Title: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue | Author: V.E. Schwab | Genre: Fantasy/Historical Fiction
“Books, she has found, are a way to live a thousand lives–or to find strength in a very long one.”– V.E. Schwab, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
I want to start this review by saying that The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is a breathtakingly well-written story unlike anything else I’ve read before. I’ve been struggling to write this review for the past two weeks since I finished the book and to even decide on my final rating, but here it goes!
I touched on this in my first “Meet the Blogger” post, and I’ll touch on it more in an upcoming post about my rating and review process. My ratings and reviews solely reflect how much I enjoyed reading the book, not how much of a literary marvel it is. That’s why A Court of Mist and Fury is a five-star read for me despite its writing being subpar (come on, we all know it is).
I’m highlighting this point because I’m torn. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is, without a doubt, one of the most beautifully written contemporary novels I’ve read in a while. I’m in no position to judge what is or isn’t a literary masterpiece, but I want to say that this book is as close as it gets. I can see why everyone is raving about this book. The writing is spectacular. Every description feels luxurious and soft, like cashmere in my mind. If we’re talking about this book in terms of literary prowess, it would earn 5 stars on that front.
But… I’m sorry to say, I was very disappointed with my experience while reading this story. Quite frankly, I didn’t enjoy reading the majority of it. It didn’t provoke any strong emotions; I didn’t connect, let alone fall in love, with any of the characters. And that’s what I read for – pure enjoyment. It was not what I thought it would be, and, if I’m honest, I almost DNF multiple times. It is very possible that this book was simply not written for readers like me. I’m a die-hard romance and fantasy reader. I read for the characters and the plot, less for flowery language and existential life lessons. I read as a way to escape reality, and, if anything, this book stressed me out a bit with its existentialism. This is a book I could see being taught in AP literature in high school as an example of the beautiful use of figurative language. But does that mean I want to read it in my free time? Maybe, but not necessarily.
This book’s language is beautiful, yes, but it breaks an essential rule of writing: “show, don’t tell.” The entire book is just being told to us. I spent the majority of the book waiting for the plot to build, for something to happen. And there were indeed moments where things did happen, and I was drawn to the story, eager to see what happens next. Unfortunately, those moments were few and far between, and my interest was lost as quickly as it was caught.
The characterization is lacking if not nearly absent. I felt very disconnected from all of the characters throughout the entire story. Never once did I really feel like I fully understood Addie’s nature. All of the characters still felt like complete strangers to me by the end of the story. It is told in omniscient third-person, which certainly could have contributed to this distance and disconnection, especially when I am used to, and tend to prefer, stories told in first-person.
The story alternates between timelines and perspectives from chapter to chapter. Because of that, I found the pacing to be slow and stilted. The story was also very repetitive. This does make sense giving the premise and main character of the story. Still, it made the story a bit predictable and monotonous for me.
I hate to be so negative about a book that everyone seems to adore, but I honestly only pushed through because I was determined to see what it was that made so many people love this book so much. At the end of the day, the writing was outstanding and the premise fantastical, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. As far as literary works go, I can see why everyone raves about it. But when it comes to how much I enjoyed reading the story, how much of a reaction it got out of me, I’m sorry to say it just didn’t deliver on that front. So, now for the rating. I’ve decided to give The Invisible life of Addie LaRue two and a half stars solely for its outstanding literary merit. It wasn’t my thing, but it just might be yours! Check other reviews before deciding.
Check out my Spotify playlist inspired by The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue!