Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Review: The Archived

The Archived (The Archived, #1)
The Archived by Victoria Schwab
January 22, 2013
328 pages
Hyperion publishing
Source: Personal purchase
Genre: Young Adult
Goodreads Summary:
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.

My Review:

The whole concept of this book is quite fascinating: the dead resting on shelves like library books, called Histories, with Librarians guarding them, and Keepers keeping the peace by containing escaped Histories. The build up to understanding this world Ms. Schwab created felt thorough, but not immediate. She doesn't info dump on the reader, which I appreciated, but slowly builds things up, mixing current situations with Mackenzie's flashbacks to her training and time with Da. We also not only learn about this otherworldly place where these Histories reside, but learn about Mackenzie's current home and family situation in the 'real' world. Plus, the added creep factor with the dead and the tunnels and the weird hotel made everything extra mysterious. Ms. Schwab did a great job making me buy into this world and want to know more about it. I will not going into the depth's of the book's plot. I think the mystery of the book is too compelling and I wouldn't want to ruin anything.

I loved the characters. Mackenzie is strong and intelligent, but also real and troubled, still dealing with the death of her brother, the recent move of her family, and the Keeper lifestyle. She has to be so strong all the time, yet in this story we also see her weaknesses and struggles and how she is forced to deal with them, and the depth of the consequences of her choices. I absolutely loved Wesley and all his 'guyliner' glory. He helped lighten the mood of the story when needed, but he was also so strong and loyal. Every scene with him was great. I also loved the enigmatic Roland, and spent the majority of the story wanting to know his story. Plus, there are additional secondary characters that added so much to the story and never felt two-dimensional, even if they were only in the book for a scene or two.

My contradictory statement: I was able to put this book down about halfway through and read a couple other books in between starting and finishing it, meaning it wasn't un-put-down-able, but on the other hand, I was able to pick it back up, get right back into the storyline, and then actually become more thoroughly engrossed in the story and characters, then making it un-put-down-able at the end. So with that confusing mess, I'll say in the beginning it had a slow start and I wasn't completely immersed in the book, but by the end Ms. Schwab had won me over and I was captivated by the story and wanted more. So my recommendation: Give this book a chance and get immersed in this fascinating world Ms. Schwab created.



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