by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I adored this book and thought the storytelling format it used was very interesting. I really enjoyed Addie as a character. We really get to know her through the book, which made her emotional journey and character development really engaging.
This book is one of the most character-driven stories I’ve ever read and it was handled just perfectly. I will admit that I didn’t enjoy the parts of the story that didn’t focus on Addie as much, but I did see why they were also important.
Full Review with Spoilers
This book blew me away. I always love stories that are really carried through by the characters and this one is by far the best one I have ever read. In reality, half of the book is really pushing the narrative forward, the other half is showing us the character development that happened prior to the stories opening. I can see how this might make it feel a bit slow, but I found this fantastic. I loved being dropped into the middle and not really understanding what was going on or really knowing who Addie is. As the story goes though, we really get to know Addie. The past segments start with her child hood and continue building a foundation from there. This moments hop forward in small chunks at first including to the moment she basically makes a deal with the devil, then gradually spaces out our views of her to greater and greater time gaps. We get to see the most significant moments in her 300 years of life, the ones that really shape who she is in the present moments of the story.
Because of this, we really get to know Addie and it makes her such a likable character to me. Her struggles really hit hard as her time living with her curse progresses and her wins are just that much more exciting. I do find it interesting too that, because her curse makes it impossible for anyone to remember her after she or they leave a room, the secondary characters play a really interesting part in the story. Addie has many people that come into her life, for long and short experiences, but we don’t get to know them extremely well beyond getting a “first time they have met” interaction multiple times. Addie on the other hand gets a sense of them that’s much more than a surface knowledge, since she remembers every time she talks to them. I love how this works, even if most of these characters don’t last in her life.
The big turning point is when she meets Henry, the only person in 300 years who can remember her and is immune to her curse, but only because he too is cursed and they sort of counteract each other. This is a great climactic plot point and the center focus of the forward momentum of the story. Emotions are running high because of how much is changed for the both of them. Naturally things don’t go well as this devil or demon or dark god, whatever he is exactly, is quite the trickster and nothing can work out for them. This devil, Luc as Addie calls him, is an interesting character as well and the only real constant in Addie’s life. The constant power struggle between them is complex. Enemies to lovers to enemies to lovers, and a constant hatred and need under the surface. I loved their dynamic and honest think that he ending up with him, even temporarily is the ending this book needed. The way she manipulated him to essentially get what she wanted was not what I saw coming but made total sense.
My only real issue I had with the book is that I just didn’t care that much about Henry. Once he is introduced there are several chapters that only focus on him and his back story. I get how important he was, but frankly I found him a wee bit boring and was much more interested in Addie’s life. I also wish that there had been a couple more moments included in the narrative of Addie’s life that deserved some attention. For instance, we know by the time of the current story in 2014 that Addie is bisexual, which in a life going on over 300 years it makes sense she would be. I would have liked to see the moment when Addie sees that as an option. Love and sex are such an important plot thread in her life and this is a side of it I feel deserved some attention as well, even if it only got a small amount of attention.
I absolutely loved this book. I do think it is slow paced with really mellow climactic moments, so I can see how it wouldn’t be for everyone. If you like character driven narratives and getting emotionally invested I highly recommend this book.