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The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab Summary
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.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab Thoughts
I had to pick up The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, for obvious reasons. V. E. Schwab is one of those authors that I’ve always wanted to read and knew I would love, but I just never got around to it. With all the hype and conversation around The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, I figured now was as good a time as any!
Since this is the first Spoilery Chat I’ve done with a standalone, I didn’t really have any predictions going into The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. So I’ve just compiled the notes I made while reading and cleaned them up a little bit, but it’s definitely a bit of a rollercoaster. I didn’t really start taking notes until a ways into The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue because I needed to get my bearings before JUDGING (lol), so that’s why we’re starting right in the middle of things!
As always, I wouldn’t suggest proceeding if you plan to read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and dislike spoilers.
If you’d like a normal, non-spoilery review of a V. E. Schwab book, my friend Emma recently wrote a guest post doing just that for her book Vicious, which you should definitely check out. Especially if you liked The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue.
Summary of My Read of The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab
- I don’t know if I liked being in Henry’s head so much. Weirdly, I liked Addie less through his eyes. She’s lowkey a cougar?
- It took me a minute to realize the art was all stuff Addie had inspired and I had to go back to check them out. Glad I didn’t end up listening on audiobook or I would have been confused.
- Okay, I totally could have predicted that Henry would also have a curse. Why didn’t Addie suspect it sooner though? She clearly knew there were far more people out there with curses thanks to her time with Luc. Also there was no way this was going to go well regardless — she had to know by now that Luc is basically omnipotent and wouldn’t miss a thing.
- At one point I kinda thought that Henry was Luc, except the in-the-head thing messed that theory up. It’s just strange to me that they resembled each other so much when both had fairly distinctive looks. And it’s not like Addie picked Henry because he was her type — he was literally the only option regardless of what he looked like.
- I am so bad with books that have blurry rules to their magic. I was constantly thinking up situations that might trip it up. For example, what if the two of them were with Bea and Robbie and only one of them walked away for a moment — wouldn’t the other person still remember and be confused by the new reaction when they came back to the table? This happened at the dinner party, but that was a situation where it would have been embarrassing to point out.
- Also — Addie isn’t a time-traveller, and that bothered me the tiniest bit, because how does she end up meeting all these soon-to-be-famous people? I know she hangs out in high places and it’s plausible, but those details feel a little too over the top to me. She’s still living through time like everyone else — there’s a weird ease to it, like Schwab was trying a little too hard to romanticize it.
- While I didn’t much like Henry’s parts, I did think Schwab wrote a heart-wrenchingly accurate description when talking about his struggles with mental illness. How Henry feels too much is one of those details that just really hits home, and on top of it, the remark that his lateness is “an attempt at self-preservation” was a poignant observation that really stuck with me.
- VANESSA!!! Oh god, this was some kinda painful to read. Honestly could do with a book made entirely of Henry’s terrible ex stories, because he has to have a few more mad ones.
- “A way to smooth ‘in love’ into ‘love’.” Oof. Talk about twisting the knife.
- Okay, I also had a question about the scene in which Henry and Robbie go to pop popcorn and get ‘distracted’ (lol). HOW LONG WERE THEY POPPING THE CORN FOR??? Like how are you scorching it to death??? There’s no “indefinite” button on a microwave (I don’t think??), so you know they had to be putting in some number bigger than 3:00 and I just can’t think of a way to justify that decision. Use the popcorn button, y’all! My skin was crawling!
- Also, obviously Tabitha had to appear again — our hero has evolved!
- Is the Artifact a real thing? Because it sounds dope and I want to go, and also if Schwab made that whole thing up in her head I’m gonna flip because one person having that much creativity is just Not Okay.
- Speaking of creativity, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the little poems. It seemed like they weren’t consistent enough to be a theme, and even if they had been, it would have been a little too much on top of the artwork being incorporated, I think. Though I did notice Schwab used that particular style in her Acknowledgements, so maybe there’s more to it? I think maybe she identifies with Henry more than she does Addie.
