The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

by V. E. Schwab

Paperback, 2023

Status

Available

Collection

Publication

Tor Books (2023), 448 pages

Description

Making a Faustian bargain to live forever but never be remembered, a woman from early eighteenth-century France endures unacknowledged centuries before meeting a man who remembers her name.

Awards

Audie Award (Finalist — Fantasy — 2021)
Brooklyn Public Library Book Prize (Longlist — Fiction and Poetry — 2021)
Bisexual Book Award (Winner — Speculative Fiction — 2020)
Dragon Award (Finalist — Fantasy Novel — 2021)

Language

Original language

English

Original publication date

2020-10-06

Physical description

448 p.; 9.25 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member acargile
When I started reading The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, I thought it was a YA novel because I've read many of Ms. Scwab's YA books as a school librarian. I discovered quite quickly it's an adult book. I thought, "Lovely, I get to read something not for tween and teens. I'll enjoy this." I made it
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through the entire book, but it never spoke to me.

Addie LaRue wants more. She lives in a small village in France in the ate 1600s and early 1700s. Life for women meant marriage, babies, and exhaustion from living. She's been told who she will marry in 1719 and begs the gods her neighbor has told her about to rescue her. Not noticing that dark has fallen, a god who answers after dark, appears and they agree to a bargain. He can have her soul if he will free her to see the world beyond this village. The god's leverage comes from the bargainer's desperation. It's only after the bargain is made that the bargainer discovers the true consequences of the deal.

Addie's desire to see the world and be free comes with an unexpected curse (or blessing). She lives anonymously--as soon as she is out of sight, she is forgotten. True freedom--no connections--she travels and does as she wishes. She has time to truly learn and explore while never aging. The novel goes back and forth between past and present. The past covers how she adapted and what she sees over the centuries as well as her relationship with Luc, the dark god, as she names him. The present encompasses the first time someone remembers her. Addie can actually have a conversation, fall asleep with someone and wake up and the person knows who she is. What makes him different?

Objects hold the book together, as they tie her to Luc: ring, jacket. Otherwise, the novel moves about a lot from scene and time period to scene and time period. The real story isn't so much about the present but about her and Luc--not that there are a lot of scenes with them. The question is--who truly has the upper hand? There's actually little characterization for Luc--Addie knows him better than we do, but we do get hints as to his true nature. At the end, you have to decide for yourself who truly wins in their power plays. I found the novel very slow. I never could care for Addie or Luc. I finished the novel in hopes that I would be impressed by a clever ending. Perhaps others will find it clever, and maybe I missed the point. Everything with plot and characterization just seemed glossed over instead of having depth where I would care or be impressed with the ending. I would be hard pressed to know who to recommend it to as a librarian, but you never know. Books speak to people differently, so I know someone who loves the "bargain with the devil" type of books will love this one as well.

I received this as an ARC from Edelweiss and didn't see the illustrations and offer only my opinion and thank them for sharing it.
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LibraryThing member Iudita
Loved this. It made me think of Life After Life, which I also loved. I'm not sure why because it is a very different story but there was something about the style and structure that kept me reminiscing about Life After Life.
LibraryThing member Micareads
If you had the chance to live a life free of expectations, to live it as you saw fit...what price would you pay? What price would be too high? Would you be willing to sell your soul to the devil?

This is the question Addie answers when, in order to escape a marriage and life she doesn't want, she
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prays to the night gods and pays a heavy price. When the devil agrees to her pleas of helping her escape the life she currently has in return for her soul when she is done with it, Addie disappears from the memories of those around her and from the memory of people she meets over the next three hundred years.

Addie learns to acclimate herself as she moves through the years where she lives through some of the biggest moments in history where she is forgotten by those she meets. What she wants more than anything is to be remembered. She suddenly meets Henry Strauss while stealing a book from the used book shop he works at. She returns the next day looking to exchange the book only to find that Henry remembers her. This moment sets Addie on a path that will change her thoughts on forever and what price she would pay for love.

