So many of us wish to be invisible, daydreaming about what we assume to be an unattainable superpower. Only a few see it for what it really is... a curse.
Released back in 2020 by acclaimed author V. E. Schwab, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is a book that, although recounts the story of a forgotten girl, is still very popular to this day. Some credit its fame to the enchanting tale the book narrates. Others marveled at the writer’s choice of words, rereading sentences, even pages, surprised that Schwab can make them feel emotions they thought indescribable all the while keeping them on the edge of their seats trying to piece together the secrets she’d sprinkled throughout the novel. But before we discuss why the hype surrounding this book may be worth it, let’s first dive into the story it actually tells.
Meet Addie LaRue, born in 1691 in a small town in the middle of France. But the year 1714 is far more important than her birth year as it was the year she was reborn once again when she made a deal with who she believed to be the devil. Now, if you’re a fairytale fanatic who grew up listening to stories of magic and deals, you would know that in the latter, you can never really get what you want. You see, even if you manage to word your wish just right, ensuring that your dealer can’t exploit any loopholes, there is still always a price to pay. And while Addie didn’t mind the price, you know the typical selling of one’s soul in these situations — for the cost of what she wanted, she still fell into the trap of not realizing the power her words have.
She dreamed of being completely, utterly, and truly free. Free of responsibility, free of society’s restrictions, but most importantly, free of the constraints of time. She wanted to live a full life but instead found herself being marched down a road to an arranged marriage she wanted nothing to do with. Consequently, she did the only thing she thought could save her — a prayer to the gods of the night… and one answered. He granted her wish, though through his own terms, and while he was merciful enough to give her an infinite supply of youth and health, he cursed her to roam the Earth as a ghost, forgotten by all, tethered to none. And so that’s how she lived for three hundred years… until someone remembered her.
Should You Read It?
What’s surreal about this book is that it never leaves you. Even when you manage to put it down, you find yourself wondering about Addie’s deal. Very few are strangers to the desire of wanting to live forever, to see and experience as many things as possible. And even fewer live free from the fear that time is running out so incredibly fast. While the protagonist mentions that she doesn’t regret the deal and that she can still always manage to find something new in the world, her life makes readers question theirs and reflect on the time they’ve spent and the connections they’ve made.
Furthermore, I believe that another way this book haunts you in the best possible way is through its ties to art. One would assume that for someone who is forgotten, cursed to never be able to tell their name nor their story, they would have no impact on the world, only aimlessly drifting through it. But through the artwork mentioned at the beginning of every of the book’s seven sections, readers realize that that is not true. Addie somehow manages to repeatedly leave a mark, and if somebody like her — someone bound to be erased could have such an impact on people around them — imagine the one that we have not only on those close to us but also on the strangers we pass as well.
However, although this book successfully dominated online book communities, not all bookworms thought it worth their time. The story has been criticized for being painfully slow in areas you would not assume it to be. While in the beginning readers get hooked trying to decipher the lengths and limits of this deal as well as Addie’s ability to live this new life, when they reach the 50 percent mark, many find themselves coming to a still as they feel the events simply repeat themselves.
So, is this book for you? If you like a story that you could enjoy over several days, one that explores philosophical themes of existentialism, making you question life and your purpose in it, then this book might be for you. But if you don’t find that particularly appealing, I would still recommend this book because it changes the way you view your connections and relationships with people and their significance, even if just on a surface level. I mean, that’s bound to happen after you read a story about a person who goes through life tethered to no one.
Overall, I found The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue to be an original story that brings to light the ugliness, messiness, and beauty of being human, all the while reminding readers to truly live in whatever time they have left.
Now, whether you read it or not, just be sure to do one thing and remember Addie LaRue.
Photo: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock
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