Written by: Victoria Schwab
Published by: Hyperion
Release date: January 22nd, 2013
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal, Young Adult
Buy: B&N, Amazon
Add on: Goodreads
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.
This book. Is so. Good. I’ve been trying to write this review for EVER, but haven’t been able to find words because I loved it so much. So please bear with me as I ramble and try to put my thoughts together.
First of all, The Archived has everything I need in a book: depth, beauty, mystery, action, suspense, and fantastic characters.
So let’s start with the main one. Mackenzie is a teenager dealing with two huge losses in her life – first, the loss of her grandfather a few years before the book starts, and more recently, the loss of her younger brother. Dealing with these two issues would be enough for anyone, but she is also working for the Archive, which surrounds her with death (and the possibility of coming back from it) every day. She handles herself really well, but it’s not easy on her, especially after the loss of her younger brother. And she also has to keep her job at the Archive a secret from her parents, which as the book goes on, gets harder and harder for her to do. But even as she’s dealing with all these gut-wrenching things in her life, she is strong and fierce, and still allows herself to get emotional and scared, to grieve and get angry and break down — at the end of the day, she picks herself back up. Above all, I found Mac to be relatable and real, with her very fair share of flaws, but also someone we can learn from and admire.
Mac spends her time in two main places. There’s the 50s-era hotel-turned-apartments where she and her parents have just moved. There’s the Archive, “where the dead rest on shelves like books”; and the eerie, labyrinthine Narrows, endless hallways lined with doors, where Mac hunts the Histories that have woken up. These locations give the entire book a sort of dark, mysterious quality that I loved. Everywhere you turn, it’s old and eerie and full of history (or Histories, as the case may be). So even when there isn’t actual bite-your-nails action going on (there is that, too), there’s still a pervasive feeling of tension that’s just delicious.
The supporting characters in this book are amazing – Wesley is a truly great friend for Mac to have found, at the time in her life when she needs one the most. I love him (and not because of the guyliner thing… ok, well maybe a little.) Roland (DEAR, DEAR ROLAND) is a fantastic friend and mentor for Mac; after Victoria Schwab tweeted a Buffy/Giles comparison, I can’t get that out of my head – so yeah, he’s totally the Giles to Mac’s Buffy. Albeit a Giles whom I picture looking like the Tenth Doctor in a sweater-vest and red Chucks. Roland has got some serious surprises up his sleeve though, so watch out. Owen was another character that I (surprisingly?) really liked. There are surprises galore with him, as well.
Finally, the last and probably most important thing that I loved about The Archived is its complete originality. There is no other book out there that I can adequately compare it to. This is not the same ol’ YA book that we’ve all seen before (but still enjoy). It has a mythology that has never been written before, and it is beautiful. It’s something different and dripping with meaning and depth, while still being entertaining and exciting as all get-out.
I cannot recommend this book enough. If you’ve thought about picking it up, but put it off because you think you have better books to read – you’re wrong. Out of all the books I’ve read so far this year, The Archived is by far my favorite, and I’m pretty sure it’ll stay that way for a while. At least until The Unbound comes out. ;)