Published by Titan Books
Published on 6 October 2020
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult
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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.
Although Addie LaRue is not YA, it definitely has some crossover appeal for older YA readers. It’s basically New Adult, similar in tone to For The Wolf (also an adult fantasy with crossover appeal if you consider New Adult isn’t a ‘real’ category, and that I reviewed on this blog), and that’s why I’ve decided to review it, even though this blog is for YA books – that’s why this review is on a Monday! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it :P. This is only my second Schwab book, and although she’s not elaborate or flamboyant, there is something for a quiet yet beautifully written story.
Addie LaRue is a masterclass in technically masterful storytelling. I definitely appreciated how the book was an enemy to lovers (but not romantic! I don’t think this was romantic fantasy – it was about Addie and her life, a character study, rather than the developing relationships between her and her paramours) and how that relationship grew over time, not just over Addie’s many years but over the course of the novel. Nothing was rushed, and the pacing was perfect. I kept marvelling over the flashbacks and foreshadowing and was in awe of Schwab’s ability to juggle and weave all that together. Every scene was perfectly in its place. No wonder it took her longer than normal to write.
I have taken 3 months to draft a book. This one is going on 8 years. Proof that each story has its own process, and there’s no right way to write.
And it wasn’t just technical mastery of plot and timing, but the word choices and how she strung them together and what they implied versus what they said was also masterful, and it’s not a writing style I see very often, being primarily a YA reader. Although it’s maybe classified as a long book, I didn’t feel like it was slow moving at all, because every scene added something to the story; it didn’t feel like there was any filler. And I mean, it’s a long life to cover, right? Addie is over 300 years old. That’s a lot of potential filler.
Although there is talk of love and need (especially from Luc, as if the two are mutual instead of completely different beasts), I don’t think this book is particularly romantic. Love and romance are two different things, and although I loved seeing Addie’s many, many dates, and numerous interactions with people she had feelings for at one time in her 300 years, I didn’t particularly feel like she was necessarily in love with any of them. Love means putting someone else’s needs before your own, and Addie never did that. I think this is what separates the book from YA – YA is about happy endings (I am not looking for debate on this, this is part of what separates YA from adult-oriented books, even adult-oriented books with child protagonists). Addie ended things knowing exactly what she was doing. It was not a happy ending – certainly not a sad one – it was somewhat bittersweet with the promise of her ultimate success. And she managed that because she still put her needs ahead of everyone else’s.
On the other hand, Henry – who I also think was not specifically romantic love (eros), though I did see affection and other kinds of love – was delightful because of who has was. He was a sweet, soulful, searching guy, he wasn’t particularly funny or outgoing and I really liked that. Quiet , unsure, glasses-wearing nerds hardly ever get any traction in the era of six foot four arrogant studs with blue eyes that melt panties of women and for some reason like the MC.
I loved how this was basically a study into Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: every day Addie sought food, shelter, and safety, which was difficult sometimes on account of being a woman – but her very curse is what afforded her protection in dire straights, which I liked. Eventually she sought companionship which was riddled with obstacles due to everyone forgetting her in a moment, on her way to finding self-fulfilment. She then recognised that she could basically dedicate herself to higher callings, and what else is left for her immortality but a love of art and stories?
I really loved watching her take every step through this and watching the tale unfold in a really organic way. It was an extremely pleasant way to pass the time.