The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab presents an interesting story about a character who makes a deal with the devil to live indefinitely, with the condition that no one will ever remember her. On the face of it, Addie LaRue aspires to be an inspiring and compelling novel that takes us through history and affirms that no one is ever truly forgotten and we all have a story to share.
However, this message is overshadowed by the lack of character development given to our protagonist, Addie. Throughout her 300 years of life, going through major historical events and going to new places and meeting new people, Addie remains a somewhat naïve and unaware teenager. Without seeing Addie grow, take on new personalities and become wiser, the story becomes repetitive. The story never shifts away from a teenager constantly hanging onto their past instead of living their life.
It would have been interesting to see Addie visit new places and meet people who were not necessarily the famous white men of history. Unveiling who was behind the scenes of history books and sharing their stories would have allowed us to get a human and realistic account of important events in the past. There were, however, some valuable relationships that she encountered, such as her fling with Remy. When we see Addie find a somewhat kindred spirit it is heart-breaking to go through the motions of them eventually forgetting her and forcing her to move on. These sorts of encounters make the reader question why Addie keeps on living this life? There is nothing that she does to make her life meaningful. Her whole life was meant to be dedicated to escaping the fate of a life she did not want, and yet she now lives a life where she is dependent on the short attention of strangers, which leaves her bereft of any true connection.
While we see longer relationships develop with Luc, the devil whom Addie made the deal with, and Henry, these characters come across as narcissistic and emotionally manipulative men. Though Schwab attempted to show their complexity and humanity, it came across as glorifying some pretty toxic traits. For example, Luc exploits and abuses Addie’s ignorance and torments her throughout the years. Romanticising Addie’s relationship with Luc is somewhat problematic and sends out a conflicting message about what is a healthy and safe relationship.
If I was to make a deal with the devil, I would certainly make the deal that all novels have realistic characters who grow and evolve, live their lives fully, do not submit themselves to be objects for others, and do not romanticise toxic relationships.
I rate this novel a 2 out of 5.