Title: The Archived
Author: Victoria Schwab
Rating: 8.5/10 (What this means)
Publication: January 2013
Recommendation: Read it. Highly enjoyable.
My Reading Method: 1st Edition Hardback (Purchased on Amazon for $9.85)
“Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.
Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.
Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what she once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.
Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.
In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.”
***WARNING-MY REVIEWS OFTEN CONTAIN SPOILERS! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!!***
First of all, this book is GEORGIOUS. Seriously, I audibly “Ooohed” and “ahhhed” as I unwrapped it from my Amazon packaging. Deep blue cover, silver embossing on the spine, bold black and silver design on the inside cover, and deep black type throughout the book… it simply FEELS good. Know what I mean? I’m aware my item (FRBR, anyone??) is a little unique unto its own, but I fully believe that I got a quality product.
Sooo, The Archived… I decided to buy this book after standing in line for The Unbound at ALA completely by accident. I was wondering around the exhibits and suddenly I realized I was standing behind a congregation of people and suddenly an even longer line was forming behind me. Now, this was my first ALA and to be completely honest I thought I was failing miserably at finding the coveted ARCs. I already missed out on several things I had my eye on because I wanted to attend the sessions, but I thought ‘what the hell’ and decided to see what all the fuss was about with this Victoria Schwab character. (In fact the woman behind me kept asking me if this was the author I was excited to meet and kept talking about The Archived to an extent that I felt the need to secretly look the book up on my phone just so I would have some way to respond.) By the time I collected my book I was convinced that it was a series I wanted to read and ordered The Archived by the time I got back to my hotel.
Sooo… The Archived…
Terms you need to understand:
- Histories- The memories of a dead person contained in a body much like the one they had when they died. A History can be woken and escape The Archive
- The Archive- Where Histories are kept
- Librarian- Person that works in the Archive, knows how to read Histories and was promoted from Crew
- Keeper- Person charged with hunting down Histories when they escape
- Crew- A promotion from Keeper, and they work in teams of two to hunt down dangerous Histories that escape into the Outer
- The Narrows- hallway between the Archive and the Outer
- The Outer- The world as we know it
So, the book blurb by the publisher does a pretty good job explaining the plot: Mac has been a Keeper for several years after her grandfather (Da) passed on the title. Her younger brother recently died and in her family’s grief, they move into a new apartment in an old hotel, The Coronado. Here, the story begins.
Things I liked about the book:
This was a new idea. Victoria Schwab does an excellent job of weaving together a story that I’ve never heard before, which made it incredibly interesting to read. I was absolutely convinced of this world’s existence without having any prior knowledge of the titles and places. I personally believe that supernatural beings such as vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and angels are extremely overused in teen literature at the moment and it was nice to have something a bit different for a change. (Not that there’s anything wrong with mythical creatures, I’m merely finding them a wee bit boring as of late.)
Mac is easy to relate to. Sometimes she behaves a tad recklessly but she isn’t the girl that needs to be rescued, which I appreciate immensely. Also, she reads like someone you might actually know. She isn’t overly smart, or brave, or strong, or beautiful, or anything really. She’s very much a basic girl doing an incredibly interesting job.
Ditto her parents. The Bishops are totally a family you can relate to, with quirks, eccentricities, and underlying issues. Of course, I found her mom to be a little irritating, but I figured that it was kind of the point. After all, how many teenage girls aren’t at least a little annoyed with one of her parents at all times? I imagine it’s fairly standard.
This is a fast paced book. It took me a little longer to read than normal because (in addition to holding a normal job) I am in the process of moving. However, the story is very easy to get lost in and has the potential to be a one-sitting kind of read if you have the time.
This is not a teen romance, and I could not be more appreciative. This is truly an interesting enough story without the love story. Expect maybe three or so pages worth of kissing, etc (at most!).
Things I didn’t like about the book:
There was nothing I absolutely loathed about the book. The first half is a little slower than the second, but mostly that’s because you’re still learning a lot about Mac, her family, and the Keeper world. You can expect lots of action in the second half, though so be prepared to be glued to your seat.
Additionally, I’m not a huge fan of books that jump back and forth in time. I find books that act in this manner to be very jolting to read. Yet, it is well done and the sections are separated with a different type so you’re never confused. The ‘past’ sections also typically occur at the beginning of a chapter and provide a nice little foresight into what is about to happen in the next chapter.
Teensy bit of a love triangle. Ugh. Those are the worst. BUT it is not long lived and I think the reader isn’t pulled in two directions for long.
I am so glad I got lost in the exhibits at ALA and found The Unbound! The Archived was very enjoyable and I can’t wait to read the second. I highly recommend adding this book to your summer reading list, and would imagine that it would be appropriate for any ages 12 and up. I also believe that adults that cross over into the YA section will find this book enjoyable.
Next on my to-read list: Marie Lu’s The Young Elites.
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