Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

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I have to admit I had little interest in this book until someone mentioned there are chapters taking place in the 18th century, upon which my interest skyrocketed. Unfortunately, the best I can say about it in the end is that I had too much fun bitching about it to quit – hardly a ringing endorsement.

The premise of the book is simple: Addie, in an attempt to get away from an unwanted marriage in the early 18th century, makes a deal with the devil, cursing her to live forever and also be forgotten by everyone, except the devil, who visits her on a regular basis. Until she runs into someone who can remember her…

Alright, to let the cat out of the bag: the author knows nothing about the 18th century. Absolutely zero research was done and it’s embarrassing. She repeats every single bad cliché on the bingo card, from the main character hating corsets, to her being considered too old to marry at the ripe old age of 23 (it was, in fact, common to marry at the age of 25 or older), to hating needlework, and more.

Though for me, the biggest example of the complete lack of effort is the scene where Addie is invited to a salon, where she sees Rousseau and Voltaire. In 1751. The year when Voltaire was in Prussia, busy crawling up the king’s ass. Which is easy to check on goddamn wikipedia. You don’t need my access to like five biographies and thousands of letters. I don’t mind cuts and rearrangements made for the sake of the story, but at least show you fucking tried. Scenes like this and the all the inaccurate clichés are just sloppy.

The other major irritant (if a related one) is that Addie was a completely unironic “not like other girls” stereotype almost to the point of parody. As mentioned, she dislikes both corsets (prefers to dress in male clothes, in fact, even though she knows she doesn’t pass) and sewing, and the only other girl in her birth village is boring and only cares about marriage and children after a certain age. I rolled my eyes. A lot. Not only does Addie read like a modern girl plopped into tthe 18th century (as sloppily researched as it is), even as a modern girl in the present timeline she’s a bad cliché.

The one blessing is that the history flashbacks got shorter and vaguer as we moved away from the 18th century, and since anything outside it is not really my area of expertise, I was also less able to spot the mistakes.

The present timeline was the most readable part of all, but even there, it was quite…bland. She meets the one guy who can remember her, they fall in love, they go to parties and bars, they try to make it work, and that’s pretty much it. New York slice of life. I have a hard time remembering any details. The ending was brave, but I don’t think it quite worked for me.

In short, I don’t think I can recommend this one.

Enjoyment: 3/5
Execution: 2/5

Recommended to: those who know nothing about history and are unbothered by an embarrassing lack of research, those looking for a romance subplot between two bisexual characters
Not recommended to: fellow 18th century nerds, anyone hating the “not like other girls” stereotype

4 thoughts on “Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab”

  1. I did not realise how inaccurate the history elements were! When I read the book I was definitely dazzled by the prose, but always had a sort of itch at the back of my mind that something was a bit off, but ended up giving it a relatively high recommendation – however, every time I’ve thought of the book since I’m left with a very ‘meh’ feeling and your review definitely pinpointed a lot of the reasons why! I don’t know how I didn’t spot how much Addie is the ‘not like other girls’ trope! I was definitely blinded by shiny prose and bisexuality!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I honestly didn’t even notice the prose that much, though it might be because I was too busy facepalming 😂 But I don’t really blame anyone for not noticing the history errors aside from maybe the corset thing – a lot of what I spotted, I spotted because I’m about a year into casually researching 18th century France, which I doubt is a common hobby lol.

      I did appreciate the bisexuality though!

      Like

  2. Spot on review. Addie visits Sacre Coeur church a century before it actually existed. She discovers a supposedly unknown crooner named Frank Sinatra in 1952 though the actual singer was by then a national star in the US. All of this stuff would take about 5 minutes to check online. Also I was expecting a sci fi book but a lot of it reads more like a Harlequin romance. Baddy La Ruined? MAddie La Rueful I wasted time reading this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hah, I didn’t even spot the bit about the church, but yes. Zero research was done. I don’t mind romance in my SFF at all though.

      Like

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