“Three words, large enough to tip the world. I remember you.”
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.
I wanted to like this book so badly and I quite enjoyed the first half. But, unfortunately I can’t join the hype train; as much as I wanted to be one of the ones to be yelling about how amazing this book is. And that’s the worst part. I was so excited about this book.
The premise was solid and Addie was an interesting enough character. The writing was beautiful and lyrical, though considerably repetitive, and I was interested to see what Addie would make of her life when she couldn’t be remembered. But, as I got farther in, the story faltered for me.
Around the half-way mark, little things started to turn me off from the story and from the characters. Two things happened which majorly quenched my enthusiasm for the book:
1) Addie LaRue has anti-feminine sentiments for no reason.
For most of the book, she’s been this free-spirited, old God worshipping lady, who wants to subvert societal expectations because she wants to fully experience life. And she also hates corsets…
As someone who went through a “I’m not like other girls” phase and rejected all things feminine for a large chunk of my adolescence and who’s now worked through her internal misogyny to reclaim her more “girly” side with pride and power, it’s disheartening to see time and time again this rejection of anything feminine by female characters. On top of that, it’s not historically accurate.
Corsets were not these torture devises meant to keep women from breathing properly or damage their internal organs. No. They provided breast support while also supporting the spine and providing the wearer with the most fashionable silhouette without much effort. Now women go on diets to try and fit the most fashionable size.
But I digress… that’s another tangent for another day.
Addie’s personality flattened as the book continued on. It seemed her only personality traits were being alluring and pretty. And don’t forget the freckles.
I guess when you live for three-hundred years with the shallowest human contact, you don’t really need to have a personality. Or maybe everything about Addie’s personality was brushed over so she could be swept away by Luc every scene she wasn’t with Henry. But, it became increasingly tedious to read.
2) Henry is so boring
Henry, our love interest, is part of the great premise of the book. He remembers Addie. When he was first introduced I was so excited. But, then we got his backstory and a whole section of just him and I completely lost interest.
At first, he’s introduced as this sensitive character, and as a highly sensitive person myself I was all for it. But, I quickly came to realize that he doesn’t actually have a personality either. Depression and anxiety clearly play a role, but it’s hard to read a character who doesn’t want anything or doesn’t seem to do anything but sulk. His self-pitying lack of personality made him an almost non-character. I didn’t see the point of him besides being a foil to Addie.
Reading his chapters was a struggle because there was nothing in his character that made me want to root for him. He lives a life where nothing quite works out for him and people are disappointed him and his girlfriend of two years doesn’t want to marry him. But, all he did was obsess that he wasn’t good enough. His personality doesn’t seem to exist outside of when he meets Addie and they fall in love (instantly if I might add).
Other than those two things, the second half of the book began to drag. As I mentioned before, the writing is so repetitive at times that I wanted to pull my hair out. If I read that Addie has seven freckles spread across her cheeks or about Henry’s black curls one more time… The pretty writing couldn’t save itself from itself.
As we continue to watch Addie’s life in the past and present, we don’t see Addie doing anything. She’s been granted the ability to see the world and all we see is Addie doing basically nothing. There’s so much history in the last 300 years, which Addie could be a fly on the wall to, but Schwab continues to show us small snippets of Addie’s non-existence in France. There’s so much wasted potential and that’s one of my top book pet-peeves.
So much of this book felt painted on or contrived. From Addie’s extremely basic personality, to how she can seduce anyone she wants and everyone seems to want her–even a darkness god thing wants her. The romance between her and Henry was contrived and purely based on how he can remember her and how she’s… pretty? But, of course that connected to [spoilers].
To be fair, the ending was nice. It wasn’t really enough to salvage the entire book, but it redeemed Henry for me a little–though, it did almost the exact opposite for me with Addie. But, I think it was a decent enough ending considering everything that had led up to it.
If instant love and pretty writing do it for you, then you’d probably like this book. But, I’m over it.