This was definitely one of the best books I have read this year. I found it to be reminiscent of "The Night Circus" and "The Starless Sea" by Erin Morgenstern. The imagery displayed by the author, the clear love of reading, and the importance of words resonate with those of us who enjoy being transported to a different place when we read. V.E. Schwab is an author I will be reading more of for sure.
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LibraryThing member deslivres5
I received this e-book ARC of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab through Net Galley from Tor Books in exchange for a truthful review.

What a unique and novel situation Adeline “Addie” LaRue is put in when she makes a deal with the devil that will have her live forever but not leave
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a mark, always forgotten.
I slowed down the reading of this ARC because I felt each and every word had to be savored.
Seeing how Addie lives within the confines of her curse was remarkable!
After 90% in, I became stingy and kept putting off reading the final chapters because I just really didn’t want for Addie’s story to end. And such a meta ending, bravo!

The “SAT” word, palimpsest, is used 6 times. At first, I was a bit put off to see it crop up that many times, but then I realized… it was THE perfect word for this novel, and for Addie’s life.
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LibraryThing member Bodagirl
The buzz around this book did not disappoint. Schwab's writing style was emotional and evocative, without edging into maudlin. Romance was definitely part of the plot, but I wouldn't classify this book in the romance genre, as the main storyline was Addie discovering herself and not letting anyone
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(especially the Darkness) make decisions about her life. Addie was a complex character and I appreciated how she grew through her journey, but also kept that fighting spirit and fierce independence throughout.

A lot of reviews mention that it's Faustian, but I think Schwab incorporated enough twists into the trope to update it and make it less expected. Even though I kind of figured out the Henry was connected to the Darkness, I wasn't completely spot on and I definitely did not see Addie's checkmate coming.

I highly recommend this book, especially for fantasy readers who want to expand from the traditional "high" or "sword and sorcery" section of the genre.
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LibraryThing member ZeljanaMaricFerli
A poor village girl in 18th century France signs off her soul in a contract with Lucifer (?) in exchange for eternal life. The catch: no one will be able to remember her. An interesting, but overdone idea with a twist that made me curious about the execution. Due to the stellar reviews this book
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has got, and in need of a literary escape, I decided to give this a try.

Did it deliver? Not exactly. First of all, I feel tricked. They promised me adult fiction, I strongly feel this book is more YA fiction than anything else. There was simply not enough substance in it.

The prose is very poetic, almost to the point of being annoying (I am not a fan of overly romantic writing), but for me, it's just too saccharine.

But, all of this I could easily forgive only if the story delivered. For a life spanning over 300 hundred years of recent history, it is a pretty boring one. The heroine is somewhat compelling, I'll give her that. But, she just doesn't end up doing anything interesting and she doesn't gain any wisdom as the centuries go by. We do get some breadcrumbs of info from her past, but seriously, she could've been born in the late 20th century and we wouldn't lose anything from this story.

Sadly, Addie LaRue, I've already forgotten you.

2.5 stars.
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LibraryThing member zjakkelien
I can see why people are enthusiastic about this book, but it isn't quite working for me. I disliked the constant jumping back to the past. Both hers and his. It seems like a vehicle for painting an atmosphere and revealing some event that is hinted about in the present. I've read books before that
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did something similar. But usually, the revelation would be an actual revelation, not an 'oh, I met my arch frenemy again and we had dinner.' It just made me impatient. I liked the parts in the present, and there were times when the book really caught me. Times when the language really flowed. But I dropped out of that way too often to give it a higher rating.

