Monday, February 11, 2013

Review: The Archived

The Archived by Victoria Schwab 
Release: Jan 22, 2013 
Source: ARC via tour (and also purchased)

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 he 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

The Archived was perhaps the most unique book to come out in January. It centers around two alternate worlds. The reality that we all live in and know, and The Archive. The Archive is a library of sorts, but it has one big different: there are no books on the shelves. Instead, there are "drawers" that house living representation of people who have died. Inside that form, lies all the memories of their life. These memories, or histories, can be read only by special Librarians. Occasionally, though, some histories escape and it's up to the main protagonist, Mackenzie, to keep them from infiltrating the tea world.  Because these are not the real people. They aren't even their souls. These histories are merely physical representations of their memories.

When a name appears of MacKenzie's slip of paper, she goes out into the Narrows (a land between our world and the Archive), finds them, and returns them through a door.

Honestly, the world building in this book rocked my world. I was confused, at first, but everything started to fall into place as I started reading. I admire Victoria Schwab for having such vivid imagination!

The plot itself is also very engaging. MacKenzie has been working as a Keeper for the Archive for a while, ever since her grandfather chose her as his replacement. Now, her grandfather and brother are dead, and MacKenzie has just moved into an old Hotel turned Apartment complex and begins experiencing a massive increase in names. More and more histories are being disturbed and are escaping. MacKenize dutifully does her job, until she begins to suspect that it's not so random. Her investigation leads to discover the Corodano's scary past. I can't express how much I enjoyed the mystery/adventure in this book.

I also appreciate the fact that she didn't bog the story down with silly romance. Yes, there ARE two guys, but it's not really a love triangle. Honest. I'll refrain from saying why because it's kind of a spoiler.

The main guy, though, is Wesley (aka guyliner). Now, normally I don't go for guys who wear eyeliner, but Wesley is super cool! I liked him almost immediately, and that's saying something. I also think that MacKenzie, while not a character that stands out, feels incredibly real. Her struggles, her doubt, and her strength all combine to make for a compelling protagonist. There's also one more character that I need to mention: Roland. He's a Librarian, and is very close to MacKenzie. He looks out for her, and truly takes on the role of father/grandfather figure. He's kind, wise, and just ultimately lovable in his red chucks.

I do have two minor gripes about the book, but it didn't really affect my overall enjoyment. First, MacKenize's parents know nothing about her being a "Keeper" and they know nothing about the Archive. Yet, her job requires her to leave for extended periods of time and her parents haven't caught on yet? This was never really adequately addressed, in my opinion. I also feel like the amount of flashbacks were a little excessive (especially in the beginning). It interrupted the flow of the story at inconvenient times. What's more, half the flashbacks didn't seem as if they added to the story's depth.

Overall, though, Victoria Schwab proves herself to be a fantastic writer. The premise was intriguing, the plot was inventive, and the characters were relatable. Her prose is descriptive, and yet never passes the point of being overly purple. I liked it a lot, and I can't wait to read more from her!


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