2020 Macmillan Audio
Narrated by: Julia Whelan
Finished on December 1, 2021
Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)
France, 1714: In a moment of desperation, a young woman named Adeline meets a dangerous stranger and makes a terrible mistake.
As she realizes the limitations of her Faustian bargain--being able to live forever, without being able to be remembered by anyone she sees--Addie chooses to flee her small village, as everything she once held dear is torn away.
But there are still dreams to be had, and a life to live, and she is determined to find excitement and satisfaction in the wide, beckoning world--even if she will be doomed to be alone forever.
Or not quite alone--as every year, on her birthday, the alluring Luc comes to visit, checking to see if she is ready to give up her soul. Their darkly thrilling game stretches through the ages, seeing Addie witness history and fight to regain herself as she crosses oceans and tries on various lives.
It will be three hundred years before she stumbles into a hidden bookstore [... spoiler removed] and suddenly everything changes again.
In the vein of The Time Traveler's Wife and Life After Life, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is New York Times bestselling author V.E. Schwab's genre-defying tour de force.
After reading several glowing reviews for The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, I took a gamble and recommended it to my book group before I had a chance to read it myself. I listened to the audio, which is narrated by Julia Whelan (a favorite audio reader), who does an outstanding job with each character's voice. Unfortunately, the book fell short of my expectations. I liked it, but after the initial plot is revealed, the dialogue and situations involving Addie's encounters with Luc were repetitious and it wasn't until Henry makes his appearance that things pick up again. The constant back and forth dialogue between Addie and Luc is tiresome and as one friend mentioned, that relationship felt like something out of Fifty Shades of Grey (a book I have not, nor do I plan to, read). I also grew weary of the constant reminders of the main characters' features; black curls, seven freckles, emerald eyes, etc. I liked Addie and Henry's storyline, which is what kept me interested (and able to listen to all 17 hours of narration), but certain aspects were too predictable and I was sorry I figured things out so early in the narrative. Maybe I've read too many mysteries this year and expected a big twist or two before the grand finale.
I'm a little bit nervous, but also curious, to see what the others in my book group think of this novel. I went into it blind, as is my usual habit, but something about the cover art and the blog reviews I scanned brought to mind The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, which I loved. (Click on the link for my review.) Schwab's novel does not compare to Morgenstern's magical story, which is peopled with likeable characters and beautiful prose. Other than Addie, Luc and Henry, Morgenstern's characters are flat and unremarkable. I'm afraid that with the passage of time, I too will come to forget Addie LaRue.