Sunday, June 9, 2013

Review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

The Archived

Author: Victoria Schwab
Release: January 22nd 2013
Genre: Paranormal, Science Fiction, YA
#1 in the Archived trilogy
Sequels: The Unbound (#2), The Returned (#3)


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.


Holy shit. 

This book started out on a very unique premise, one I found really interesting and intriguing, add to that all the hype and good reviews the book has gotten, and count me in. After reading this, I can confirm everyone who has been praising this book and Victoria Schwab left and right. Yes. I now know what they know.

First, let me start with a point I usually mention at the end of my reviews: Writing. Victoria Schwab is an excellent storyteller, her writing was so poetic and intricately woven, the words came alive, danced across the pages and created such vivid images in my mind. I was blown away by her skill. I am definitely going to check her other books out.

Now, let's get on to world-building. Like I said, the blurb showed a lot of promise for something that I haven't read about until now, something other than werewolves, vampires and the like. And let me tell you, I loved the idea that she has had, and it made it possible for this story to be even more philosophical and life-changing, because there was so much meaning behind all of it, so much more depth behind the idea of this novel. Dead people resting on shelves in a special archive, all their memories there with them, being stored? That was amazing, and interesting to think about. 

Now, about the pace. For the first fifty to sixty pages, I wasn't really impressed and I started to panic: What if I won't like this? What if my expectations are just too high for this book, and I'm going to be disappointed? But after another ten pages, my interest was definitely piqued, and after hundred pages, I was hooked. I tore through this novel until I was done. I finished it about fifteen minutes ago, and now I sit here, writing the review and wanting more of this so badly. That ending, just... that ending!
So, yeah, it may start out a tiny bit slow, but it's definitely worth hanging in there, because it picks up and doesn't really stop. Furthermore, there is a crime to solve here, and I wrote in my reviews of Holly Black's Curse Worker trilogy how I absolutely love reading about mysteries and crimes and trying to figure it all out together with the protagonist, and have that feel of "I knew it!", or "WHAT" when the culprit is revealed. In this case, it was the latter, which was even more fascinating, as you can perhaps imagine. Anyways, I loved that aspect of the book very much, as well.

But now. Let's get to the characters. Ah yes. I absolutely adored Wesley, our first love interest. He was cute, funny and even though at times a little weird, especially what with his appearance and all, he was really amazing. I admired his determination and loyalty, and just his cheerfulness in spite of everything. The second love interest, Owen, was the mystery guy here, the one with the tragic past that we all sympathize with. I liked him a lot, too, although I was definitely on Wesley's side here. He was just more easy-going and alive than Owen, and I liked his rawness and realness. Owen does have a kind of rawness to him, too, but he's not all sharp edges like Wesley, he's more smooth, and I liked the sharpness a tad bit more. We have also, of course, our heroine, Mackenzie Bishop. She was badass. She was awesome. I'm having this streak lately where I love the heroines, what's up with me? I used to usually hate heroines. Wow. Anyways, she stood up for herself, she knew how to defend herself, verbally as well as physically, and she was, like Wesley, so raw and genuine, and that made her seem very real to me, I could identify with her even without having experienced anything she did in her life. She was just so lively. Finally, we have Roland, who is kind of her mentor-turned-substitute-parent she can confide in, as she can't really talk about all things concerning the Archive and her job as a Keeper with her real parents. He was so likeable and supportive and caring it was very beautiful to see how he was around Mackenzie. Always trying to protect her, but at the same time, back her up however well he could. He was just full of good intentions. The whole cast of characters was absolutely charming and charismatic, the book came alive with them.

Another thing I liked, beside the writing, were these kind of diary entries, where Mackenzie was talking with her passed Grandad. They were told, like the rest of the story, in present tense from Mackenzie's POV, and she addressed her Da in 2nd person, "you". It all added a great flair to the novel, with these flashbacks and the way she wrote them, made them, again as with the rest, really come to life. I adored those flashbacks.

In the end, I can say that I am eagerly awaiting the next book. And I hope that it won't end there, but that this is going to be at least a trilogy. I'd like that. The Archived took my breath away and I can now see why everyone is so excited about this book.

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