I’ve been known to suffer from book FOMO on more than one occasion. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue was no exception.
Let me paint the scene: It’s autumn 2020. I’m in university, attending virtual classes and bored out of my mind. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue hits the scene on October 6th and instantly, it’s a hit. Within 24 hours, it’s on its way from Indigo to my front door.
Listen, if there are influencers, there is always an “influenced”. I am always in the latter.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue BOOK Review
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue follows Addie, an 18th-century Frenchwoman. When we meet Addie, she’s about to be married—much to her dismay. To her, marriage is the cage that restricts her from experiencing life to the fullest.
In a last-ditch effort, Addie prays to the dark gods to be released from her marriage. But her words are twisted and she finds herself bound to an immortal life where she can go anywhere and do anything… but no one will ever remember her.
In the present day, Addie is in NYC when her life truly begins for the first time in nearly 300 years.
Immediately, this beautiful story drew me in. Addie is a sad and lonely character. But who could blame her, what with all the hardships she endures as a result of her curse? Living nearly three centuries on your own is no easy feat.
But Addie is a strong, resilient woman. She’s an adventure-seeker, which is what leads her to agree to the deal in the first place. Addie wants more than what 18th-century provincial life can offer a woman of her standing.
Addie's ahead of her time, which allows her to survive the loneliness and trials she endures throughout her strange, long lifetime.
Along the way, Addie encounters some interesting characters. Of course, as she can’t be remembered by anyone, the people she meets aren’t a part of her story for long. However, one character remains a constant throughout the novel: the dark god that she makes the deal with.
The dark god is cunning; he’s dark and chaotic. He certainly shakes up the story every time he rolls into Addie’s life. If I’m being honest, I sort of love him. I have an affinity for morally grey characters. And it certainly helps that his physical manifestation reflects Addie’s innermost desires. In other words, he’s kind of a hottie!
Of course, who could leave out Henry? Henry contrasts the other characters in Addie’s life because he isn’t a dark god nor is he someone from Addie’s past, but he makes a remarkable impact on her life. Henry is a small bean that must be protected at all costs. He’s had a rough life and like Addie, harbours a lot of sadness and inner turmoil.
Like Addie, Henry searches for more out of life and lacks the sense of belonging.
I love that Addie and Henry were both bisexual characters without their sexual identity being at the core of the novel’s plot. While LGBTQ+ novels with queer identities at the forefront of the plot are amazing, I think that the lack of fuss helped to normalize it. The world needs more stories where queer characters are treated as one and the same as straight characters, whose sexual identities aren’t isolated from their being.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is a fresh and exciting story. But it’s also a deeply sad one. Yes, it was fascinating to see Addie travel through time, encountering exciting moments in history firsthand. But over the course of the novel, you see her stumble, and wither, and hurt. She clings desperately to any feeling of belonging or recognition, and in many cases, that comes from her yearly reunion with the dark god.
While seeking a life of agency and freedom, Addie inadvertently trades away her freedom, her independence, and most importantly, her name. Through V.E. Schwab’s beautiful writing, you see how much power a name carries. In some cases, your name might translate into physical or material power, as seen by the aristocracy that Addie encounters. In other cases, a name like Voltaire carries prestige, notability, and respect.
For Addie, her name is everything. At the start of the novel, she feels like nothing—insignificant, without a title or position in life.
She doesn't realize how important her name is until she loses it.
It was especially interesting to see Addie and Henry interact and watch their shared story develop. For three centuries, Addie lives virtually alone aside from the occasional fling and the dark god who lingers ominously in her world. For once, Addie has the opportunity to walk alongside someone’s story for a while; to have a part in someone else’s life. I won’t say too much about this aspect of the story because I think it’s best left to be discovered by the reader, BUT I will say that I loved it.
All in all, this was a beautiful book. It was easy to see why everyone raved about The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. I don’t think it was overhyped or overrated. The high praise of V.E. Schwab’s writing is well-earned. She’s crafted a wonderful story that feels both timeless and timely.