There were several years where I had zero joy in reading, mostly caused from the forced nature of reading for school and the lack of knowing a good series to fall into. The two books that made me fall in love with reading again was V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven—two very different books, but both are very relevant to the discussion of this one. While I haven’t had time to check out more of Mandel’s work, I adore every book that I have read by Victoria (V.E.) Schwab (her Darker Shades of Magic and Villains series of novels are both brilliant and reinvigorated my love for the fantasy genre). So, when The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue finally hit pre-orders last year, I immediately signed up for my copy. Unfortunately, I was caught up in a lot of other books in my “To Be Read” pile, and only just got around to reading Schwab’s newest novel over the past couple of months. After finishing the book, I have to say that I am furious with myself for putting off this read for so long: this book is absolutely phenomenal.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue follows a woman named Addie who, in 1714 France, ran away from her wedding in the hopes of living a life of freedom. In order to escape, she did the one thing that she knew never to do, she prayed to a god that answers after dark. After meeting the shadow entity, Addie strikes a deal: in exchange for her soul, Addie gets to live forever, but she will never be remembered by anyone she meets. In a dance of wits between her and the god who has claim to her soul, whom she has named Luc, Addie spends centuries experiencing history and the affection from many who are destined to forget her as soon as they turn away for too long. Addie’s immortal life seems to have fallen into a groove, until, on a fateful day in 2014 New York, Addie stumbles into a bookstore and finds someone who remembers.
I love this book. When I first started reading it, I could not put it down, and the only reason I took a break from it for a while was because I did not want it to end. The way Schwab crafted this story and its characters is simply magical. I immediately fell in love with Addie and Henry, the person that remembers Addie, and I connected to these two characters on a deep level—the feeling of being invisible, forgotten, and unloved are dark thoughts that have ran through my head for years, and Addie and Henry’s plights hit my emotions hard as I engrossed myself in this book. I am not an avid reader of romance or historical fiction, but Addie LaRue‘s cross section of the two, with a little fantasy thrown in the mix, has completely blown me away.
One complaint I have seen, and one that I expected some people to have, is the way the book is not written chronologically—the book frequently skips around the 300 years of Addie’s life. I think Schwab’s decision to organize the book this way was brilliant and essential for the climatic emotional beats to land towards the end of the book because the motivations of Addie, Luc, and Henry would all lose their impact and their narrative weight if we read them chronologically. This is where The Invisible Life of Addie Larue relates to Mandel’s Station Eleven, as its story was organized and presented in a similar way. Having already been exposed to that nature of storytelling, the sequence of events in the book not only worked for me, but also thrilled me when I realized the twists in the novel that are made possible by the various time skips and what Schwab was aiming for.
While reading The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, I was obviously obsessed with the book and its back and forth with time. That said, it made me worried that a screen adaptation would never be able to work. A highly anticipated show that had an all-over-the-place timeline was Netflix’s adaptation of The Witcher, and while I thoroughly enjoyed the first season, the time skipping in the show turned a lot of the audience off of the show. It wasn’t until I saw Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of The Ten Rings, that I was convinced that Addie LaRue could work on screen, as Shang-Chi had a lot of flashback sequences that worked in a similar fashion to the way the past would be presented in this story. Overall, I am thrilled that this incredible story has been picked up for a feature film adaptation by eOne and Gerard Butler’s production company, G-Base. Hopefully, Schwab, who is diving into screenwriting the script, will be able to masterfully handle the flashbacks and time techniques she uses in the book and deliver a script equally as brilliant as her novel.
Book Review: 5/5
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