Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue has an audacious tagline, something about a girl you won’t remember and a story you won’t forget. There is a half-truth in that otherwise misleading piece of marketing matter – I truly do remember little about Addie LaRue. I read this book over six months ago, and the only time I stop to think about it is when I read other reviews or see posts about it. Otherwise, I mostly forget I read it at all.

This book tells the story of (you guessed it) Addie LaRue, who makes a Faustian deal with the devil that she would live forever, but everyone who meets her will forget all about her. Except for (dun, dun, DUN) the boy who can’t forget her.

His name was probably Henry. Yeah, that sounds right. (Or was his name Harry?) A bland name for a bland character. Luc was the devil’s name – oh, how apropos – and there was a transgender character shoe-horned in for no reason other than to try to tick a box for diversity in an otherwise white-washed book.

When I, captain of all things negative, am thinking about books I’ve finished that I couldn’t stand, I frequently forget about The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. Not because it doesn’t deserve to make it on my list of shit books or anything, just because it was so unremarkable. It spans a woman’s life, a woman who essentially has superpowers, through two incredibly rich and eventful eras in history, French or otherwise. WHY. WHY. WHY did Schwab decide not to include any of her activities during either World War or the plethora of European wars that occurred during the set time frame? I was looking forward to how amazing her story would’ve been if she’d been a spy, ducking behind enemy lines and risking her life and limb for something greater than herself. (If you want to read good books along those lines, try All The Light We Cannot See and The Nightingale)

This book is exceptionally popular. Maybe it’s because Addie herself is so boring. Her character is easy to remove and replace with the fictionalized versions of ourselves we carry with us always. We can vicariously be mysterious, wanted, simultaneously forgettable and unforgettable, yet altogether irresistible. All these things that Addie was, and why? Because she had seven freckles? (If you haven’t read this book yet, buckle up: Schwab recounts these seven freckles about every seven pages) She was a textbook Mary Sue.

I’ve seen a few other of Schawb’s books floating around, but I don’t think I’ll be picking another one up. The writing was okay, though nothing to write home about. The characterization was poor, and the plot was basically fetal. It needed a lot more gestation to get to where it could align with the quality of the novel’s concept – the one thing I thought that was okay about this book.

It’s not The Once and Future Witches bad. It’s about It Ends With Us bad. Either way, I definitely don’t recommend The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue.

Dates read: August 1-10, 2021

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