Review: The Archived

The Archived (The Archived #1) by Victoria Schwab
Release Date ~ January 22, 2013
Hyperion ~ Disney Book Group
ISBN13: 9781423157311
ARC received from Hachette Book Group Canada

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

Victoria's debut The Near Witch was a book so enchanting that I told myself I had to read anything she wrote afterwards. And luckily for me, The Archived is a book that appeals to my literary taste.

Victoria incorporates mystery, slight morbid curiousity, determined young woman, and an appreciation for the past in her newest release.

  1. Writing style that perfectly sets the mood:

    I praised Victoria's writing in The Near Witch for its whimsical yet eerie style that accurately reflected the unearthly setting. Victoria utilizes this talent of hers and applies it to The Archived - Mac's voice is distinctively Southern and strikingly mature in some ways and young in others. Her familiarity with The Archives is notable, particularly when contrasted with her frustration at home with her family. The reader doesn't just read Mac's words, but feels them and experiences them as much as a reader can.
  2. A ghost story...without ghosts?

    The Archived makes the comment a few times that Histories are not ghosts and explains the differences between the two. So while it may not be a story about ghosts per se, it has the distinct flavour of a ghost story and all the good things that come with one. It's very creepy at some points, and fairly dark.
  3. Reflections on living & the past:

    Mac spends a significant portion of the book pondering the meaning of life and death and what it all means to the dead and those they leave behind. And this is where I can best describe this book as making me feel terribly homesick! I am personally petrified by the thought of losing those I love dearly, and this is one of the key themes of the book and one of life's most personal struggles. We will all experience it in one way or another, and as Mac tries to make sense of her grief, all it made me want to do was give my grandparents and sister and everyone the BIGGEST hug and hold them close. It's just so raw and painful - very, very real. 
It took me a little while to adapt to the world though, and the reader is very much launched into it with little warning. Mac gradually explains bits and pieces of her world and involvement as a Keeper, and while that works well for staying away from any info-dumping or lengthy explanations,  it also makes for a rather confusing beginning to a book. 

I was a bit split on my impression of the villain as well. For the most part I thought it was clever and surprising, but about half of it seemed thrown it without much background or any hints. It was ultimately less fulfilling than I had anticipated. 

A good book will resonate with its reader, and make you think and most importantly, FEEL. I can't stress how well The Archived accomplished that with my experience reading it. It delivered as a breath of fresh air in YA, and I can't wait to read the rest of the series as well as Victoria's other upcoming books. 


Nikki R said...

You've summed up my feelings about this book WAY better than I've been able to so far. You don't just read about Mac and her struggles, you feel them with her. That's one of the most amazing things when it happens in a book, especially one with a message like The Archived.

Really great review.

Mel@Thedailyprophecy said...

I can't wait to read this book! I really liked the near witch. Her writing-style and characters blew me away. I think Mac sounds like a great MC and I love the concept :D Great review!


ChristasBooks said...

Glad you liked it!

I also found you were kind of thrown in at the beginning but once you got used to it everything was fine. But all in all I love Victoria's writing style and I can't wait to read more of her books.

Unknown said...

*tackles Brenna* EEE. This is one of my favorite books of this year so far! I had the opportunity to meet Victoria and have her sign my copy, and she is SUCH a sweetheart. I am really looking forward to reading more of her books (and considering re-reading TNW this Halloween!)

I really like how you called this a ghost story without ghosts. That's a very good description! And yes, the writing is SO elegant and ethereal, and so powerful. Wonderful review!

Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

SweetMarie83 said...

Victoria went on my auto-buy list after The Near Witch, too. She's just such a beautiful, lyrical writer, and her stories are different from anything else out there.
It WAS very real. As someone who's lost a parent and both grandparents, it really spoke to me. It gave me a creepy feeling to think of my loved ones in a place like The Archived with the potential to come awake. It was haunting and dark, but I loved it.
Great review, Brenna!

~Marie @ Ramblings of a Daydreamer

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