Sometimes a book is talked about so much and with such grandiose praise that it can never live up to the hype. Even if your friends, and readers you trust have told you that you’ll like it and that it’s wonderful, you worry it will be a letdown. It may have won awards and recognitions, but there’s still a chance that the writing won’t be your style, or you won’t like the characters or *gasp* you will just outright hate it. Months before “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” was published, I heard incredible things about it. It was written about in journals and blogs and the buzz kept growing until it was released. Even today, 9 months after it was released, my library has multiple holds on it and the wait list is still long. So, when I finally started to read this book, I was nervous that it wouldn’t live up to my high expectations. As it turns out, I had nothing to be nervous about. “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” is an enchanting, heartbreaking, poignant book that I will remember for a long time.
As much as I loved the story, this was a strange book for me because I felt it was simultaneously too long in parts and yet as the story was winding up and it was reaching its conclusion, I didn’t want it to end. There were moments, passages, sentences that I wanted to savor and enjoy long after I had closed the book. And then there were sections that seemed to drag, where I wanted the pace to pick up and the action to move forward. The time spent in the 1700s seemed too long to me, especially some of the scenes with Luc that seemed to be repeats of earlier scenes, just in different times and locales but with nothing new added to the story. I would have preferred to have seen more of Addie in different times and places and to have seen the things she experienced in her 300 years (and this is what I thought the book would show more). I wanted to see her fly a plane, fight in a war, be a spy instead of hearing about it later. A few more of these adventurous things on the page and a little less of the same conversation over and over and it would have bumped this book into 5 star territory.
Henry, Henry, Henry. My love for this fictional man was something I didn’t expect when I started reading. His story was heartbreaking and I wanted to enter the pages of the book to give him a hug. At first, he came across as a typical millennial bro and I was worried. Was this the guy I was supposed to root for? But Schwab did an amazing job of taking this lonely “boy with a broken heart” and making you feel for him. Despite my love for him, his relationship with Addie was interesting because while I don’t doubt that they loved each other, was it true love? I asked myself this question while reading and it’s stayed with me even days after finishing. We, the reader are supposed to believe it is. But you know what? Even though Luc was abusive and manipulative and awful, his relationship with Addie had evolved so much that by the end, I believed he loved her in his own twisted way and Addie seemed to love him too. And they arguably had more chemistry than she had with Henry. There. I said it. I know this is probably blasphemous to a lot of the Addie/Henry shippers out there and goes against everything I would normally believe about abusive relationships, but this is a fantasy and we’re talking about a woman who doesn’t age and a demon/god. I think, in the end, this book is a love story about Luc and Addie and not Henry and Addie. What we the reader are seeing is a moment in time, one brief snippet of Addie’s long life that started with her deal to Luc and will conclude with…Luc. By the end of the book, she has admitted that she’s no longer human so she has to realize that a life with Henry is impossible. She has accepted and even begun to enjoy her immortality because of her interactions with Luc just as Luc has softened and become more human because of his interactions with her. Maybe there will be more Henry’s but there will always be only one Luc. I know some readers will be disappointed with the ending, but I liked it and felt it wrapped up the story nicely while also leaving you wondering about Addie and Henry’s futures.
This book seems to bring out strong emotions in people and even though I loved it, I can easily see why people hate it. The writing style is not for everyone and it can be long winded at times. It’s not an easy book to read and it brings up interesting and difficult questions. I enjoyed it immensely and couldn’t stop thinking about, even a week or so after I finished it and I think it would make a great read for book clubs. I highly recommend it.
“Blink, and the years fall away like leaves.”
“Listen to me. Life can feel very long sometimes, but in the end, it goes so fast. You better live a good life.”
“His heart has a draft. It lets in light. It lets in storms. It lets in everything.”
“But a life without art, without wonder, without beautiful things—she would go mad. She has gone mad.”
“Books, she has found, are a way to live a thousand lives—or to find strength in a very long one.”
“The vexing thing about time,” he says, “is that it’s never enough. Perhaps a decade too short, perhaps a moment. But a life always ends too soon.”
Author: V.E. Schwab
Published: October 6th, 2020
Rating: 4.5 Stars