And after reading the entire thing, all I can see is a book about spite and a protagonist without power.
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LibraryThing member bookwyrmm
The perfect Faustian story with for the modern age.
LibraryThing member Hccpsk
I received an e-book ARC of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab through Net Galley from Tor Books in exchange for an honest review.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue falls victim to one of the great curses of literature in the last decade or so--it’s just too long. I don’t know what
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happened to editors and the art of honing a story, but that’s what we have with Addie LaRue--something good--very good, even--that could have been great. V.E. Schwab gives us another magical story where Adeline LaRue sells her soul to the devil in exchange for freedom and a life of adventure that doesn’t end until she surrenders. The twist? No one remembers her once she is out of sight. Addie, an artist at heart, struggles and eventually learns how to leave her mark in history when she cannot make anything last more than a second or two. We flash back and forth between (nearly) present-day New York and specific moments through Addie’s 300 plus years of life with art as the guiding force. Schwab has crafted a beautiful story about art, time, history, love, and who will remember us that may be a bit too long, but is a very good read nonetheless. Highly recommended for readers of Erin Morgenstern, Leigh Bardugo, and Katherine Arden.
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LibraryThing member mzonderm
Addie LaRue is completely unable to make a mark on this world. She is forgotten the moment she is out of sight, her writing erases itself, and she can't even manage to hold on to any material possessions, except a wooden ring that is the symbol of her deal with the devil. Addie asked for freedom,
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to not be tied down to convention, but we all know that you have to be careful what you wish for. Addie has all the freedom she could want, and then some, and her bargain is good until she tires of being unendingly forgotten, at which point the devil will claim her soul.
The devil thinks he's gotten a good deal, making a bargain with a rash young girl, but he didn't count on Addie. Realizing that "ideas are wilder than memories" and can't be so easily controlled, she makes the terms of the bargain work for her. Perhaps she is an artist's muse for a while or she plants a musical riff that grows into a hit song, or finds some other way to live on (anonymously) through art. On top of that, she really does have freedom to experience all the world has to offer, and she's been experiencing it for 300 years.

And then, someone remembers her. After so much time, can Addie even have a relationship with someone who actually remembers her from one day to the next? What will she learn about her relationship to the world? And will it make her rethink the bargain she made so long ago?

Addie is a wonderfully strong, brave character, who will stick with you (haunt you?) long after you finish this book. The book is a trifle too long, but the payoff at the end is worth it.

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for this review.
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LibraryThing member MickyFine
Addie LaRue is desperate for a life outside of her small village in France and the deeply worn path that everyone else seems content to follow. She makes a deal with the darkness for more time on earth in exchange for her soul. The unforeseen cost is that no one she meets will ever remember her.
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And so Addie makes her way across decades and cities, people and events for 300 years. Until one day in 2014 she meets a man in a bookshop who remembers her.

Such a beautiful novel. Addie is a compelling character who grapples with her identity and her humanity as we follow her in chapters set both in her present in 2014 as well as seeing how she's made her way through her life over the centuries. While there's richly drawn historical fiction details, the draw here is the character study and the exploration of what makes life worthwhile. With obvious strong appeal for fans of Faust and The Portrait of Dorian Gray, fans of Schwab's previous novels will also find details to love here particularly in her character of the dark being who makes the deal with Addie. Recommended.
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LibraryThing member jmchshannon
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab
The anticipation for The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab was so high this year that you might think there is no way it could possibly live up to those expectations. Then you read it. And you realize that it blows those expectations out
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of the water.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is the very definition of pathos because there is nothing particularly happy or joyful about Addie’s life. Yet, it matters not because her story is so imaginative, so thoughtful, so evocative that you read it with your heart in your throat. Emotions, like dread and sadness, threaten to overwhelm you after every page.

There is beauty in Addie’s world though. Strangely, you find beauty in her suffering, her resilience, and her longing. Even though you don’t think you want to continue her story after her first night in Paris — because it is just too much — you do because Addie haunts you, unlike any other character. You want her to find happiness in any form, and you want to ease that longing that is so visceral and difficult to read.

