January 22, 2013

Book Review: The Archived

Title:  The Archived
Author:  Victoria Schwab
Length:  304 pages
Publisher:  Disney*Hyperion
On-Sale Date:  January 22, 2013
Format:  ARC paperback

What if a copy of you – your History – lived on after death?  What if there was a place – the Archive – where every History sleeps?  What if you were given the task – Keeper, Crew, Librarian – of protecting the Archive?
The entrances to the Archive are hidden except to those who know where to look, and locked to those without a key.  Mackenzie Bishop fits under neither of those categories.  She’s been trained to be a Keeper by Da.  Now, with Da dead, she protects the Archive from restless Histories who threaten its secrecy.
Sometimes Histories wake up, and when they wake up, they slip.  It’s up to Keepers, like Mackenzie, to return them to the Archive before they cause any damage.
Now, Mackenzie’s faced with some demons of her own.  Grief from her little brother’s death has caused Mackenzie’s parents to move them away as a way of starting over.  That’s fine; Mackenzie’s a Keeper no matter where she lives.  Only, the Coronado ends up being a dangerous place for a Keeper.  Mackenzie soon finds herself knee-deep in unexplainable chaos and lies that the Archive has tried to conceal.

The Archived was dark and thought provoking.  Every chapter brought about new questions waiting to be answered and secrets waiting to be told.  It wasn’t predictable and it was definitely powerful.  Mysteries slowly unraveled, lies built up, and the past was shaken.

The story of The Archived grew increasingly interesting.  There was the world we know – the Outer – the hidden world where the dead are kept – the Archive – and the labyrinth that connected the two – the Narrows.  You had to learn how the Archive, and subsequently the Narrows, functioned and fit in with the Outer.  A balance needed to be kept so, there were rules, and those rules couldn’t be bent or broken without dire consequences.  However, with friends in high places one could potentially find a loophole or two.

This wasn’t like anything I had ever read before.

It seemed that there was always something rooted below the surface, like a lie waiting to be uncovered.  You were left breadcrumbs to follow that led to some truths, only to find that there were still mysteries left.  Every exposed truth led to more questions.  In fact, a whole new set of questions awaited you once you read The Archived’s final pages.

It was incredibly easy to slip into The Archived’s world.  Mackenzie’s voice just pulled you in, and she was a character you grew attached to.  She became even more likeable as the story progressed, and you watched her delve deeper into her Archive duties.  There was something strange happening and Mackenzie was right in the middle of it.  She had even more burdens to carry and lies to keep straight.  Mackenzie was facing dangers more threatening than her regular Keeper duties, all while trying to cope and put her brother to rest.  Mackenzie wasn’t given a moment of peace while wading through her pain.

A good Keeper must be quick efficient.  Every member of the Archive has a world to hide and Histories to protect.  Mackenzie was a good Keeper, but she was a teenager, and she let her emotions get the better of her.  Da raised her to be deceptive and evasive, so it was second nature for her to be guarded.  However, several people were able to slip past Mackenzie’s shell, see through her lies and into her grief.  There were times when Mackenzie was torn apart and ripped to pieces, but that made her even more of an admirable character.  She was resilient and independent, curious and doubtful.  She was an integral part of the Archive.

I would read any story with Mackenzie Bishop.  I liked getting to know her.

I developed a fondness for certain characters immediately while I sat on the fence with others.  I was hesitant because I had no idea who was behind all the chaos.  Everyone was potentially suspicious, and I hoped that certain characters would be as good as they seemed.
The secondary characters made just as strong an impact as Mackenzie, and I looked forward to reading them.

The Archived will shock you and just when you think you’ve got it figured out, the ground will drop right from under you.  Victoria Schwab knew when to reveal truths and unveil lies.  The Archived kept me guessing till the last page.  Each surprise surpassed the one before it, and at the end, secrets dropped like bombs and I couldn’t keep up.  At one point I was chanting, “HOLY COW HOLY COW HOLY COW.”  (Actually, there were curse words in there somewhere).

The Archived is a book to be read more than once.  There would always be secrets hidden away in corners.

Schwab’s writing simply captures you; it’s impossible not to fall into this story.

Premise:  5/5
Plot:  5/5
Writing:  5/5
Characters:  5/5
Overall:  5/5

Disclosure:  I was given an Advanced Reading Copy to review.  This did not influence my review in any way.

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