Book review and synopsis for The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab, a whimsical fantasy-romance about a young woman who makes a deal with the devil.
SynopsisIn The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, Addie LaRue is a young woman who trades her soul for immortality and a life of freedom. She will can live forever, but no one can remember her. It's a bargain she strikes with the devil out of desperation and a desire for more. Three hundred years later, Addie has learned to survive, but is still living a mostly invisible existence. Then, she walks into a small New York City bookstore, and meets a man who can remember her name and face.
(The Detailed Plot Summary is also available, below)
Detailed Plot SummarySection-by-Section SummarySee the Section-by-Section Summary of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRueQuick Plot Summary
The book switches between the past and the present to tell this story.
In Part One, we meet Adeline "Addie" LaRue, who was born over 300 years ago, in Villon, a small french village. A local woman, Estele, taught her about the old gods, but warned her not to call on them after dark. Estele also told her she had seven freckles, one for each man she would love some day.
In 1714, Addie is 23 and engaged, but she longs to be free. As she prays to the old gods, the night falls and the devil answers. Addie asks to live freely and to have more time. As a gift, she offers her favorite possession, a carved wooden ring, but the devil rejects it. Instead, she offers the devil her soul when she is done with it, and he accepts. She is given eternal life, but no one can remember her (she wanted to "live freely"). As soon as she leaves their sight, they forget her.
In present day, Addie survives by stealing and sneaking into others' apartments to sleep. She can't give people her real name or tell her story. She also cannot keep a home or keep possessions. The exception is a wooden ring, which she cannot get rid of. She walks into a used bookstore to steal a book, but is caught by the clerk, Henry. But he lets her take it anyway.
In Part Two, the devil appears yearly, each time asking Addie if she's ready to relinquish her life and her soul. Each time, she declines. He takes on the form and name, Luc, of an imaginary stranger Addie once daydreamed about. Addie learns to survive and navigate her new world. In present day, Addie sees Henry again, who recognizes her, and they go on a date.
In Parts Three & Four, Addie continues to see Henry. When Henry's friends don't recognize her, Addie tells him the truth about her bargain with the devil. To her surprise, Henry admits to Addie that he, too, made a deal with the devil a year ago. After getting his heartbroken, he asks to be loved in exchange for his soul. Since then, everyone sees him as whatever they want to see. His exes ask for a second chance and he's offered a job he's completely unqualified for. He realizes that people love him, but they also don't really see him. It's not real love. But Addie seems to genuinely see him.
In Part Five, Henry begins to write down Addie's story, with Addie dictating. Meanwhile, in the past, the book describes Addie and Luc's relationship over the course of over a hundred years from the 1700s to the end of the 1800s. Addie travels across Europe, with Luc visiting usually on July 29, but he skips some years. He occasionally will rescue her from a sticky situation, claiming he wants to be the one to break her. Or he'll whisk her off to some place. Addie accuses him of being lonely and in want of company.
In Part Six, in 1914, Luc admits to liking Addie's company and gives her a wooden ring so she can call on him. She finally uses it in 1944 when she gets captured during WWII. When he comes to visit in 1952, he admits to wanting her. They end up in an affair which lasts for years, and Addie falls for him. He says he loves her. In 1980, Addie asks Luc to release her from her deal. He says it requires her to surrender, and Addie lashes out at him and they fight. Luc doesn't appear again for 40 years.
In the present, Addie learns that Henry's deal was only for a year. After that, he'll die. He has a month left. Addie calls on Luc to beg him to change his deal with Henry. Luc refuses until Addie promises herself to him in exchange for releasing Henry. Luc accepts.
In Part Seven, Henry lives and writes a book based on the stories that Addie has told him. He publishes the book, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, as fiction and without an author. Luc thinks he's won, but Addie knows that her new deal only requires her to stay with him for as long as he desires. Addie plans to break his heart and drive him away.
For more detail, see the full Section-by-Section Summary.
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Great review! I have the ARC that I need to get to. I’m equally nervous and excited.
thank you! hope you enjoy it!
