Thursday, January 31, 2013

[Review] The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Title: The Archived
Author: Victoria Schwab
Genre: Young-Adult, Fantasy
Series: The Archived #1

Hardcover, 336 pages

Publication: January 22, 2013 by Hyperion

Buy the book

Source: Publisher, arc

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

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. (summary via Goodreads)

Mackenzie is a Keeper protecting the boundaries between the dead and the living. When a person dies, a copy of that person is filed away in the Archive (like a library of the dead, and the deceased are like books on shelves). The deceased are called Histories because they are a shell of their former self, full of memories from the time of birth till death. Between the Archive is the Narrow, a dark and ominous place full of doors linking back to the Archive or to the Outer (our world, the living).  Mac and her family just moved to the Coronado (an apartment complex, converted hotel) after the death of her brother Ben. Mac’s job is to make sure Histories don’t escape to the Outer, and every time a Histories does escape it shows on a special Keepers list where she tracks them down in the Narrow. The older the History’s age the more out-of-control they are, and lately the age of the Histories keeps going up and up. It turns out someone IN the Archive is purposely ‘waking’ the Histories, and causing disruption from within to hide a secret that happened in 1953. Mac will stop at nothing until she uncovers the truth, or the Archive, and the History of her brother and her grandfather will cease to exist.

I haven’t read Schwab’s The near Witch, but after reading The Archived…I’m going to be adding it to my ‘To Buy List’!  The Archived was everything I ever wanted in a Fantasy-YA, it’s cleverly written, has a unique story line, and the beautifully detailed description that had the story leaping from the pages. The world of the Librarians, Keepers and Crews is fascinating and so complex but not to the point that it’s hard to understand. Schwab had a nice balance of information, detail and dialogue to keep the story from ever becoming lackluster and the pacing of the book was perfect.

The story is narrated by Mac and throughout the book there are flashback scenes involving Mac and her grandfather Da. The flashback scenes are short conversations between the two, from prepping Mac to become to a Keeper till the day her grandfather dies. I love these short scenes, readers are not only learning more about the secret world of the Archive, Librarians, Keepers, etc but also see the special bond Mac had with her grandfather. I love Mac, at the beginning of the book when Da picked Mac to be his successor, you can see how brave she is, so strong willed…all at the age of 12 (youngest Keeper ever, since the minimum age requirement to be a Keeper is 16). Mac is realistically describes as she tries to balance her two lives, a normal life on the Outer and as Keeper of the Archive.  She has to constantly lie to her friends and family, trying to keep the two world apart….but then one day she meets Wes another Keeper. She never met another Keeper in the Outer before, and what she realizes is it’s harder to keep the line between her two lives separate, the line begins to blur. What I also like about Mac is that she’s not perfect; while she is a ruthless Keeper…she does make mistakes that affect not only herself but the Archive as well (don’t want to go into detail, is spoiler-y).  Then we have the love interest Wes, when I first read the description of Wes…black hair, dark brown eyes, black nails and eyeliner….that totally screamed BAD BOY! LOL. He’s funny and devilishly charming and NOT a bad boy…he just looks the part. Every time the two characters interacted, I can’t help but smile and laugh because Wes always has something clever to say on the tip of his tongue.

This is an amazing book, one that will stay with you long after you read it. I honestly don’t think my review does this book any justice lol…you really have to read it to understand how special this book is. Schwab pens one of the most captivating young-adult novels I’ve ever read. A multifaceted world, interesting and well-fleshed out characters, intriguing- plot line, a suspenseful-murder mystery and an original fantasy concept that will appeal to readers of all ages (where does one go after they die? A library like room that houses the deceased like books on a shelf?!). I am so thrilled to hear that this is the first book in a planned series; I can’t wait for more Mac and company! I highly recommend The Archived to everyone; you definitely don’t want to pass this one up. If you already have the book, but haven’t read it…push it to the top of your TBR pile ASAP! Thank you Ms. Schwab for writing such an ingenious book, I applaud you! 

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