Monday, April 21, 2014

Review: The Unbound (Victoria Schwab)

The Unbound (The Archived, #2)
Title: The Unbound
Series: The Archive, Book 2
Author: Victoria Schwab
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy
Toldmostly First Person (Mackenzie), Present Tense
Content Rating: Older Teen (violence, heavy situations, mental unbalance, minor sensuality)
Format Read: Hardcover (library)
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.

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. 

Meanwhile, people are vanishing without a trace, and the only thing they seem to have in common is Mackenzie. She's sure the Archive knows more than they are letting on, but before she can prove it, she becomes the prime suspect. And unless Mac can track down the real culprit, she'll lose everything, not only her role as Keeper, but her memories, and even her life. Can Mackenzie untangle the mystery before she herself unravels?

With stunning prose and a captivating mixture of action, romance, and horror, The Unbound delves into a richly imagined world where no choice is easy and love and loss feel like two sides of the same coin.

*          *          *

Series: This is Book 2 in The Archived duology. It starts right after and continues the story thread of Book 1, The Archived. You can find my review of The Archived here.

Writing: Different; a little disjointed at times. Everything always felt a little detached, as if we weren't getting the whole picture. I think this was because the description rarely dealt in more than the two main senses - sight and touch - so sometimes the story seemed to be taking place in a kind of partial white space. Still, it was an interesting style and I enjoyed it.

Setting: There are two worlds: the normal world, and The Archive, where the dead's Histories are stored and people like Mac look after them. There were two main settings in the normal world: the Coronado, where Mac lives, and Hyde School, where she attends high school. All major locations were vivid and unique and pretty easy to picture.

Story: The main focus of the story was Mac's recovery from the events of The Archived. Sure, there was a mystery that she had to solve, especially since she believed someone was trying to frame her, but this proved merely the means to an end of her mental anguish (most of it, anyway). Because it was mainly about Mac's recovery, it was a heavy read for me, and I honestly grew rather tired of her struggle. I went into it expecting something much different (more adventure, much less angst), and was a little disappointed. However, it was still a strong read that I never once considered giving up on. I wouldn't be interested in reading it again, though.

Characters: Mac was a haunted, brooding, broken mess that would've been fine for some of the book, but since her downward spiral into a sort of madness was the main focus of the story, I had a hard time liking her. Her obsession to do everything herself got on my nerves, especially when Wesley was the best thing that could happen to her (and the story) and she wouldn't let him in. Thank God for Wesley, because without him I wouldn't have been able to stand her. As for Wesley, he was sweet and strong and the shining star of the book for what little time he was allowed to shine. Even though they were a great team, Mac was so intent on solving everything on her own and not dragging him into her mess that he got left behind by her and the story. If she had let him in a bit more, this could've easily been a 5-Scribble read.

Romantic Relationship: I was definitely a fan of Mac + Wesley, and there simply wasn't enough Macsley for my liking. I think the book would've been much better if he'd been more involved in the story, and with her.

Conclusion: A strong read, but it focused too much on Mac's haunted, brooding mind for me. Doubt I'll read it again, but I might be interested in another book in the series - if Mac and Wesley become Crew.

3 1/2 out of 5 Scribbles


  1. I just read the Archived and loved it!! However, I think it will take me a while to get to this one just because in a lot of other reviews the reviewers also say that it's a very dark and brooding book. And how it is mostly a character driven book since it focuses on Mac. I am just not interested in a book like that right now, so it might take me a while to read this one.
    Great review :D

  2. This book looks so interesting! The premise is amazing =D Thanks for the review, it was great to read.