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.
I’ve struggled for a while with how to review this one because while I did enjoy it quite a lot it also failed to live up to the hype for me which ultimately left me feeling just a tad disappointed.
On its surface this book has a lot of things that are in my wheelhouse – immortal beings, romance, a little bit of darkness to the tale. But those elements together weren’t enough for me because I had a hard time with a) the prose — which kind of felt a bit pretentious if I’m being honest and b) the structure of the book. Now, here’s the thing, I don’t mind flashbacks! I don’t mind them at all. But when it’s every few pages you’re bouncing back and forth it causes a bit of whiplash. I actually did enjoy all the little vignettes of flashbacks and I totally loved the individual things they highlighted as well as the emotions they evoked. On their own I think they would have made for an interesting short if some of them have been strung together. Interspersed with the modern day storyline, the way they kept on interrupting the narrative, was a little annoying. Sometimes I can get over this and eventually I did get used to this structure, so I’m not quite sure why it left me so annoyed. Maybe because along with the prose it just felt like the author was trying too hard. And that feels like a really harsh thing to say and I know that’s probably not what happened here (I really do love Schwab) but…that’s just how I felt while reading it.
Luckily, those were my two major criticisms and now that I got those out of the way we can talk about what I loved. What I loved–the character of Addie. I just absolutely loved how stubborn she is, every time she’s confronted with something that might make her give in, she just digs her heels in even further. She’s committed to this wish she made, even if it’s not exactly what she envisaged, she’s not about to give it up and let someone else win. Because what’s presented here is a battle over Addie’s soul. There’s a great question about not only identity but owning that identity. Addie may be invisible but she’s found her way to make a mark on the world nonetheless. Henry is an interesting character as well, although I feel like he paled in comparison to Addie and her shine. Addie is like a force of nature, a beacon of light, and Henry is drawn to her like so many others. Although, for Addie, Henry is that beacon. While you’re learning about Henry what eventually comes out is her further history with Luc, the immortal entity that granted her wish. I don’t really get this character of Luc. On the one hand I do love him because hot immortal with a darkness (literally), hell yes sign me up. On the other hand he is just as capricious as you’d expect him to be. And don’t ever expect him to be anything different. Addie’s relationship with him was one of the more intriguing parts of the story.
I don’t want to say too much else and give away too many things, but at the end of the story I’m not quite sure what to think about it. Did Addie grow? Maybe. But she’s still, if nothing else, relentlessly stubborn. And maybe it’s the determination that will see her through to where ever she decides to go in life. 3.5/5 stars.
33 thoughts on “Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab”
Interesting, so far I have seen nothing but praise for this book and yours is the first lukewarm review I’ve read! I’m not a huge fan of Schwab, I have only read her Darker Shades of Magic trilogy and I found it very meh (great concept, poor execution). I will probably give a try to this book at some point but I will lower my expectations! 🙂
Yeah, I’ve seen nothing but praise as well and perhaps it set my expectations a little too high? Not sure. I did like her Darker Shades of Magic when I was reading them but I’ll be honest–I don’t remember a ton of the details a couple years after having read them. So I don’t know what that says about the books or maybe me as a reader LOL. If you try this I hope you enjoy it!
I have to agree with Maryam there, all I’ve heard about this book were good things, and it hyped it up a lot for me, and that’s probably why I’ve been avoiding reading this, because I tend to not like the books that the majority likes about as much and that disappoints me. Thank you so much for pointing out the nuances in the book! I’ll keep those in mind when I finally pick it up (◕‿◕)♡
I think part of it for me may have been that my expectations were so high that I was more disappointed than normal when I didn’t automatically fall in love with it. I still did like the book, just not as much as I thought I would. I hope that you enjoy it when you get to it.
The hype machine is so dangerous, right? Sorry this didn’t quite work for you. I ended up loving Luc way more than Henry, for some reason, which surprised me.
Oh I did like Luc more than Henry, immortal asshole is apparently my type. But also I was a bit disappointed in how things played out between Addie and him. Idk. I’m so sad that I didn’t love this one as much as almost every single other reader lol. 😭😭
Hey it happens! I always feel bad when I don’t love a ‘beloved” book too.
Yep! Same, lol.
