Of Addie LaRue is a book that belongs to everyone and no one because it doesn’t comfortably fit into any one genre. V.E. Schwab combines elements of fantasy, historical fiction, contemporary, romance, and even the supernatural in her newest adult release. I, for one, was looking forward to this story because mysterious gods making deals in the night is my idea of a good time. I’ve previously read both an adult and young adult title from Schwab’s library of work. Each experience was vastly different but neither rocked my world. Although my expectations for this story were tempered, I find myself reverently bowing to whatever forces are at work here. I made no promises to the gods, old or new, but I was spellbound by The Invisible Life Of Addie LaRue. Our main character Adeline is a dreamer grasping at freedom in a small village in 1714 France. As you can imagine, a place like this only fosters short, traditional, and simple lives. After 23 years of fighting conformity, Adeline is forced to marry a widowed man in town. Desperation propels her to run into the woods the night of her wedding and beg the gods to save her. The darkness answers Adeline’s pleas and makes a deal. While this magical contract grants her freedom and immortality, Adeline will never be remembered by anyone she meets. Her own name catches in her throat when she speaks and any mark she leaves is undone. The quaint existence of Adeline is destroyed, and so begins the long life of Addie LaRue, her entanglement with a powerful god, and an unexpected encounter with someone who actually remembers her.
Addie LaRue immediately stands out due to Schwab’s gorgeous prose. Disregard all your previous experiences, good or bad, with her work because the writing in this story is next level. Sentences were strung together like a constellation of stars, with accounts of Addie’s joy shining bright against her oppressive loneliness. Each moment was detailed with captivating and poignant descriptions. Schwab artfully captures the time in space that Addie occupies and the fleeting impressions she makes on the world. I was both haunted and mesmerized by the events unfolding around me.
Much like Schwab’s Vicious, Mademoiselle LaRue’s life story is a balancing act between the past and present until the timelines converge. The nonlinear narrative approach is crucial to the plot’s revelations, and the extra work at the front of the book is paid off majorly in the latter half. The story can be repetitive, forever jumping between Addie’s old memories with the deity and the present day where she’s discovered that someone remembers her. I love the mix of stylistic foreshadowing and payoff between the alternating chapters, but I anticipate that some readers may become bored with the back-and-forth plot.
The true beauty of this story lies in Schwab’s ability to capture the human experience within a supernatural setting. Addie was flawed and real and crafted so brilliantly. She exuded an elderly weariness, but she was also naive since her relationships never lasted longer than a day. She was 300 years old and still relatable. I was engrossed in her existence, unable to determine where her emotions began and mine ended. It’s nearly impossible to separate yourself from the story when Schwab easily taps into our most basic sense of self, dreams, desires, and the innate will to survive.
There is only one issue with this book in my eyes. The rapid-fire conclusion was not fitting for the time I devoted to the tale. The plot’s climax and resulting actions quickly unravel within the last 60 or so pages. I didn’t sign up to read 400 pages of seemingly random moments of Addie’s life without any indication of their purpose, to have it all revealed in the last 60 pages. Schwab refusing to show her hand until the last possible second dampened the joy that I felt for most of the book. The ending was also a disservice to the deity, who is by far the most interesting character. I greedily read the small interactions he had with Addie. At the end, the complexities of this god are revealed in full, and I was robbed of his development for hundreds of pages. I very much love morally grey characters, and while I selfishly wanted more of this devious deity, the ending couldn’t have been more perfect. There are twists and turns that will totally knock you off your feet. It just left me wanting more.
I’m half-joking when I say you should prepare yourself for an existential crisis when reading The Invisible Life Of Addie LaRue. This woman is centuries old with no one but a fickle god to remember her, yet she can’t stop loving life. You will question what’s important and what it means to live, all while riding the roller coaster emotions of a nameless girl starting over each day anew. It sounds terrifying, but it’s actually quite liberating. I have Schwab to thank for a fresh perspective on life. In the end, I like to think Addie bested the gods because her story is one I will never forget.
Rating: The Invisible Life Of Addie LaRue – 8.5/10