Fiction, Paranormal, Young Adult

Review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

The Archived book cover
Image from Read & Riot

Title: The Archived

Author: Victoria Schwab

Genre: Paranormal, maybe?

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop to the Archive when she was 12 years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was: a ruthless Keeper, tasked with keeping the often violent Histories – the life stories of dead people – from waking up and getting out. 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 may crumble and fall.

I liked the idea of this book – a library that stored dead people instead of books – but I’d passed it up in the library before because of my crazy schedule and a backlog of other books to read. But I finally got around to it when I started looking for vacation reads.

I enjoyed Mackenzie. She could fight and sneak around and was a dang good liar. But she felt bad about it (sometimes), and had a whole heck of a lot of emotions to deal with. The most surprising (and the best) part about her was that besides the Archive, she was oddly normal.

Wesley, Mac’s friend who always seems to be hanging out around her apartment building, was fun and very unique. (The guy wears eyeliner, for goodness sakes.) But despite his distinctly Goth appearance, he was really enjoyable. And dang, did he have a great sense of humor!

I think the back cover gave away way too much. It wasn’t until about the one-third mark that sabotage comes up. The first part was me getting acclimated to Mac’s world (both her home life and the Archive, which I don’t think I ever figured out all of) and Mac being confused by a bunch of weird things happening with escaped Histories. It was original and brilliant and I didn’t want the book to end.

At about the halfway point, I had the saboteur narrowed down to two. I hadn’t even considered who really did it. So the ending caught me completely by surprise – and then I realized I should have seen all the clues.

I absolutely loved the Archive. It was like a cross between a library and a crypt, but full of secrets and dangerous stuff. It’s a library where the books can wake up and kill you. Plus the books are really the memories of dead people. It’s really creepy and really awesome at the same time.

Maybe it’s because I read this right after the unremarkable Teardrop, but The Archived seemed brilliant and fascinating and utterly unique. It’s definitely the most unique concept I’ve come across in a while.

I’m not sure a sequel would be the greatest thing (The Archived wrapped up solidly, plus there’s the drag-a-good-book-on-too-long risk), but if Victoria Schwab did happen to write one, I’d be interested.

UPDATE: There is a sequel, The Unbound, coming out in January 2014.

The Archive series:

  1. The Archived
  2. The Unbound (January 2014)
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