The Archived by Victoria Schwab
Series: The Archived #1
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult/
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Romance
Release Date: January 22nd 2013
Synopsis: 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.
Now, The Archived was a book I could really sink my teeth into. The novel had a unique story unlike any other I have read that is very easy to get lost in, and the atmosphere was very much like an atmosphere I would find in a very large private library– hushed and secretive, the only real difference being is that this book made me feel like there was a dead person peeking at me through a space between two books sitting on a shelf, which I found to be somewhat chilling.
In the back cover of The Archived‘s hardback, there is a picture of the Coronado, a old building filled with doors to the Narrows and memories from the past. Mackenzie, a Keeper and a girl struggling with the loss of her little brother, moves into the apartment building with her parents. What she finds there is a suspicious increase of Histories, the records of the dead, escaping into the Narrows and a murder mystery whose affects even ripple into the Archive.
The storytelling is remarkable, with slow pacing that had a pensive feel to it. And the wistful, gentle yet powerful prose that enhanced the many other elements of The Archived. I am thoroughly impressed with how engaging this story was. I really had a hard time putting the book down, especially when those exciting scenes with Mackenzie hunting in the Narrows, kicking History butt, or even just those scenes with Mackenzie walking through the Archive.
Victoria Schwab did a fantastic job with her world-building. It was inventive and creative. The two words of the Archive, a place where the dead rest on shelves like novels, and the Narrows felt dark and had a certain mysteriousness to them that only made me want to explore more, even if both worlds sent a little chill down my spine.
Mackenzie had a character that I immediately felt a connection to. I could feel how tired she was of lying, the emotional toll that her little brother’s death had on her, how jarring the move to the Coronado was to her, and even her frustration with all the suspicious things happening around her. All those feelings of hers felt painfully real and made a huge impact on me.
But, even with all that internal conflict going on inside, Mackenzie was a tough character. She possessed a strong determination inside her, and had downright awesome skills as a fighter and a Keeper. The reader can definitely count on her to get things done.
Wes was, well, he was great. Really, really great. I adored him, and the extra life and humor he brought to the story. I cheered (in my head of course) whenever he walked into a scene. And he perfectly fitted into place beside Mackenzie. I seriously want to hug the author for making such of a memorable love interest.
I only have two quibbles, quibbles with the romance and the villain. Wes is a great love interest that I am excited to read more about in the sequel of this book, but the Other Love Interest fell flat as a love interest. Then again, I’m not even sure if there was really any actual romance between Mackenzie and the Other Love Interest, as the whole thing is pretty vague.
The villain was just too easy to guess early on in the novel. So while I enjoyed the story very much so, the mystery became lackluster, because the villain is pretty obvious. I will say that this may not be so for other readers, since there are plenty of other suspects to point fingers at. I just happened to especially notice one character and thought him to be an obvious villain.
Schwab has created a very strong first book for a series. While it might have its flaws, it is highly absorbing and extremely creative. I have no doubt that lovers of the paranormal, and maybe even lovers of paranormal libraries, will love The Archived. And now it is time for me to go hunting for a door to the Narrows. Farewell! (Please ignore Lottie’s delusions.)
Note: The image of the back cover is from here.