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‘The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue’: a fun and simple read

If you’re like me, when you open TikTok the first posts you will see are from BookTok. A very popular subsection, fans of reading meet with their reading lists, reviews and reactions for books old and new. BookTok has now overflowed into bookstores, with the trending stories online now mirrored by book sellers. Topping the charts recently has been The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab.

A wonderfully curated playlist to make you feel like you’re in the story, made by a fan of the book

Adeline LaRue was born in France during the 1700’s and belongs to no one. A free-spirited young girl, she runs away from an unwanted wedding and accidentally makes a deal with the darkness. In return for being free no one will ever remember her. She cannot make a physical impression and as soon as she is out of sight, she will been forgotten. Adeline makes her way through 300 years of this, until she meets Henry Strauss in New York during 2014. Against all odds, he remembers her.

When I bought this book, I was expecting to be blown away. I definitely enjoyed the story, though I am not sure if it lives up to the BookTok hype. It is a large book, both physically and length wise, and I’m not sure if it needs to be. It also costs more in stores, with most books of a similar genre being around $20 and this book generally costing $32.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue on a bookshelf in front of other books

The constant hopping between past and present is interesting, building up Addie’s history, though it did get a little overwhelming at times. There are only so many times that the reader can change perspectives between people and historical contexts before they get confused.

A recurring theme throughout the book is Addie’s struggles with being remembered, something she became used to. However she didn’t know how much she needed to be remembered until she met Henry.

The only constant in her life is her relationship with the darkness, which in itself is unpredictable and unreliable. Instead with Henry she feels at peace. She can stay in one place, she can hold on to items, she has someone to tell her life story to. I enjoyed the development of Addie’s character as she struggles with the reality of her decision, and how she relates to Henry because of it.

Adeline is a nice character, she is easy to like and empathise with. She’s had to do things during her life that she didn’t want to and she’s gotten creative with how to mentally survive. She has compromised parts of herself but has managed to stay intact. Her relationship with Luc, the darkness she sold her soul to, engages the reader as she tries to trick him and hold on to her own victories. I quite liked Adeline, and the journey she goes on as she discovers the limit of her deal and her own mind.

“And this is what she’s settled on: she can go without food (she will not wither). She can go without heat (the cold will not kill her). But a life without art, without wonder, without beautiful things – she would go mad. She has gone mad.

What she needs are stories.

Stories are a way to preserve one’s self. To be remembered. And to forget.”

‘The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue’ by V. E. Shwab

Schwab brings Addie to life as she struggles with her decision, and her stubborn nature to not let the fateful deal she made interfere with the benefits of living forever.

She is strong and independent, an enduring theme throughout the story. She grows in confidence and learns many things over her lifetime. She learns other languages, ways to keep her influence alive throughout history, and how to read.

I really enjoyed the character of Addie; she is quite inspirational to me as she endures alone as a woman throughout history, being told over and over again that she doesn’t belong.

Male and female sitting on the floor in front of a sunset
Image by Khamkeo Vilaysing from Unsplash

I loved the relationship between Henry and Addie. I enjoyed living through them, Addie telling Henry that he is enough and Henry showing Addie new experiences. They work together to tell Addie’s life story, which speaks to their chemistry.

They compliment each other well, both being tricked by the darkness to live out their time in ways they didn’t want, and in finding joy through each other. I find that it was easy to like them, easy to fall into their relationship.

“Small places make for small lives. And some people are fine with that. They like knowing where to put their feet. But if you only walk in other people’s steps, you cannot make your own way. You cannot leave a mark.”

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

Overall, I would give The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue three and a half out of five. The story is good, easy to follow and has enjoyable characters. My issue is that the hype given to this book by BookTok took away from my own enjoyment. I think the story is simple, interesting but simple. It doesn’t quite show enough imagination. There is not enough that stands out to me to set it apart from other great books I’ve read. With this is mind it is still a good read if you’re looking for something light and fun.

Photo by Yasemin Rogers