I picked up this book, The Archived, to read a couple of years ago. I had never read anything by Victoria Schwab (she goes by V.E. Schwab for her adult books) so I didn't know what to expect, but I was intrigued by the description of this book. It sounded rather macabre but fascinating. I ended up enjoying it quite a bit, so much so that I read the sequel as soon as I could get it from my library. The best thing that came out of reading this book was that I was introduced to an author that I enjoyed reading and I eventually read her Shades of Magic books, which I liked even better than these.
The Archived by Victoria Schwab
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Category: Young Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.
In this story the dead are called Histories and their bodies rest in a place called The Archive. Each body has a story to tell, and only the archive librarians can read them. Recruited by her grandfather, Mackenzie Bishop has been been working for The Archive for just four years. The Archive is a secret place that not many people know about so Mac has kept it a secret from the rest of her family just as her grandfather did. After her grandfather dies, Mac becomes a Keeper. When Mac discovers someone is deliberately altering Histories and erasing essential chapters she sets out to find out who is doing it and why.
The Archived is kind of like Warehouse 13 with dead bodies. The bodies are copies of dead people that contain the history of those people. Or picture a library with stacks of morgue type drawers containing these bodies instead of books. Sometimes these bodies wake up and escape and it's the Keeper's job to return them to the archive. The younger the body, or the more recent the history, the more restless they are and the more prone to waking up they are. The older the history the deeper asleep they are. Most of the time the older histories do not wake up. I liked that the older histories were asleep and kind of forgotten; a lot like real history is to a lot of people. How many times do we really think about things that happened a long time ago? Mostly we think about more recent events.
I thought this was a pretty original idea. I liked the character Mac and I also liked Wesley, even if I could have done without the guyliner. Yes, he wears guyliner. The biggest weakness of the book to me is that there is no real reason given for why the archive exists, other than it's the Keeper's job to protect the histories. It's kept a secret from everyone but the people who work in it or for it, so who really uses it and why are all of those histories stored there? It just kind of seems to exist for no reason. Despite that I enjoyed reading this so I am planning on reading the next book. Maybe the reason the archive exists will be explained in it.
The Unbound by Victoria Schwab
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Category: Young Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Last summer, Mackenzie Bishop, a Keeper tasked with stopping violent Histories from escaping the Archive, almost lost her life to one. Now, as she starts her junior year at Hyde School, she's struggling to get her life back. But moving on isn't easy -- not when her dreams are haunted by what happened. She knows the past is past, knows it cannot hurt her, but it feels so real, and when her nightmares begin to creep into her waking hours, she starts to wonder if she's really safe.
I thought The Unbound was a very good follow up to The Archived and I had a really hard time putting it down. I liked the way we get to see Wesley in a whole different light here. There was a side to his life that was hidden from Mac in the first book. Also the edition of some new characters was nice.
I do have a few of small complaints. One would be that Mackenzie keeps one bit of information from everyone including Wesley and Roland and there was no real reason for her to, except to create drama later in the story. Another is that there just doesn't seem to be any reason for the character Sako to dislike her so much, or Agatha for that matter. And I also disliked that Mackenzie kept wanting to protect Wesley like he was some fragile flower. But most importantly, did it answer my questions about why The Archive existed? No, not really. Despite those things I still managed to like the book quite a lot. The story is wrapped up pretty well in the end, but there looks to be a planned third book, although the author has said she doesn't know when it will be released. When or if it ever is I will most certainly read it.
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