The ending of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is flawless. There is no other way the story could end. Even though it may not be the ending you want for Addie’s story, it is perfect and completely worth the heartache and tears that fall on Addie’s behalf.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is unlike any story you have previously read. It is also a story that is going to haunt your waking moments as well as your dreams. You will find yourself thinking of Addie’s curse at the strangest times, and you will notice all the ways in which you leave an imprint of yourself now that you know all the ways Addie could not. Without a doubt, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue will be the best book you read all year and maybe for years to come.
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LibraryThing member bookchickdi
V.E. Schwab is best known for her young adult fantasy novels, but her newest novel, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is geared towards adults. Addie LaRue is a young woman who, in 1714 France, runs away from an arranged marriage to a widower.

In the woods, she meets the form of a man who promises
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her the life she wants- freedom to choose how to live, whom to love, what to be. The only catch is that in exchange for this life, she must give her soul over to him. Addie agrees, but only if she can give up her soul when she is done living her life.

This Faustian bargain allows Addie to make her own life choices with one caveat- no one will remember her. Once she is out of their sight, it is as if they never saw her before. This makes for a very lonely life for Addie. She can’t hold a job, or have a relationship; she is forever a stranger.

The only one who knows her is the fallen god who gave her this life. He shows up from time to time, and Addie’s exchanges with him are intriguing and tension-filled. He seems particularly drawn to Addie.

Three hundred years later, in 2014 New York City, Addie meets Henry in a used bookstore and he remembers her name. How is this possible? Henry and Addie begin to spend time together, and everything changes for Addie. Could this be the life she has always wanted?

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue reminded me of one of my favorite books from the past few years- Lisa Grunwald’s Time After Time. Both books ask the question “What would you give up for the love of your life?”

I loved The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. It reminds us to be careful of what we wish for, it may not be what you wanted. A tantalizing adult fairy tale, I give it my highest recommendation.
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LibraryThing member Carol420
If Addie LaRue had only listened to the warning from the cover of the book….“NEVER PRAY TO THE GODS THAT ANSWER AFTER DARK”. Do you want to live forever? If your answer is “yes”…what would you be willing to give in exchange? You’re making this deal with a character that is never
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identified as such, but will give the reader the impression that he is none other than….the devil himself…and he’s going to drive a really hard bargain. Addie finds this out when her wish is granted but she has given up her entire life. Oh, she’s alive and she’s going to get her wish… but in no one is going to remember her…even when they have just met her. Addie spends the next 300 years of her life in a bookshop…but of course no one remembers seeing her…meeting her or that she was ever there…until there was Henry. It’s a story with a interesting premise although one that has been played out in many different books... but differently enough in this one to make it a little different. The book is slow and repetitive in places and because of the characters situation…she has really no opportunity to advance. It’s like she is stuck in time...if that makes any sense. No matter how you rate the book, you will find yourself remembering this story for better or worse long after you have closed the covers.
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LibraryThing member nbmars
The story, which eventually covers 300 years, begins in a small French village in 1714 and moves back and forth to Manhattan in 2014. Addie LaRue, born in Villon-sur-Sarthe in 1691, had the distinctive feature of seven freckles on her face, “scattered like a band of stars across her nose and
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cheeks. Her own private constellation.” Those freckles would help her make her mark in the world.

In 1714 when Addie was 23, her parents decided she had resisted marriage long enough, and arranged a union with a widower. “Her mother said it was duty. Her father said it was mercy, though Adeline doesn’t know for whom.”

Addie didn’t want to belong to someone else. She wanted to be free: “Free to live, and to find my own way, to love, or to be alone, but at least it is my choice…” She prayed to the darkness, because the light didn’t answer her. “‘Please,’ she says, ‘I will give anything.’”

The darkness answered her and agreed to give her freedom in exchange for her soul when she was done with her life. She accepted the Faustian bargain, not realizing the terms of the deal. She would indeed live as long as she chose, but she would never be remembered after she left anyone’s sight. She could not appear in any painting or photo, could not leave a written record, and could not even utter her real name. Thus she could not get a job, and had to steal food and clothes, and sleep wherever she could find shelter. Still, Addie reveled in the beauty and variety of all she saw over time, and found she was able to plant “ideas” even if she herself would be only a smudge of a memory; a dream; a hazy image to those whose lives she affected. The only one who could see her and say her name was the Darkness, whom she dubbed Luc.

