Thursday, January 24, 2013

Review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab (ARC)

The Archived (Archived #1) by Victoria Schwab
Disney-Hyperion, 336 pages
US Release Date: January 22, 2013 (go buy it!)
Format: Print ARC
Source: ALA Annual 2012 - thank you Hyperion!

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.
------------------------Goodreads summary

Notable Quote
Ignorance may be bliss, but only if it outweighs curiosity. Curiosity is a gateway drug to sympathy...
The Archived is unlike anything I've ever read before. The concept itself was fascinating and immediately drew me in - mostly because I couldn't help but think of drone-like shells of people sitting on shelves, heads drooped in sleep mode - and I have to say, it did not disappoint!

It baffles me that people refer to this book as a Dystopian, because I just don't see that anywhere. It's hard to pin down, actually - a little bit fantasy, a little bit science fiction and paranormal, a little bit thriller and mystery. Whatever way you want to try and categorize it, just know that you will find something you like within it. My favourite part was the concept of The Archived itself and how Histories can be woken to the point of escape. It's such a clever, unique idea, and I can't wait to see what the rest of the series will bring to us.

I'll admit that it took me a little bit of time to get into the story - while the beginning is necessary by ways of explanation, there was something just a little too slow for me. But past the first 50 pages, I was absolutely, totally in. I highly suspect that Victoria meant it to be that way, actually - it made getting caught up in the story that much more of a whirlwind. Suddenly, your heart is pounding as she's in the narrows and hunting Histories, and you're screaming at the book for her to turn around, he's got a knife!

If I told you that I actually got scared by this book, would you believe me? Because you should. And it's not like it's an exceptionally scary book, or made to be terrifying or horror. Because it's not! But there was something about the writing and the scenery, the Narrows and how I imagined them to be the stuff of horror movies (dim hallways, fog drifting and lighting up only certain white chalk marks and vague doors that lead to God-Knows-What...), how it's about dying people who have been disturbed and are now trying to figure out where they are. Add in the idea of Keepers being able to read people and their pasts through a simple touch, and my imagination just goes wild. It is thrilling, in a disturbingly awesome way.

And...ok, we have to talk about the boys. Wesley first, since OMG I WANT HIM.  Guyliner and all (actually sometimes it can be hot...but we'll pretend I never said that). He's so hilarious and witty and surprising - sometimes a little too perfect, but I can accept it here because it works so well off Mackenzie. I'm not going to give away what part he plays with the whole thing, but...I believe in him. I believe in his abilities and his personality and his support and what he can do and omg can I just have him in my life, PLEASE?!

Moving on to Owen. Who I'm not going to say what he is or does either, but...I knew it. I KNEW IT. How dare Victoria toy with me in regards to him! I was so on the fence, and then I was so certain, but then it was all ripped away, but then I doubted the ripping...he's a fantastic character for getting me all riled up and invested. He's such a mystery, and then when I finally learned what he was doing, I wished so hard it could go back to the mystery. I hate him as much as I love his role.

But this story isn't just about boys, no matter how much I'm making it seem so. It's about love and family and how that can transcend the planes of existence into the Archived and what that bond can do. It's about friendship and coworkers and teams and just what is done to maintain that. It's about the belief in yourself and what you can do, and what you need to do to maintain who you are to those around you and who are you to yourself. It's about strength, and weakness, and how often one of those needs the other.

I am so excited for the rest of the series. I'm glad that Victoria says she doesn't do cliffhanger endings, because I seriously think a little bit of me would have died if she'd ended The Archived any other way. But how she does is a perfect setup for what's to come, too. There are still so many questions I have, and I love how much we learn about The Archived and its "employees" towards the end. Definitely whet my appetite, and I am going to be anticipated Book 2 like crazy now!

PS. MAJOR COVER LOVE. One of my favourites yet.

5 Stars


  1. Glad you enjoyed this one too, Ashley! I loved the world building Schwab created. Whenever I thought about the Narrows I thought about the Briars in Kagawa's Iron Fey series. Totally unrelated (since The Archived is not a Fey story) but the darkness and creepiness of the place (and even the names) reminded me of each other.

    So many people do not appreciate the concept of guyliner!! Gah, boys in a little makeup can be hot! ;) But I did grow up during the 80s and attended a lot of Cure concerts...:)

  2. I'm DYING to read this one! I really need to go out and get myself a copy so that I can indulge in Victoria's beautiful writing, and read this book that everyone I trust appears to have loved.

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  4. wow 5 stars, have to read this book then :)

  5. This book has always intrigued me--its unique concept totally drew me in, and I'm so glad to see you loved it! I'll be sure to read it now :)

  6. Oh man... I used to love guyliner so much... At some point I grew up and now I like a man in a well-cut suit (WHEN did that HAPPEN?) but for YA thinking back to when I was a teen... guyliner and girl pants and an attitude problem all the way. This sounds so good. I don't know why I haven't gotten to it yet. I am so bad at getting to books lately.

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