Review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

30 January, 2013 Reviews 20 comments

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Archived by Victoria SchwabThe Archived by Victoria Schwab
Series: The Archived #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on 22nd January 2013
Pages: 328
Genres: Horror, Paranormal Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

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.

I truly underestimated this book. You know how when you first read a book’s blurb and it totally catches your attention as something different and unique? You know that feeling right afterwards that can only be described nothing short of “Gimme Syndrome”? Yeah, that’s how I felt with The Archived. But for whatever reason, I got distracted and started picking up other books (you know how it is). Well, one day I was frolicking through my bookshelf, re-read the blurb and engaged the family in a battle of epic proportions for peace and quiet.

Jedi-kitten battle

I won. Obviously.

It was a good thing that I had managed to find this rare thing called reading time, because once I started reading The Archived, I didn’t want to stop. Oh boy, Schwab. I am a fan! The premise is so fascinating and fleshed out in the book, that you can’t help but to drink the descriptions in. Just imagine a library existing for people who die with the sole purpose of preserving their memories. Then you’d have these Librarians who would catalogue the dead and Keepers to Return the Histories (the dead) to the Archive (library). Like I said, truly fascinating and I think Schawb really pulled it off well.

Mac was a fantastic main character. She was smart, resourceful and very relatable. In the beginning, we learn that she has lost both her grandfather, who she refers to as “Da”, and her younger brother. The pain and grief that she feels for her brother, in particular, felt very realistic to me. There were scenes where she was desperate to hold onto her brother’s memory by clinging to items that once belonged to him. Her feelings of guilt for not being able to protect him, anger at her parents for attempting to move on, frustration at herself for not remembering every detail about him, all resonated with me quite a bit due to my own personal experiences. I thought Mac was brave for dealing with her grief while still upholding her Keeper duties and coming in contact with Histories everyday.

Speaking of Histories, I thought that was a really creative way to show a new kind of paranormal character. I would almost classify them as a ghost/zombie hybrid. They look exactly like their human selves except for their eyes. They talk, walk around in corporeal forms and are generally confused about their whereabouts. They also don’t know they are dead. (Yikes! Talk about being the bearer of bad news…) Because of that little complication, Mac has to sometimes fight the Histories, forcing them back to the Returns. If you are having trouble with picturing that scenario, just think of Cas hunting ghosts from Anna Dressed in Blood and you’ll have a pretty good idea.

The plot is where a lot of the magic in The Archived happens. Schwab really wove a great mystery together that had me flipping pages without letup. Since she created a world so different from what I usually seen in YA lit, I was completely surprised at the twists and turns. The ending to this murder mystery is something I never saw coming.

Oh and *high fives Schwab for the love interest* I LOVED Wes. Even though he didn’t get a ton of page time, I enjoyed the refreshing comical flare he brought to the story. I especially love how his existence didn’t take over Mac’s life. ‘Cause the girl had bigger fish to fry, like, say hunting Histories, making sure they didn’t escape into the real world and murder people in their sleep. Kinda important.

The only reason why I’m not giving out 5 stars is due to the beginning. It was a little slow and complex with the narrative mode switching back and forth. Sometimes Mac is narrating to the audience and other times she’s chronicling her past Keeper lessons with her grandfather, but it’s like she’s narrating to him (ex. “We used to do this or that together, Da.”) I adjusted to this style pretty quickly, but I can see it throwing off other readers a bit. However, hang in there because the flip-flopping tapers off pretty quickly as the story progresses. Not to mention the second half is simply phenomenal.

Anyway, brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. I definitely highly recommend people check out The Archived. It’s the perfect murder mystery to keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s the kind of book that had me thinking about the events long after I finished and now I’ll be desperately waiting for book 2.

ARC was received from the publisher. Thanks, Disney-Hyperion!

Steph Sinclair

Steph Sinclair

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
I'm a bibliophile trying to make it through my never-ending To-Be-Read list, equal opportunity snarker, fangirl and co-blogger here at Cuddlebuggery. Find me on GoodReads.

20 Responses to “Review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab”

  1. cynicalsapphire

    Wahhhhh, I really am the only one that didn’t like this. What’s wrong with me? It’s The Darkest Minds all over again!

  2. lilypondreads

    Lots of people seem to enjoy this one, wonderful review. I might get a chance to read it this year

  3. alexalovesbooks

    I’m pretty excited to check out this book! The cover is fantastic (and yes, that’s superficial, but that’s always been important to me when choosing what to read!). And the story sounds extremely unique and wonderful and all sorts of interesting!

  4. Shelver506

    Yay! I loved this book, too. My review will be coming up in a few weeks, but I think I like yours better. 😉

  5. FlyleafHeather

    Yep, loved it as well. What’s not to like? Murder mystery and ghostly/ potentially violent beings roaming dark creepy hallways known as the Narrows?  Loved Roland. I want to see more of him in future installments. I thought Schwab did a bang up job. Loved how different this story was from all the others paranormals out there. 
    And Wes! I confess to having a thing for boys who are into guyliner. I blame it on too many Cure concerts back in the 80s:)

    • Stephanie Sinclair

      FlyleafHeather Gah! YES! Roland! I loved him and his obsession with his read chucks. 😀 I really hope we will see more of him in book two. Thankfully, it looks that way. 
      Oh, guyliner is howt. I don’t even care what the people say. Ha!

  6. Wendy Darling

    Oh yay, you ended up liking this one! Well, loving it, it looks like. 🙂 I was worried since it took you a little while. I had mixed reactions to the first half but really enjoyed it once it got going, too.

  7. Lisa FicTalk

    I’ve liked Victoria Schwab from the time I started following her on twitter but I haven’t yet read any of her written works. Seems like a shame since I’ve read so many good reviews on both books now. 
    I remember seeing the blurb for this book and thinking this was something I’d definitely be into because it combines two of my interests; books and ghosts. lol. 

    Great review, Steph!

  8. Realm of Fiction

    Somehow I lost track of this book with everything else coming out this month. But I remember experiencing ‘Gimme Syndrome’, as you say. 😉 I’m glad you were impressed with this book in the end! My copy arrived yesterday so I may have to make a start on it sooner, rather than later. Brilliant review as always, Steph.

  9. Nikki

    This is such a unique concept for a book (and quite the lure for us bibliophiles, eh!?). I’m interested to see how Schwab fuses the paranormal elements with the suspense of the murder/mystery. It’s also nice to have a heads up on the slow beginning, to know that it eventually gets super good, I think that’ll prevent a lot of us from DNF’ing the book. Superb review, Steph!

  10. Renae M

    Yay, I’m so glad you liked this, Steph. I love that the premise and concept live up to to what was promised in the blurb. It’s also great to hear that Mac is an attention-worthy protagonist. And also: love interest whose presence doesn’t swallow the rest of the plot. Hallelujah!

  11. Kara_M

    Okay, so I cant read this review yet because I have not yet read the book, but I am so glad to see that you enjoyed it. And I also want to thank you for sending me your ARC. I received it last week and I Was very excited about that! If there is anything I can do for you ever, don’t hesitate to ask. And those aren’t just empty words. I mean that. 😀

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