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

book cover of The Invisible Life of Addie Larue

This was a very slow book. It was beautifully written, and every time I picked it up I enjoyed myself. But man, it was slow.

The central character of this book, Adeline LaRue, grew up in a small village in France. Still unmarried at the unfathomable age of 23, her parents decide to marry her off to an older man whose wife has just died. For Addie, the idea is unbearable. She rebels. She prays to all the “old gods” to intercede and none of them do, until she makes a mistake warned against by a wise elder woman of the village, and prays to one of the gods who only appear after dark. He grants her wish: her life will be hers and hers alone for as long as she wants to live it, but the cost is that she never be remembered by anyone.

Three hundred years pass, and then one day in Brooklyn, the unthinkable happens. She meets someone who can remember her. But why?

The whole middle section of the book, unfortunately, a bit repetitive. There are a lot of different nights out at bars and art shows, and a lot of different flashbacks that show Addie trying to outwit the devil she made her deal with (Luc), but for all this time I had no real idea where the story was going. As I said it was well-written and none of the scenes were really bad in and of themselves, it was just I had this sense of… but now what? These sequences of art shows and domestic bliss and flashbacks can’t be it? What are we building towards? There’s also a lot of indulgent gushing about the almighty power of art, which I felt was pretty cheesy.

But then the ending was truly excellent, and made me feel much better about all the book I’d slogged through. I don’t want to say too much about it so as not to spoil it for anyone. But for me, at least, it was very worth it.

I thought the characters were pretty engaging, especially the interplay between Addie and Luc. It is true that other than Luc, they mostly all “feel young”, but for me this isn’t too unbelievable. Addie herself was essentially frozen in time at the age of 23, and hasn’t exactly had a normal life since then to develop her character. Her love interest, Henry, is a few years older but is basically one of those twenty-somethings who hasn’t worked out what he wants to do with his life, which is far from a rarity in today’s world. At any rate, while I wouldn’t call this young adult, it is arguable that it isn’t straight “adult fiction” either. If I had to, I’d probably class it as “new adult” fiction – something with the most appeal for those twenty-somethings who are still trying to work out adult life (although I definitely wouldn’t say its audience is limited to those people).

Overall this book might not be to everyone’s taste, but for me it was an enjoyable read. I’d probably have rated it a star less if the ending hadn’t impressed me so much, though.

★★★★

photo of Jessica Smith is a left-wing feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also very interested in linguistics, history, technology and society.