R E V I E W – B O O K
Ten years in the making, V.E. Schwab’s tour de force fantastic novel The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue hit the stores last October in all its starry glory. If you’re anything like the majority of readers, you’ll be compelled to buy the book owing to its spectacular cover — a scramble of seven stars in a constellation. It is a reference to the seven signature freckles on our protagonist, Addie LaRue’s face.
To add dramatic effect, I believe the synopsis is better expressed with a monologue:
Oh, to be a French girl who prayed in the woods on the eve of a forced wedding, and implored a god for freedom — one that turned out to be a devil who only answers after the dark — and they shook hands on a shrewd deal that was intended to be a wily curse; it sounds like a fortune but ends up being an immortal sting: She will live forever, but she will be forgotten by everyone she meets and has met; always slipping, like satin; sand between fingers. An eternity of switching from one place to another, never feeling quite at home anywhere, and from one person to another, leaving behind only the phantom feel of her touch, and the faint memory of seven freckles dotting her cheeks, like a scattering of stars…
Enter a boy born with a broken heart who says, “I remember you,” and it feels like a surge of rain after a drought. An apparent defect in the curse.
But, slight spoiler that everyone expects at this point in the book, of course it’s not a loophole. The boy (also cursed, by the way), Henry — a troubled, eccentric, socially anxious adult, and part-time adorable bookstore owner with a cat named Book — is depressed after his long-term girlfriend said no to his proposal. Liked by everyone, picked by none, Henry gets tired of being the one left out.
Oh, to be an average guy never getting a second glance from anyone, never chosen as the first pick, turned down by the love of his life because, in the simplest terms, he’s too ordinary, making a Faustian deal to the god that answered after the dark as he stood on the edge — heartbroken in the rain — to be “blessed” by an ability to please every single person he met only for it to turn hollow: Knowing the waitress who’s suddenly passing him her phone number wouldn’t even remember his name for two seconds two weeks ago.
Enter the only person in his life since the deal, with eyes unmarred by any illusion of the curse.
Getting to the said conniving god who answered after the dark, “Luc”. Luc is simply a personification of Addie’s imagination of her ideal friend, with dashing looks, sharp features, and an ingenious mindset. As impressive as Luc is, he doesn’t add anything remarkable to the story. He exists as the only person/god/devil who can speak Addie’s name and remember her face for centuries, so naturally, she craves his presence despite her hate for him. I felt that Luc ultimately falling for Addie and wanting to spend his immortality with her was ridiculous; it seems absurd that an entity who could create anything and curse anyone at his whim would require the companionship of a woman he hexed for eternity, and would do something he doesn’t require.
Addie suffers terribly and learns a lot of lessons as she adapts to her new nebulous identity. But it comes off as somewhat risible that she has been alive for centuries and still acts and talks like a teenager. Aside from her exploration of the world and the captivation of her experiences, you mostly sit along because she happens to be the main character.
We’re left with Henry Strauss who, oddly enough, is the most compelling. For one, he’s very relatable — even if we don’t want to correspond to someone who is pathetic at times. An average wallflower. Secondly, the middle of the book is mostly intriguing because of the unraveling plot twist in Henry’s life.
What fell short in character development was made up for by the absolute suave exploration of the worlds. We follow Addie through 18th century France, early 20th century Chicago, 2010 New York, and many more. I have read plenty of V.E. Schwab’s books and have never been disappointed by her crafty writing; The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue was no exception. She has a flair for drowning you in emotions and then wringing you dry. The way she constructs the ambience, I imagine her pen to be more of a sketch pencil.
The best part about a good fantasy book is that it involves multiple genres in one: Fiction, adventure, romance, thriller, suspense, and so on. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue was received with mixed reviews, but my opinion is that it depends on the kind of genre that appeals to you. If you’re into physics-defying, space-time-violating elements in a story with oomph, sass, fizzle, and bang, this is an absolutely wonderful book.
Definitely one of my top reads of 2020~
The writer is a part of TDA Editorial Team.