I am starting this one tonight. I have the audiobook and I have been so looking forward to reading it. There have been a lot of positive reviews but I’ve seen quite a few who say it just missed the mark for them so I am not sure what to expect and I am not going into it with too high expectations because I don’t think I could bear the disappointment!
Oh maybe it will have a different feel to it in audio. I hope you enjoy it! I wish I had loved it more and I’m a bit sad that it didn’t live up to expectations for me.
It just happens sometimes though. I just finished The Thursday Murder Club and it didn’t do it for me despite everyone else I know having loved it. It’s awful to be the one with unpopular opinion I think lol x
Yeah, you’re right on both accounts lol.
I love your review! This book didn’t live up to the hype for me either.
Phew! I’m not the only one.
I did a part of this book in audio, so that might have helped with the flow of the flashbacks, but I do kind of get the pretentious part, lol! This is just how I feel but it might be because I think of her as a YA author first and foremost, and when she writes adult, I also get the “trying too hard” vibe. I ended up chalked it up to my personal bias though, so I did end up giving this one 5 stars because I loved it, but your criticisms are totally valid and I agree to a large degree!
Yeah, I think this is a book that probably would have worked much better as an audiobook for me.
But yes! Exactly! It was still a good book–I’m disappointed I didn’t love it as much as I wanted to though. 🙂
This was so interesting to read, because I’ve seen such glowing reviews of this one haha! I tried reading one of the author’s previous books, Vicious, and for some reason the prose just didn’t sit right with me. In retrospect, I agree with how you phrased it, it definitely felt pretentious. I love the concepts of her books, but I definitely will go into this one with my expectations lowered. Fantastic review!💜
I still want to read Vicious! I have only read her Shades of Magic series (I think it’s called that) and I liked them at the time but I’ll be honest–I don’t remember much about them! I wish I would have liked this more. I feel like an outlier on this one haha. 🙂
Ahh, I hope you enjoy Vicious! I’ll have to give her Shades of Magic series a chance, the concept of different Londons is too intriguing not to.
Yeah, it was interesting! I’d like to reread them.
While the positive reviews I’ve read so far about this one piqued my curiosity, your sentence about “trying too hard” sounds a small alarm bell: if nothing else I will try to keep my expectations under control once I pick this one up… 😉
Thanks for sharing!
Yeah, I think part of my problem is that my expectations were so high and it made my disappointment feel even greater. I hope you enjoy it!
Yeah, Mogsy said it. I loved this but then I totally get where you’re coming from. Funny how some books grab some of us some of the time. I think as well for me, it probably helped that I’ve not read schwab before so I had nothing to compare it to and in fact went into the read with low expectations if anything. That hype machine.
Yeah I do think part of it was that my expectations were so high. Ah well. I’m glad you loved it!
I had only seen glowing reviews of this, and had absolutely loved the Monsters of Verity series. However, this book completely fell flat for me, and I felt like the only person who didn’t like this book. I gave this 2 stars, and really struggled with so much of this book – the slow pace, the way nothing ever seemed to happen, the stunning lack of diversity, the endlessly flowery prose, and the near constant reminders of Addie’s freckles. I couldn’t wait to finish reading and just be done with this. It was extremely overhyped for me, and it’s a relief to see that other people felt so too.
Oh yes, the freckles. lol
I feel like for me there was so much I wanted to roll my eyes at. I can see why other people liked it but it just didn’t work as much for me. I did still like it but I just didn’t *love* it and the things that annoyed me *really* annoyed me haha.
I really didn’t like it at all lol 😬
Totally valid lol
Oh my gosh! That’s what I feared — that it wouldn’t live up to the hype. That’s why I’ve been avoiding it. I think I’ll continue to wait until the paperback is out. Although, I think I too will be annoyed by the flashbacks seeming to interrupt the narrative.
The flashbacks are worse in the beginning than at the end but other than that there were things about the writing that just didn’t work as well for me. It’s a shame because I was so excited for this one! Maybe one day I’ll reread it and like it better.
Oof, the hype is so insane for this book and while I love Schwab, I’m also quite scared that I’ll struggle to connect with this one. I’ve obviously seen mostly positive reviews but others I’ve seen mentioned the same issues you had… So I’ll defo be keeping that in mind going into it. I hope I’m wrong and end up super lovin’ this though! Lol. Great review!
I do hope that you enjoy it when you get to it! I think I let my expectations get the better of me with this one. Ah well.