Alright! Here you go! My 4th favorite book that I read in 2020. I was going to put this out in the beginning of the month, so here we go. I LOVED this book. So much. I had two book clubs about this book. It was so much fun. I hope anyone who has been on the fence for reading it, goes ahead and does so. It is worth it, IMO.
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
The Invisible Life of Addie La’Rue by V.E. Schwab
Synopsis From The Book
A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.
France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever―and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.
But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.
Fantasy | A – PW |Talk of War, Depression | Isolation, Memory, Identity and the Importance of Being Remembered, Love, Control
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
I have major hype for this book. Which I haven’t really had in a while. A book that was super hyped for me. As such we are about to see me probably freak out about book, like I haven’t for a while. Of course, you won’t get this book review until after book club and there is always a chance my initial reaction changes.
Still for now! I’m hypeeee
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
And here is the crux of it. I put this book down and I thought that was it. One of the things that I hope that I have made clear is that I don’t put books down. Not unless it is something that has to be put down and read slowly because it cannot be read in one sitting. However I will have you know that pretty much anything is capable of being read in one sitting, or at least most things that I have tried. I have put down books and picked them up the next day. The issue is, that once I go from one day skipped, a week is skipped, and then a month. And I grow to loathe because it means that I will have to force myself to read. No matter how good the book is.
I read half of this book in one day. I put it down for a week. And then I thought that was it. I had to read it for book club but each day I dreaded it more and more to read it. Until I had to. I would open it up like a treasure box and peer inside, read part way through and then close it again like I’ve broken some taboo (and I haven’t because I read endings close to when I read the beginnings? So this can’t be breaking a rule for me and its not). So I did. And instead of hating it, I fell into it again.
I will not lie. Falling into this book scared me. It was like dreaming a familiar dream that I already knew and when I started again, the same passion I had before when I read it the first time. I loved this book thoroughly and completely, and although it scared me, I wish I could read it the first time again.
Part 1: Addie (told in alternating present and past)
Addie wakes up in the bed of a boy who does not remember her. She makes herself tea, then plays the piano, and when he wakes she gives him the basic tune before leaving him completely. He’ll make the art even if he doesn’t remember her. She goes and gets new clothes, steals a book and does not see his show. Instead she stays at the empty house of an actor she once met who was not there. And the next day, as she’s exploring NYC she finds a bookstore. And a boy named Henry who called her out for stealing.
Three hundred years ago, Addie was a dreamer who wanted nothing more than to belong to herself. She got to 23, praying to the old gods and the new God, to stop her from being married. However, a man loses his wife and decides to wed her. On the day of, she runs away and makes a deal with a god after dark. He gives her what she wants for her soul and when she wakes up the next morning, no one remembers her. For a day she realizes that each time someone leaves her sight they forget about her completely. She can steal things, and then she can not be hurt. She goes to Le Mans and then from there to Paris.
Part 2: Henry and Addie and Addie
Addie finds a place to sleep at an old love’s: Sam. Sam gives Addie a new memory and then Addie goes to Henry’s book store.
Henry, after catching Addie with the book, went to his old lover’s play with his friend. Then they went to a party and he forgot himself and tried to erase his depression for a night. Addie meets him at the shop the next day and he bans her from the store because it’s not a library and they don’t do returns. She apologizes, and has to see if he truly does remember her. After a coffee date and talking, she gives him her real name for the first time in a hundred years she can say it.
Addie in the past makes it to Paris. She has to learn to survive, which includes selling her body at first. In time she dose learn a lot and Luc, the dark god who cursed her, continues to torment her. He gave her the cursed existence to make her want to die and she resolves to fight no matter what even as he grows stronger in his image, and as a presence in her life. After he stands her up for their reunion, she vows not to be baited by him again.
Henry and Addie continue with their dates. Addie in the past meets a boy, and has sex with him for the first time in a way she likes. He does not remember her when he wakes and she is distraught. For the first time in. For the first time in four years Luc appears. They argue. Five years later he finds her again and then again, ruining great moments in her life. She does make a trip back to her mother to see her one last time but her mother does not remember her.
In the present, Addie goes to a dinner with Henry. And realizes Robbie still loved Henry. Henry’s friend Bea does not remember her and the next day at the bookstore Robbie does not remember her. She tells Henry the truth, and he believes her
Part 4: Henry
In the present, Henry tells Addie about how and why he made the deal and then they go to an art installation where they see many beautiful things, all before Addie tries to draw using Henry’s hands and succeeds. She then realizes that he can write her story.
In the past, Henry recounts how he was broken with a broken heart. When the doctors tried to fix it, he was left feeling too much. He fell in love but was never enough and after a two year relationship with a girl named Tabitha, he was rejected on the day he proposed. He got very drunk and met Luc, the demon/dark god who took his soul for Henry to be enough for everyone. Henry realizes that people see him for something that he is not. His girlfriend Vanessa only likes him for someone she does not see. Robbie falls in love with him again. His family is proud of him. And then the Dean that kicked him out of his PHD, wants him back. It is when he is talking with Bea, that he realizes that she sees him as a great friend and that he wasn’t before. He resolves to try to be better, but it is still too much for how everyone loves him unconditionally until he meets Addie.
