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

Publisher: Tor Books
Page Count
: 448

I wanted to love this book and yet, I did not. It’s not fair to you to just say that and nothing more, so, I am going to try my very best to explain my conflicted feelings about the book. However, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue might be a book best explored with as little knowledge as possible beforehand, therefore proceed with caution from here on out (although I will try not to spoil anything!!).

“The old gods may be great, but they are neither kind nor merciful. They are fickle, unsteady as moonlight on water, or shadows in a storm. If you insist on calling them, take heed: be careful what you ask for, be willing to pay the price. And no matter how desperate or dire, never pray to the gods that answer after dark.”

Addie does not wish to lead the life people expect her to. In many ways I understand her and I understand just how trapped she felt. Having said that, she was also told in no uncertain terms and more than once that making a deal after dark was dangerous (as showcased with the quote above). But what does Addie do? She makes a deal regardless and then faults the darkness for the cruel terms.
I am not saying that the darkness is kind or good, but throughout the story, I often felt more inclined to side with them instead of Addie. There are rules to magic and it always, always, always comes at a costly price. So, while I felt empathetic towards the dire and heartbreaking circumstances Addie found herself in, I was not so willing to shirk her of all responsibilities here.

“The first mark she left upon the world, long before she knew the truth, that ideas are so much wilder than memories, that they long and look for ways of taking root”

Now, what does Addie do with the life ahead of her? She is unable to leave a mark in the traditional way, but there would still be a whole world to see out there. Traveling just to see different cultures and places though is not in any way a pursuit of hers. Instead she turns to artists and tries to make herself memorable through other means. She calls herself a muse and maybe that’s true, but did the artists peak because of her? Did she jumpstart their careers? The answer is maybe, but I do not really know.

One of my major issues with this book was that I did not really care until the 30% mark of the story. That is a very long time to just go on a ride with someone you are not very attached to. After that, however, Addie’s story was not just hers but also one of many others and it increased the pace immensely for me. I did not really know what Addie’s goal was, but the moment she met Henry, the story got a bit more direction.

“I remember you.” Three words, large enough to tip the world.”

Henry tipped the scales of the story. He was kind and sweet and felt the world to his core. When storms swept over him, I wanted to hold him and make him feel better. I understood why Addie would be drawn to him, regardless of the unique circumstances their encounter entailed. But those two held on to each other like they were life rafts on a stormy sea and it got too deep too fast. Still, I understood the why of it all, I just also knew this was unlikely to last forever. Strangely, their progression felt natural anyway, but it also didn’t make me feel utterly surprised at certain twists and turns.

“Because happiness is brief, and history is lasting, and in the end, everyone wants to be remembered.”

This book claimed to be in honor of all the women time had forgotten, but, despite that claim almost all the people Addie mentions through history, or at least the ones who were most noteworthy (according to her story?) weremen. I was wrecking my brain and thinking about who all Addie mentioned, but except for two women and a single sentence here and there, I just could only remember men and that irked me. Being a patron of the arts, being a part of so many historical events, there must have been more.
In general, Addie lived through so much history and yet it feels like she did not really change through it. She would certainly say she had grown less naive and that is true, but she was still stubborn to a fault. I would never fault her for doing the things she did, because they were necessary for survival, but sometimes I also felt like she made it harder than necessary on herself.

“And there in the dark, he asks if it was really worth it.
Were the instants of joy worth the stretches of sorrow?
Were the moments of beauty worth the year of pain?
And she turns her head, and looks at him, and says ‘Always.”

In the end, Schwab still knows how to weave a story. The prose is always engaging and beautiful. The ending was fantastic and in my heart, definitely 100% memorable. In that regard, the story was worth it and satisfying. But the way I found myself more drawn to Luc instead of Addie or Henry, the way I would have loved to be swallowed up by darkness and lead a life with ever changing green eyes looking back at me, I doubted my sanity a little bit. I don’t think I was always rooting for the right people and that has made me feel off about the whole thing.

On a final note … Addie is short for Adeline and throughout this whole book, I could not stop thinking of The Age of Adaline. I am very much aware that Schwab worked on this story for years and that they are not alike, but both involve more or less immortal women and bookish handsome men and … my brain would not stop going there.

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! While I do feel Addie has imprinted herself in my memory, but it wasn’t all I had hoped for.

Have you read Addie LaRue’s story? Do you want to? What would you want to be remembered for?