Monday, March 18, 2013

Review: The Archived (Victoria Schwab)

The Archived (The Archived, #1)
Title: The Archived
Series: The Archived, Book 1
Author: Victoria Schwab
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: January 22, 2013
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy
Told: mostly First Person (Mackenzie), Present Tense
Content Rating: Teen (some language, sensuality, violence, scary images)
Format Read: Hardcover
Find It 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.

*          *          *

Writing: Well written, smooth action. On occasion the dialogue was rather brilliant.

Setting: As far as I can recall, there were only three locations - the Coronado, the Narrows, and the Archives. That's it. As it's summer break, we never set foot out of these three locations (which, technically, were just the Coronado). And until I wrote this review, I never noticed. Ms. Schwab kept the entire story in three constricted locations, but I never felt constricted, and for this I give her major props. (If I'm wrong, please remind me where. I'm extremely curious!) There isn't much to the locations - in the big picture, they are vague and leave much to the imagination. But the beauty is found in the little details: the gargoyles on the Coronado roof, the chalk markings on the doors of the Narrows, the "Quiet Please" sign on the Archive desk. They hum among the blur and make each location come alive.

Story: It took a few chapters to get into, but by the middle I was burning through the book and hated to put it down. The story got a little complicated about two-thirds through with too many plot threads going at once, but it eventually smoothed back out. The climax was fast, and the end wrapped up nicely. Ms. Schwab closed it off as a complete book, but also left it open-ended for the sequel. The only thing I didn't particularly like were the journal-esque entries - I felt they threw off the momentum of the story since they were in a stinted, odd tense.

Characters: Mackenzie was a little too much of a tortured soul for me, what with her whole family situation, but thankfully her angst fell just short of smothering the story - most of the time. Ignoring the whole her-and-Owen situation, I otherwise liked her for the most part - she had strength and determination and her love was a fierce and almost frightening creature. I adored Wesley, with his playful attitude and intense loyalty. Owen was a bit of a mystery to me - I never quite got a handle on him, which made sense in the end. Da confused me the entire way through - I thought he was a her until Chapter 2, so my mental picture of him was always of a small chain-smoking old woman (awkward). And of course I liked Roland - who couldn't like Roland? ;)

: I didn't really get Mac's justification for her relationship with Owen. I mean, I knew why, but as she was also falling for Wes at the same time, I didn't like that there was no confliction in her. At all. One minute she's flirting with Wes with no thought of Owen, the next she's kissing Owen with no thought of Wes. She should have been conflicted in some way, have some overlap where she thought of one while she was with the other. Confliction is essentially internal conflict, and I felt she was missing some in this area.

Conclusion: I highly enjoyed this book, and will definitely be reading it again. And I look forward to seeing where Ms. Schwab takes the story and the characters in the next book!

Scribble Rating
4 1/2 of 5 Scribbles


  1. It sounds like an interesting read! I'll have to add that to my list. :)

  2. My co-blogger read this and really enjoyed it as well. I have had it on my desk for some time need, I just need to read it :) I am really glad Schwab ties up the ending, I am not a huge fan of unresolved endings.

    Ashley @ The Quiet Concert

  3. OOOOOOoo, I wanna read this one so badly! It sounds epic and wonderful and I loved your review!

  4. I am intrigued... though I also don't like the lack of conflict between choosing a boy. Not out of some deep seated need for monogamy, more out of respect to the both of them. Sounds good though! A library for the dead... *shiver*

  5. Ooohh, I keep forgetting that this is out! I've been intrigued since I heard the summary. That love triangle situation sounds a bit painful, but the rest of the book sounds absolutely wonderful! Thanks for the review Skye!

  6. I am curious now. I thought there was no way I would read this I just might.

  7. I started the free preview from NetGalley but couldn't get into this book. I've been meaning to give it another try though. Especially since you say you found the beginning a little slow too.

  8. This is one of those books that took me awhile to get into, but once I did, I could not put it down. I also recently met Schwab and that made me love her and her writing even more.