Interesting review, but I’m not sure how not being interested in children, family or an occupation is childish? A lot of people, no matter their age, aren’t interested in children or having a family (which is why those people don’t get one. They are content with their friends or with being alone.). And a job is something we get because we need the money to live – most of us don’t get it because we are interested in the concept of an occupation. It’s another thing if her behaviour seemed a bit juvenile, but having different interests than the author of this review really doesn’t mean the main character is childish.
Pity that this book doesn’t sound like something I’d be interested in. I’m sure it’ll have a lot of fans though.
I’m not saying she should be interested in all of those things (note that I said “or”, I was just giving examples of types of things adults typically care about), but only caring about cool parties and hooking up is fairly childish
I know this comment is rather late, but your statement about the life expectancy of men of the time is innacurate. Life expectancy has always been a misleading thing, because it is greatly skewed by the infant mortality rate. In those times, there was a much greater chance that an infant would not survive childbirth. That large number of children who died very early in life brought the life expectancy number way down when averaged. This still happens today, but to a much lesser extent as we now have a much greater chance of our children surviving childbirth. If this man managed to live through adolescence, there is a great chance he would have outlived the life expectancy of 25 by a number of years. I will admit, 51 still is a bit old for the times, but a number of people who lived then still managed to live to that age and more, just as some people now live to be well over 100 and still completely healthy. I personally found a lot of things in this book dull, and inaccurate at times, but this man who lived to be 51 did not strike me as odd in any way. Thank you for reading :)
Hi, thank you for the thoughtful comment. I’ve removed that section in response to your feedback, but I’m going to leave your comment since I think it is a good one. Thank you for your contribution!
Thank your for your detailed review! I’m a little over 100 pages into the book, and I’m bored. So I searched for a full synopsis to help me decide whether or not to keep reading. I’ve had so many of the same thoughts– Addie’s immature, in spite of the fact she’s over 300 years old; Henry seems like such a weak character to me; it’s super repetitive. Reading it has reminded me that popularity on Goodreads is not a very good measure of a book. Thanks for saving me several hours of seeing if it’s going to get better when there’s so many other phenomenal books out there.
Which theory is used in the novel Invisible life of Addie
Are you missing the point that for those 300 years , she couldn’t even establish a relationship with someone . So how would she mature? Her encounters had no memory of her. Each meeting was the first. I found it interesting how the author gave us bits and pieces of what that experience was like over time. Every encounter with her is a first . She doesn’t age. She appears to be someone’s one-night stand . It’s painful. She can’t leave a mark, unless someone else paints her image. The book is beautifully written and deals with our need to make a mark in the world, a need to connect, a yearning to be remembered . So much to think about in this book . Romance, sci fi, philosophy, beautiful lyrical writing. While I have read other books on immortality, never one with this unique curse of being totally forgettable. So well constructed from start to end, including the side theme of her image being captured in art over the centuries with Bea tracing these pieces and the recurring image of Addie. The ending is also an interesting twist. An amazing book!
I’m a little shocked that no one has made the connection between the movie, Age of Adaline, and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. Although the movie came out in 2015, it seems like both plots are the same. A white, relatively young woman as the heroine struggles to find a stable relationship with someone who “gets it,” all the while never aging and always having to be on the run. It seems like V.E. Schwab took the premise of the movie and ran with it, only to change the “accident” that alters the course of her life. The names of the characters are essentially the same too! I would love to hear other people’s opinions of this.
I have to say I disagree with your criticism over the repetition in the book. I believe that was part of the experience of the book. We are supposed to be following the story of a woman who has lived for 300 years, she’s going to experience things many many times, and us reading through a small fraction of the times she experienced them is part of what takes us into her story and lets us understand where she’s coming from. Having to have a little patience isn’t a bad thing. For my part, I might have grown a little bored with some things but the story held me fascinated, especially with the beautiful language the author used.
100% agree with your critiques, but I would go further and say that it’s not worth the read. 400 pages of a 300-year old sex-driven teen is just a waste of time in my opinion.