Finally, in 2014, Addie meets someone who remembers her and to whom she can tell her real name. Addie improbably thinks she has somehow outsmarted Luc, until she learns the contours of his new game with her.

Evaluation: As much as I have loved the previous books by this author, I felt that this one fell short on characterization and pacing. We never really got to know anyone, not even after 300 years (so it seemed) of reading about them.
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LibraryThing member jldarden
I am a sucker for reincarnation and immortality stories and this book does not disappoint. First time I've read this author and I truly enjoyed her style. I liked the characters and found them well developed and the story held my interest throughout. The events and circumstances of Addie's life
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unfolded in a believable way. She dealt with her curse and its pluses and drawbacks as she could. I was happy with the ending and somewhat hope the author does not give in to 'sequel-itis' and let readers imagine what happens going forward. Recommended.
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LibraryThing member forsanolim
What is it about hyped-up books with black covers? The Starless Sea, Ninth House, this one. (I liked two of the three of those.) I was definitely excited to read it, since it sounded like something I'd really enjoy.

And for the most part, it really delivered. The writing was lovely (think along the
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lines of The Starless Sea, but more modern, in a way, and with more plot), and I was really invested in it. To summarize: Desperate to avoid a marriage, Addie LaRue makes a bargain with a devil-like creature in 1714 France, trading her soul to be free. She gains freedom and immortality--as long as she wants it, until she surrenders--but at the price of total anonymity. She cannot say her name, and she cannot make or write anything, and she is forgotten by everyone as soon as she leaves the room. But almost 300 years later, in New York, she meets someone who remembers.

What kept me from giving the last star was the ending. I'd heard good things about it, but for me, it fell into a trope that I really dislike. I think that parts of the ending worked well, but that one thing threw me a bit right at the end.
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LibraryThing member BethYacoub
I have been reduced to a puddle of my own tears and when I say tears I mean silent hiccup sobbing, wake the hubby at 3 a.m. from sniffling too hard tears.

It was: the anguish of hopelessness--> the possibility of something good and true---> impossible fruition---> joy the likes of which are nearly
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incomprehensible---> loss so profound you might never recover---> ??

Mrs. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is one of her best works to date and that's saying a lot since Shade of Magic happens to be really high up on my top 10 favorite series of all time. Addie Larue was enticing and gripping right out of the gate. It was engaging and never once did I wish it would hurry up or stop focusing on one aspect in favor of another. The pacing was excellent, never a lull or rough spot. And the writing was poignant and meaningful just as we have come to expect in a Victoria Schwab book. The world developement was detailed. I was transported around the world and I felt the character's pain, lived their challenges, right there alongside them. The backdrops were so vivid I could smell the putrid stench of Life centuries ago. I felt the defeated, unjust terror of being a lone woman in a man's world, having to make heartbreaking decisions just to keep on living.

As usual, we were blessed with morally ambiguous characters, just like she normally writes them... just like I like to read them... this time from 2 vastly different POVs. We were led on a journey through centuries of (oft times) hard living all the way up to modern day with First World problems. Our 2 MCs were almost polar opposites who were floundering in their lives and just about had enough. They were lost (in the most dire meaning of the word) and ready to do WHATEVER was necessary to drastically change their lot in life. They mostly struggled with the choice(s) they made, choices that led to consequences more akin to curses rather than blessings. And just when you think their solo stories have reached rock bottom... they somehow find one another. These opposing magnets find themselves flipped about, hopelessly addicted and uncontrollably attracted to one another as only 2 strong magnets can be. The characters were elegantly, subtly, brilliantly built up, so much so that I hardly noticed their depths until I was fully engrossed and completely invested. Their troubles were tangible and the characters so robust, I actually (emotionally) felt them, heard them, was them. AND then there's the antagonist: is he a God, the devil, a dark spirit, an enemy, a lover?? Dive in, you know you want answers.

