France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.
But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.
Let’s talk Addie LaRue for a second.
I’m a massive fan of Victoria Schwab. Like, huge. She’s a phenomenal writer, an excellent story-teller, and she manages to captivate me completely when I crack open one of her books. Gah, I want to be able to write like that!
Addie LaRue is an excellent story. Strong writing, beautiful depths, imaginative characters. And she tackles an issue I’m sure many people have struggled with at some point in their lives: the fear of not living and the knowledge of limited time.
For that, I appreciated this book. Truly, I did. And I loved it for that reason because that’s a theme that speaks to me right now: the fear that I’m wasting time.
I wanted to love this book. I truly, genuinely did.
But I’m not sure that I do.
Now don’t confuse me not liking a book for it being a bad book–those are two completely different things here. Writing is art, and art makes you think. This book accomplished that (boy howdy, did it accomplish that) but at the end of the day, it didn’t leave me with the sense of wonder that I come to expect from Schwab’s stories.
Maybe that’s the point, though?
Wonder doesn’t come from friends-turned-rivals finding the secret of superpowers or a man in a fabulous coat traveling through parallel worlds. It’s supposed to come from the simple things: waking up next to a person you love each morning or being able to pick up a pen and leave a mark on a page. The wonder comes from simply being alive, being able to connect with others, to have the chance to live.
And this book works as an alarm, a reminder, that you’re supposed to be grateful? That you’re supposed to appreciate what you have because it could be gone in the next second? That you fight for what you want, rather than look for shortcuts, but don’t get so caught up in dreams that you forget what truly matters. So lost in the nebulous what-if of daydreams and miss out on the magic you already have: friends, family, loved ones.
I’m sorry that this review has become less me gushing over the writing and more an existential book-induced crisis, but I think that just speaks to the power of this book.
It’s a thought-provoking, lyrical story about love and loss.
And actually, you guys, I think maybe I do love this book after all. 5 out of 5 stars.