Thursday, March 13, 2014

Book Review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Title: The Archived
Author: Victoria Schwab
Publication Date: January 22, 2013
Publisher: Hyperion
Format: Hardcover
Links: Goodreads - Barnes & Noble - Amazon
SynopsisImagine 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. (Via Goodreads)

My Review

Mackenzie Bishop is a Keeper--a role passed down to her by her grandfather whom she fondly refers to as Da. A Keepers job is not easy, in fact it can be down right dangerous. Mackenzie keeps track of Histories--or copies of dead people that contain a person's history--ensuring they do not escape from The Archives (a library type system where Histories are kept) or the Narrows (the place between real life, known as the outer, and the Archives). Mackenzie takes danger to the next level when she becomes somewhat obsessed with the boundaries between the dead and the living. It doesn't help that someone is altering and messing with these Histories and the entirety of the Archive. 

I cannot tell you how long I have wanted to read this book--which is why I was super excited to finally see it on the shelf at my local library (it takes forever to get quality books!). I was intrigued from the moment that I read the blurb, but that intrigue was only slightly maintained while I was reading it.

I loved the whole premise of the story. It's so unique which is something that I think a lot of books are missing nowadays. Remember how everything at one point was about Vampires? And how dystopian type novels are all the rage right now? Well, this book falls into neither of those categories, which is great! It's originality allows it to stand out among the rest. It was an interest take on what happens in the afterlife and it really made me think. How interesting would it be to be able to read the Histories of other people? I mean, it's every single memory, every insignificant or significant detail of a person's life is preserved by a History--which is pretty much an exact replica of the person as he or she was in life. I can think of a few Histories that I would love to read. The story definitely gained points in my book for originality.

It also freaked me out a lot, but that's another story for another day--haha.

In general, I liked Mackenzie. She's smart and she's so brave (something that I totally am not). But she also has her weaknesses. Her feelings are so intense and so raw…I loved it. Wesley, Mac's love interest and fellow Keeper is great. He's a bit sarcastic and kind of a badass but he balances Mac out perfectly. Also, he's my new stand in boyfriend and I hope that he plays a bigger role in the second book in the series.

The writing was absolutely brilliant and beautiful and great and just every other positive adjective out there. I've never read any other books by Victoria Schwab but I had heard that her writing is deliciously haunting and just plain amazing. She definitely lives up to her reputation with The Archived. I would get so lost in her words and in the world that she created that most of the time I would totally forget how terrified I was until it was too late to put the book down anyway. Seriously…I DREAMT about this book. That's how I know a book is good--when it can creep into my subconscious.

Fair warning, this book is not for the lighthearted. There are a few violent scenes that I had to take a break at from time to time. And it forced me to focus on my own mortality from time to time. I also would not recommend reading this book alongside a similarly creepy book (I'm looking at you, Hollow City). However, I definitely do recommend this book. It is beautifully written, the plot is great and will draw you in, and the characters will become your friends.

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