Also note that Bea introduces Henry to her idea for an art installation based on Addie. Far before he met Addie.
Addie begins to dictate her story to Henry, and they continue dating. Each time it is hard on Henry but he learns to adapt around her and what she has to do to survive. He is still hurt by everyone forgetting her, however they are growing together. She learns to crack his friends so that their meetings are not as painful. However something lurks in the shadow of Henry’s eyes. She doesn’t not know what.
In the past, Addie is transported to many places. She is forced to break free from the chains she was setting on herself because of Luc and him attempting to torment her. Because if it she sees many wonders and beauties and ultimately learns that she can inspire art. Art can not be erased because it’s based on idea and she can shape ideas. As such she begins to do so and Luc finds out and she’s her his true Terri. However after seeing just how horrid he is, she understands him more and their relationship grows to where he sees her more often in different places and times that are not just their anniversary. They see many things and soon he stops asking her to surrender.
Months pass with Addie and Henry as she tells him her whole story. One day they go to a bar and she sees Luc who threatens her and Henry. he tells her that Henry is goi to do and she realizes it’s true. He has one one month left. Afford tires to barter for Henry’s life with Luc, but instead Luc gets angry and takes a week from them. Addie and Henry get to the last night of his life.
In the past Addie and Luc met more and more after the turn of the century. He saved her from a war, and made a deal with her for her to call him, she does not until WWII where she is captured in occupied France. She had been running secrets as a spy. After he saves her, they grow closer. Until he actually kissed her and then they have sex until it is more, like dinners and dancing, and she thinks she’s in love and he gets her a house. In 1984, they get into an argument when she asks to change her deal and he says he can’t stop it but she can surrender. And she realizes that it was all a lie, a plot for him to get her to give up her life. She explodes at him and their house is burdened down.
Three days before Henry died, Addie returned to Luc and offered herself to him for as long as he wants her by his side, in return for Henry’s soul. Luc accepted it.
Henry awakes the day after Addie left and her begins to write her story into a manuscript. A year later Bea demands an ending from him. She says it’s brilliant but she doesn’t believe it’s true. A year after that Addie sees it at a store and she knows that her game with Luc is not over. That one day she will make him hate her and when that day comes, he will set her free.
What I Liked:
Addie; Wow I really loved Addie. She’s witty and quick. I loved her pure unadulterated spite to living and seeing everything that the world has to offer. I hope that she can see the whole world and explore it all. Read a million books and view as many beautiful sights as she can, all while ruthless tormenting Luc. I’d call that good. She deserves the world.
Luc; This demon/god/Devil/force of nature can swallow me while I adore him so much. I can’t exactly explain why but his otherness was just so right. He was something else. Not a person. Not a god. Something balanced that was not good nor evil but just was and the way he came across was that, exactly that. As such I want to know everything about him. Everything.
Henry; this sweet cinnamon roll deserves the world and one day I hope he gets it. He is a person who really did get the short end of the stick with Addie, but now he gets his whole life to experience so much and I hope he has a good time with it.
Book about a book; I really loved that this book was about Addie telling her story. She deserved to be remembered and I’m super happy that she was. I always love framing narratives about that.
The deals; these deals were dangerous, and understandable all at once. I loved how they fed off of each other, and built each other to help Henry and Addie grow. Both deals were tragic in their own way, but I do believe that Henry had a worse one (time constraint and what made it happen). Words hold power, and now they know that better than anyone.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
To be able to read this again for the very first time.
“And no matter how desperate or dire, never pray to the gods that answer after dark.”- pg 0 or pg30
“Darling, he’d said in his soft, rich way, I was the night itself.”- pg 16
“I am not some genus, bound to your whim. Nor am I some petty forest spirit, content with granting favors for mortal trinkets. I am stronger than your god and older than our devil. I am the darkness between stars, and the roots beneath the earth. I am promise, and potential, and when it comes to playing games, I divine the rules, I set the pieces, and I close when to play. And tonight, I say no.” – pg 46
“Come live with me and be my love.” – pg 85
“All things have names. Names have purpose. Names have power.” – pg 147
“I remember seeing that picture and realizing that photographs weren’t real. There’s no context, just the illusion that you’re showing a snapshot of a life, but life isn’t snapshots, it’s fluid. So photos are like fictions. I loved that about them. Everyone thinks photography is truth, but it’s just a very convincing lie.” – pg 239
“Memories are stiff, but thoughts are freer things. They throw out roots, they spread and tangle, and come untethered from their source. They are clever, and stubborn, and perhaps —perhaps — they are in reach.”- pg 327
“Because happiness is brief, and history is lasting, and in the end everyone wants to be remembered.”- pg 351