- I wasn’t a fan of the fetishization of Luc. I get that the devil is beautiful and all but I’ve been thinking a lot about how villains are portrayed in a lot of YA and fantasy nowadays. So, I understood why Schwab made this choice, and admittedly towards the end it made way more sense, but I’m just not into making readers feel sorry for terrible people, and maybe trying to justify their terribleness and make it “okay” by giving them a sad background? I think it’s a bit of a harmful trope.
- Along those lines, I’m so over the “they looked so similar yet so different” kind of weird objectification of male love interests. As a writer, those comparisons are so tempting, but somehow using their physical attributes as a way to encourage the protagonist’s conceptions of their character makes me a bit uncomfortable. And listen, I know I’m making a lot of complaints about things that have been around in literature since the beginning, and stories obviously have to be shaped differently than in real life, but I think it’s still important that we take note of this kind of thing. It’s interesting to analyze, at the very least.
- As soon as Henry’s pen hits that page I knew he would turn out to be an author in the end, and I was sliiiiightly annoyed it wasn’t a little more surprising. Like of course the dude who works in a bookshop and is kinda into scholarship is destined to write a book. I don’t even think Henry was too into books, to be honest? He’s never really reading them. Though yes, I say only slightly annoyed because this turn was charming as always.
- The tree got me. Those were the first tears.
- Addie kinda didn’t love Henry! Or, should I say, wasn’t in love with him. I loved this implication that she didn’t necessarily know if she had the same feelings as he did for her. Like I was sad for Henry, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve never quite understood how an immortal character could be with someone so young when they have so many years behind them. Just because their physical appearance didn’t change doesn’t mean their minds didn’t.
- Let’s just take a moment to appreciate Schwab’s writing. She is so ridiculously talented. And her knack for painting scenes is stunning — like the description of a day at the beach and the following evening is so good and captures the feeling perfectly. Tell me you weren’t reminded of some past summer.
- When Luc mentioned the time aspect to Henry’s deal, I went back to the man-in-the-rain scene looking for this detail, because I feel like we were conveniently robbed of this info initially.
- All that foreshadowing got me, man. I got more and more horrified the more I realized what Schwab was setting us up for. The tension!
- Of course Addie sacrificed herself. Not sure how I feel about seeing her again in the last chapter after Henry told everyone he didn’t know how things ended, because it seemed like we the readers were supposed to think we were reading Henry’s actual writing. I love this kind of immersion but I guess Schwab wasn’t super committed to that idea. Though the knowledge that Addie tricked Luc one last time was satisfying and worth that sacrifice.
- Yeah, I cried.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue Quotes
Regardless of whether you liked The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue or not, you can’t deny this hunk of literature is quotable. Here are a few lines that wowed me:
“What is a person, if not the marks they leave behind?”
“Three words, large enough to tip the world. I remember you.”
“Because time is cruel to all, and crueler still to artists. Because visions weakens, and voices wither, and talent fades…. Because happiness is brief, and history is lasting, and in the end… everyone wants to be remembered”
“Nothing is all good or all bad,” she says. “Life is so much messier than that.”
“There is a defiance in being a dreamer”
“What she needs are stories. Stories are a way to preserve one’s self. To be remembered. And to forget. Stories come in so many forms: in charcoal, and in song, in paintings, poems, films. And books. Books, she has found, are a way to live a thousand lives—or to find strength in a very long one.”
“…it is sad, of course, to forget. But it is a lonely thing, to be forgotten. To remember when no one else does.”
‘“A dreamer,” scorns her mother.
“A dreamer,” mourns her father.
“A dreamer,” warns Estele.
Still, it does not seem such a bad word.”’
I’ve stopped it there because a whole page dedicated to The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue quotes seems excessive, and that’s where this could easily end up. Schwab is a gorgeous writer, truly.
And here’s the link to purchasing The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue on Bookshop, if you too are interested in crying and for some reason decided not to heed my spoiler warning up at the top!