Review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Lizzie     Jul 19th, 2013     Fantasy, Paranormal, Reviews     0 Replies

Age Range: 12 and up
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Books (January 22, 2013)
Source: Purchased
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1423157311
ISBN-13: 978-1423157311

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 that 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 hardwon redemption.

I had this book for many months before finally picking it up, something that I now regret dearly. I began it during Bonnaroo in June under a canopy at my campsite, while listening to a band I could hear from the main stage. It was beautiful, as beautiful as this book is.

I had heard so much hype about The Archived and about Victoria herself but admittedly, I’d never gotten around to picking up The Near Witch (though I’ve always intended to). Hype like that always scares me because I’ve read my fair share of hyped-up books that I hated. And now I’m wondering if I place too much doubt on the hype.

The Archived is a story full of sorrow and beauty. From the beginning, I ached for Mackenzie and the loss of her brother. I wanted to crawl into the pages and hold her, and maybe smack her mother into dealing with her grief. I loved the flashbacks to when Mac was being trained by her grandfather Da; it felt so bittersweet, though we didn’t get see very far into their relationship. Those flashbacks, though, held so much love, you knew they were close.

The Archive was such a fascinating idea, too. Your loved ones all there, shelved and quiet, their memories still very much alive? It’s almost hard to not believe in something like that being possible. It would be nice, wouldn’t it? But then again, Mac’s job as a Keeper makes you realize why that would be entirely frightening.

I fell in love with Victoria Schwab’s writing in The Archived. It is exactly how I wish my writing to be, rich and beauitful, flowing, and without description overload. Needless to say, I will be reading all of her books from now on. The hype around her is 100% deserved and true.

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