“Books, she has found, are a way to live a thousand lives–or to find strength in a very long one.”
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.
TW/CW: Death, depression, grief, violence, attempted suicide, emotional manipulation, drug use, starvation, sexual acts for payment
When I first started this novel it was super slow and to be honest, I wasn’t really into it. I was really worried I wasn’t going to end up liking this book, the first 200 pages or so I thought this book was going to disappoint me. To my surprise, I ended up really enjoying this book, mostly the second half.
Although Schwab’s writing style is undeniably gorgeous, I found myself a little bored. I didn’t really see where the story would go. Until Henry showed up, then my attention was captured. I needed to know everything!
This is a very character driven novel, if you don’t like Addie then this would be a struggle to get through. It took me a while, but I did find myself attached to Addie and later Henry. This is a very slow paced novel, which isn’t typically my favourite thing. I do, however, really like character driven stories, so long as I can attach myself to the characters. Addie felt real, so very real. Schwab crafted such an amazing character and story; it feels like it should be real. You can tell how much emotion went into writing this.
I’m not typically a historical fiction reader, although I like history and learning about it, I prefer it in visual format usually. This book didn’t really change my mind, I found myself preferring the modern parts more than the flashbacks. It was interesting to see Addie through the different times, but the story felt stronger in the present to me. There were huge time jumps and lots left out, I feel like there should’ve been more interesting things going on in the past. I wanted a bit more plot, yes it’s character based, but there was room for so much more action and intrigue.
It’s a very emotive book. I found myself tearing up at parts (I didn’t fully cry) – I’m pretty heartless and don’t cry easily at books/tv/film but this hit me right in the feels. I had so many emotions reading this, it really does make you feel.
One of my complaints, is the repetition. There’s just so much repetition, it really could’ve been edited down a bit more. Like if I have to hear Addie has seven freckles like stars again, I’m going to lose my mind. It was kind of annoying. Also what Addie did in the flashbacks was pretty repetitive, which mad the book kind of drag in the middle.
Another complaint is the character development we see for Addie. You’d think over 300 years, living through so much would change a person, right? Well not Addie. She pretty much stays the same, which I find a bit odd.
Finally, the whiteness.
As a few other reviewers have noted this book is very white. In the novel, Addie spends all her time in Europe. There’s no POC mentioned or anything really. I knew this going in. It’s quite disappointing considering Addie lives through a lot of history, yet the history of POC is left out entirely. I was aware of this prior to reading, after seeing a lot of reviewers discuss this. So this didn’t disappoint me, as I already knew – but I’m still disappointed. If that makes any sense. ReadwithCindy makes some really good point in her discussion of the novel. It’s a tough call whether Schwab should have added POC. Like Cindy mentioned, she probably would’ve come under fire either way. At risk of writing POC poorly, Schwab didn’t write them at all.
Overall, it is a beautifully written novel. It has some really amazing aspects, but the pacing is a bit off. If you don’t mind a slower read, definitely pick this one up!
If the pacing hadn’t been an issue and it had a little more action in the flashbacks, this could’ve easily been a 5 star read for me. Alas, it wasn’t diverse enough and it was a little too slow going and took too long for me to be invested to gain a 5 star rating from me.
Rating 4 Stars
Disclaimer: I have previously worked with Titan Books. This was purchased by myself. All opinions are my own.