There are some books that just can't be put into little boxes. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is one of these. When I read a book, I like to write a number of things down in my document about the books I've read for the year. If you check out my post on 2021's Reading Goal you'll see some of the things I like to keep track of. One of those things is genre. But what could I put for The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue's genre? This book doesn't fit into the box of any normal genre. It is fantasy, sci-fi, romance, and historical fiction. And yet it is none of these. It reads like a classic but it is much too modern (and published to recently) to truly be a classic.
There are good and bad things about the lack of classification that comes with the book. The prose itself is stunning. This, of course, is what makes me say it reads like a classic. The book is poetic and the author uses well-chosen words in each scene to paint a picture for the reader in the same way the authors of old did. I can only imagine how long it must have taken her to write such a book.
However, similarly to some of the old classics, much of the prose feels long and unnecessary. Worse than the classics, much of the plot seems long and unnecessary. Where is it taking us? What is the point? Why do we need to know this or that fact? I can appreciate stunning prose but I felt that the 140+ thousand word novel would have been better as a novella (50-80 thousand words). This style would have been more appropriate for the small amount of actual plot that was present in the novel.
Prose is like scenery. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue had a lot of slow, beautiful, descriptive prose like winding roads through rolling green hills. At first, it is lovely. But quickly, you begin to feel nauseous or you want a change of pace. Where are the mountains? The valleys? The waterfalls and deserts and marshlands? This variation is provided when there is a more varied pace in the plot including more action as well as more variation in setting/character description. Give the reader a desert on occasion and let them wonder at the details. Then lead them to a waterfall where you overwhelm them with the detail all at once. Next, spread them out, and make it a steep climb up the mountain with the description spread throughout the scene, hidden in nooks and crannies. For me, the setting and description of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue was there all the time beautiful, twirling around me in webs of spidery silk but blatant and constant all the same.
Perhaps I would have enjoyed the description more if there was more to the story but I was simply confused as to the point of it. There was a short (novella-sized) story about Henry and Addie, the conclusion of which was the conclusion of the book. However, there was a very large portion of the book that led up to the story and a large portion within the story that I found pointless (just two characters spending time together over and over). I felt that there were only small details from Addie's childhood that needed to be included in the book. Because there was so much more included in the book than the story at the center, it felt long and difficult to read (in a bad way).
I did however like the Luc character. This character was probably the books only saving grace. Luc was the only real original character in the story and it was his role that made the story more interesting. I liked the attitude that the author gave him and the relationship that she wrote for him to have with Addie LaRue. While there were parts of the relationship that disgusted me (which I won't get into so as to avoid spoilers), the way the two of them made their lives into a game, hoping to beat the other person was enjoyable to read about. The author would have been better to focus on their story. I would have read a book about them if only she got rid of Henry and found herself some more action to infuse the book with.
Of course, I have to mention the issue that most people have with this book. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is a lot like Age of Adeline and even has similarities with The Time Traveler's Wife. When I first heard of the book (which has become increasingly popular recently), I thought Age of Adeline must have been based on this book. It was not until later that I realized it was supposed to be a different story altogether. Why did she name her character the same name, then? In both Age of Adeline and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, a young woman named Adeline gets trapped in time, never growing older while the world around her continues to do so until one day, someone does remember her. In The Time Traveler's Wife, a man (Henry) time travels against his will and often travels to meet the younger version of his future wife. She falls in love with him throughout the years and he her despite their not being together all the time. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue takes the plot of Age of Adeline as well as the protagonist's name and stuffs in the plot of The Time Traveler's Wife (while using a name from that as well). Though the book is not exactly the same as either of these two, it is extremely similar to both (especially Age of Adeline) and I would be angry if I were the creator.