The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab
I read it as a(n): hardback
Length: 444 pp
Her Grace’s rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars
Adeline “Addie” LaRue, a young woman in 1714 rural France, is being forced to marry. Only she does not want to marry, not this guy and not anyone else for now. In desperation, she begs and makes a deal with one of the Old Gods for more time. It helps to be specific when asking for things from genies or Old Gods because Addie is now immortal. The price of her immortality is that she can leave no mark upon the world. She can’t write, make art, not even say her own name. Everyone instantly forgets her as soon as she leaves their sight. Except one day, about 300 years later, one person doesn’t forget her.
I think the premise of this novel was awesome. I’m sure everyone, at one point or another, has wondered what it would be like to live forever. Personally, I would hate it unless my daughter was immortal along with me. Kind of like heaven. Why the fuck would anyone want to go there and be stuck for all eternity with people you don’t like, or not to be able to help someone you love if you see them in trouble, or not to see loved ones ever again if they didn’t win a ticket to the cloud house? Pass, thanks.
Anyway, the premise was interesting and I think there are a ton of fascinating ways the novel could have gone. Unfortunately, nothing of the sort happened.
Addie would have seen amazing things in her long life, yet she herself was not at all interesting. I thought she was boring AF. I’d forget her instantly, too. She had 300 years and all she did was travel to the same handful of places, learn a few all-Western languages, and bitch and moan about things. She could have visited the entire world, learned languages that weren’t some variation of a romance language, maybe even found a way to be an anonymous yet generous benefactor in some way to kids or a starving artist or something, despite her inability to leave a mark on the world. She could have chosen to remember some major historic events from an eyewitness POV. French Revolution? That was interesting. American Revolution? Yeah, Washington wasn’t as tall as people think. The Civil War and subsequent Jim Crow era, the Japanese surrender in 1945, the launch of the first Sputnik rockets, the Tiananmen Square Massacre, the politics of the Belgian Congo, the Rwandan Genocide. SO MANY things she could have seen and discussed. Instead, she wanders around stealing books and thinking incessantly about herself.
Henry was equally forgettable. He was a bland, boring man, though honest kudos to Schwab for trying to have a discussion about depression through his character. We need open and frank talks about mental health and any genuine attempt to do so is worthy of praise. But maybe make him interesting while also talking about depression. He just kind of wandered through the story and had no real purpose except to be the person who remembers Addie.
Luc, the Old God sort of creature who Addie made her Faustian deal with, was physically sexy. But there the interest ended. We are supposed to believe he is some kind of god but he has a weird fetish with Addie? With making her suffer because he has nothing better to do? He didn’t even torment her to give readers any sort of character development. And then he and Addie end up together? After all that? OMG Stockholm Syndrome much? She wanted more time and not to have to be with anybody forever and then she ends up with Luc? Schwab sets up the plot for a sequel, but I was too bored and irritated by this to ever bother with a sequel.
I have seen the writing described as beautiful, amazing, vivid, and so on. I wonder if I was reading the same book. Yes, there were some parts that were very nicely detailed and described. But there was also a LOT of repetition. If it was supposed to be vivid or whatever, I feel it missed the mark. If it was to subtly underscore the repetitive and boring nature of eternal life, then well done, mission accomplished.
TL;DR version: Self-centered
forgettable immortal woman thinks constantly about herself while stealing books, traveling to the same handful of places, learning a few Western-only languages, not witnessing many historical events or, apparently, meeting anyone who isn’t white until 2014. Wave off this one if you’re on the fence about reading it. So yeah, unpopular opinion, I guess. But I didn’t think this one was at all worth the hype.