Overall:

This was an emotional rollercoaster ride and oh so worth the hurt! I loved every moment and I can't recommend it highly enough.

~ Enjoy
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LibraryThing member joweirqt
I enjoyed this as an escapist, easy read and it was satisfyingly long. I can't say I liked the main characters especially, but the premise of the deals they did was interesting.

To me this would be classified as a romance novel, definitely chick lit. The science fiction aspect of it engaged me
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though.

I was surprised that the author, when listing the languages the heroine could speak, mentioned Swiss. I wonder which of their four main languages this referred to.

I love the sense of place that some novels impart. In this novel, New York City was very fleshed out. The other locations seemed a bit like add-ons, as if the author hadn't spent enough time there to describe them to the same degree.
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LibraryThing member foggidawn
18th century French peasant Adeline LaRue wants to live her life on her own terms, not under the control of a husband. She prays to every god she has heard of -- the Christian God, but also the little gods of wood and stream -- and for a while, it seems to work, as one potential suitor, then
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another, turns his eye in another direction. But when she makes on last, desperate prayer on what would have been her wedding day, Someone else answers her prayer. Addie sells her soul to the devil in exchange for freedom for as long as she wants it, but there's a catch (when you make a deal with the devil, there's always a catch): she will be unremembered. As soon as she leaves another person's line of sight, they will forget her completely. For nearly 300 years, Addie lives this lonely existence, reveling in her freedom to explore all of the world's wonders, but then, one day, somebody remembers her...

Schwab's writing is always marked by tight plotting and complex characters, and this book is no exception to that rule. It's a fascinating read (I quibbled a bit at some of the minor historical details, but I won't go into that), and the emotions in the book are likewise deep and moving. If you enjoy this sort of story, I definitely recommend it.
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LibraryThing member Evelyn.B
No wonder this was a top read for so many people last year! Addie is a stunning character who learns so much over the course of her life from the early 1700s-current day. As a reader I got to see those lessons play out for better or for worse in V.E. Schwab's pages. Addie's gift/curse came with a
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price and she was never able to forget it. This was a sad story filled with hope, art, beauty, and love that touched my soul, and made me ask the question: If I could live forever, with the price that Addie paid, would I? Highly recommend. Such a creative way to tell a story, it makes me want to read everything else Schwab has created.
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LibraryThing member grandpahobo
This book is a romance built around an interesting premise. I am not a romance fan (unless its very funny, which this is not). By the time I realized the true nature of the book, I was 1/3 of the way into it and thought that the premise would at least keep it interesting. It was interesting at
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times, but mostly slogging through a lot of very melodramatic stuff. I have never seen so many ways to describe the shape of a jaw or face.

Even the end is predictable anti climactic. The only reason for three stars is the writing, which is very good.
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LibraryThing member kimkimkim
While this book may be considered amazing what is truly extraordinary is the mind and ability of the author who created this thought provoking piece of literature. What is it worth to live and be remembered?
LibraryThing member infjsarah
Well written but somehow didn't rock my boat. I don't know why but I just didn't care that much about the characters. I was a bit MEH about it all.
LibraryThing member spinsterrevival
First things first: it’s likely already known, but Julia Whelan is an absolutely beautiful narrator and reads this gorgeously. For the story itself, at the moment I’m having lots of feels at its ending; the problem is that I didn’t have as many throughout the book. It sounds horrible to say
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considering she’s lived for three hundred years, but I didn’t feel as though there was much character development with Addie; I never understood her, and now I’m not sure if I was supposed to or not. Déjà vu comes up many times throughout, and I had the feeling that I’d read the ending before as well. The writing is gorgeous, and I enjoyed listening to it, but I’m not sure if I liked it. I think this is one of those books that is for a certain time in ones life, and I’ve already passed it; perhaps one day I’ll reread it and my thoughts will change.
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Pages

448

Rating

(1650 ratings; 4.1)
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