Monday, August 11, 2014

Review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

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.

          Ooo, where to start on these delicious characters? Mackenzie, or Mac, Bishop is the heir to a great and powerful legacy left by her beloved grandfather. Mac has been a Keeper, a highly skilled hunter of the histories that wake up, since she was young, and she considers herself very good at what she does. Her blunt, determined attitude and her almost complete lack of angst made her a very appealing character. In juxtaposition we have Wes, the goth, charismatic and strangely intriguing boy from who knows how many blocks over. Where Mac was silent and held her thoughts private, Wes went out with his personality on full display. But he too has experiences that have weathered him, and I look forward to exploring his depth in future books.
Characters: 4.5 Stars
          I feel like this book could be classified as a 'ghost' book, but I hesitate to label it as such. It's not about spirits, and, technically speaking, the histories stored, though they appear human, are not the humans who have passed on. But this compelling world and the situations created certainly leave no room to put the book down. While Mac grapples with the grief of losing her brother and struggles to hold her desolate family together, her world inside the narrows, collecting and returning the lost histories gradually falls apart. As the mysteries in her world and the eerie inbetween of the Narrows collide, she must decide whom she can trust and which friends to hold closer. Schwab skillfully weaves foreboding into a story rife with inner and outer turmoil, not to mention playing with the psychological aspect of being shelved after you're dead. The plot twists were not as twisty as I feel they were meant to be (In other words, I guessed them. And if I guessed them . . .), but they were still exciting and made for a very good story.
Plot: 4 Stars
          If I had to pick the one thing I liked best about The Archived it would be the unsettling, uncanny atmosphere Schwab created in the Narrows. It sent shivers up my spine and nothing too creepy even happened there! And on a final note, Schwab is  very good at pacing. The plot reveals weren't particularly dramatic, but she drew them out just enough for the intensity to build and played them soon enough that no scenes felt stalled. Overall I found it a very original and enjoyable read.
Style: 4.6 Stars

Rating: 4.4 Stars
Source: Library
Genre: Speculative Fiction
Length: 321 Pages
YA Fiction

Check out more from Victoria Schwab!

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