The Archived by Victoria Schwab
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.
(Description from Goodreads)
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
As a school of library and information science student at LSU, I knew I just HAD to read this book. I first read the blurb about it back in August 2012, and it has been on my “to read” list on Goodreads since then. I mean, how awesome does that summary sound? Fantastic, right? I was immediately intrigued by how a library could be turned into a place for the dead to rest on shelves like books normally do.
Before I start my review fully, let me define some words I’ll use. The Outer is the real word, the Narrows are the place between the Outer and the Archive, and the Archive is the place where the bodies rest. As for the types of people present, the Histories are the dead, the Keepers are those who keep the Histories from waking up and escaping to the Narrows (or worse, the Outer), the Crew are partners who go after Histories that escape into the Outer, and the Librarians are those keep the Archive. Keeping up? Good.
Mac is a Keeper and has been since she was young, even though the age requirement is when one is well into their teen years. Her grandfather, Da, passed his lineage of being a Keeper on to her. Since then, Mac’s life has been full of lies and deceit from all of those she loves. Of course, Mac’s life is nowhere near being perfect. On top of being a Keeper, Mac’s brother, Ben, died within the past year. While her parents are doing their best to move on from this, Mac can’t let go. Instead, her curiosity gets the best of her, and she begins to “read” the walls of her new home at the Coronado. Even though she isn’t a fan of letting go of her life with her brother, she soon meets “guyliner”, Wesley, who has secrets of his own.
Okay. Mac and Wes are amazing characters. I seriously wanted to be their friend. Being able to relate to characters in YA books is crucial, at least in my opinion. It’s a great thing for teens to be able to relate with characters in a book, so if I can relate to them and want to be their friend (at the age of almost 23) I think teens may want to do the same. Even the other characters in this book were outstanding, especially Roland and Owen. Even though Owen’s character creeped me out throughout the whole time Mac knows him, his character was wonderfully execute (not literally mind you.) Roland was a fantastic librarian and really cared for Mac’s well-being, especially after how great of a Keeper Da was. Because of Mac’s line of work, she often found herself not opening up to others because of her ability to “read” people (and things) and how much noise it creates in her mind. I really wanted to just give her a hug, but she probably would have pushed me away because she’s not the touchy-feely type. It’s okay, Mac! You aren’t alone!
The story was remarkable. There was one part that was a little bit predictable (after the book progressed) but there were several parts where I know my face must have depicted my total shock, I was that into the story. If I get into a story so much that I feel my heart start to race and I’m in a panic as to what is going to happen, it has to be a pretty darn good book. The description of the Narrows and the Archive were riveting; even the Coronado seemed like a place I would like to go visit (pretty inventive idea to turn an old hotel into an apartment complex.) Even though the story hardly took place outside of the building and focused mostly inside the Archive, the Narrows, and several apartments, it didn’t feel like the story was too confined. In fact, I think it made it seem even more vast than it maybe was. The Archive was a pretty massive space it seemed like.
There’s a lot to this book that I want to get into, but I know I shouldn’t, mostly because it would give away key facts about the story. I cannot express enough how amazing this book was and how if this review or the blip about the book has caused you to become interested in reading this book, I urge you to go find a copy and read it. You will not be disappointed, I promise. The Archived is a different kind of YA novel from what I normally read (there was a great deal of suspense), but I’m super glad I stumbled across it.