Or: I’ve Never Wanted To Read a Book In French So Bad and a Friendly Warning That I’m Completely Biased In Favor Of This Book
Title: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
Author: V. E. Schwab
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, LGBTQ Fiction
Page Count: 444
Buy: Redux Society
Rating: Fiva outta Five
Content Warnings: grief, loneliness, fear of being forgotten, graphic violence, sexual assalut, PTSD, trauma, panic attacks, romanticization of alcohol and drug use, depcitions of death, mass death, illness, references to dying, emotional manipulation.
*This is a spoiler-free review! Enjoy!*
“What is a person if not the marks they leave behind?”
This book is Faust meets your worst fears of being forgotten; meets perpetual coffeeshop vibes; meets the excitement of doing as you please; meets Home Alone: Lost In New York; meets connecting with people but never staying; meets the ache of wanting connection; meets heartbreaking passive dread; meets the desire to leave a mark on the world; meets the pain of watching someone forget you; meets the worst genie ever; meets Let’s Make a Deal; meets repeating your story so you don't lose it; meets becoming aware of what we take for granted; meets a walking perpetual yelp reviewer; meets the thrill of finding and searching; meets a bookstore cat that prefers poetry; meets the glorious pain of existing; meets Missed Connections; meets loving and losing love no matter your sexuality; meets historical fiction; meets Les Misérables; meets never being enough until you are; meets the reminder that despite the pain and struggle there are so many reasons to live; meets listening to a stranger share their life story; meets hellos and goodbyes; meets being too sensitive; meets the absolute joy of someone knowing you; meets the desperation of capturing every minute you’re alive.
As I’ve already warned you in my stupidly long subtitle to this blog - I loved this book.
In a flourish of bookish writing magic, Schwab has made me absolutely nostalgic for places and time periods I’ve never been to and for people I’ve never met. Nostalgia is one of the best descriptors for this novel. At a door-stopper length of over 400 pages, this novel is stuffed cover to cover with luxuriously descriptive text. Unlike other fantasy authors however, Schwab approaches her narrative like poetry, not like a Tolkien-esk description-heavy tome. For me, this made me want to underline every single sentence, with almost every line I read having the possibility of being its own standalone story. My enthusiasm for this writing style might be its downfall for other readers, however. At one point I likened reading the text of this narrative to swimming in honey - very sweet, sticky, and thick. And maybe impossible for some people to get through. If you don’t like flowery language, this might not be the book for you.
“Books, she has found, are a way to live a thousand lives - or to find strength in a very long one.”
While this story is technically both a fantasy and a historical fiction - we’re thrown from past to present throughout the book (something to note if you dislike time-travel novels) - the messages ultimately relayed through the narrative are timeless and nothing if not completely real and relatable. Addie’s story reminds us of what we take for granted every single day - things like having someone remember your voice, your face, your name, your everything. And these things we take for granted are ultimately what makes us feel alive. When we are remembered, we move forward - we leave a mark on the world. The protagonist of this tale doesn’t have the luxury of being conventionally remembered. She does her best to leave a legacy in whatever way she can which makes for an interesting set of twists and turns that incorporate all types of artistic mediums. In her inability to be remembered and her desperate attempts leave a story behind, we as a reader can see how the essence of humanity is captured in her story - the desire to leave a mark on the world and make a connection with someone else.
I could probably write a thesis on this book and how wonderful I think it is - it’s shot up to my ATTT (All Time Top Ten) on a first read and I don’t think it’s going anywhere. BUT, I will acknowledge that it is not a book for everyone mostly due to its narrative style. If you are willing to try something new or enjoy a bit of poetic language now and again, know that this story also has a dark and handsome bad guy, a sweet and adorable good guy, and a cat in a bookstore. Why wouldn’t you want to read it?
“But it is a lonely thing, to be forgotten. To remember when no one else does.”
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue isn’t a happy novel. In fact, the ending is a bit predictable and very sad. It won’t leave you with a happily ever after, but it will leave you thinking. It will leave you full. It will leave you knowing you are remembered and it will remind you that there is life out there to live and your own story to tell.
I give this book five out of five freckles.
Have you read something today? You should.
Until our next story,