Sunday, April 7, 2013

Review: The Archived - Victoria Schwab

The Archived by Victoria Schwab
Series: The Archived #1
Genre: YA, mystery, supernatural
Published on January 22, 2013
Published by Hyperion
Pages: 328
Read From: 3.29.13 - 4.1.13

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books. Each body had 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 may crumble and fall.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Actually, yes. Despite the character impersonator, I approve of the cover's general ambiance. It's very attention-grabbing.

Characters: Mackenzie is a pretty good protagonist, especially for a female one. Her emotions are somewhat compromised, and she often makes mistakes that are her own fault, but I was willing to cut her a little slack in the fact that her brother is dead, and she's adjusting to a new life. Mistakes and unsteady emotions will happen. Her natural curiosity and quick thinking make up for this flaw in her character. I wasn't certain what to think of Wesley when he was first introduced - he threatened to be a lame attempt at guy humor and to be honest, Goth characters - especially guys - aren't usually my favorites. But after a while, his sense of humor really grew on me and I began to like him a lot. Owen was an immediate hit, being the quiet type with a somewhat troubled past. I wanted to give him a big hug. I actually didn't trust Roland at first, but after a while I accepted him as a good "mentor" for Mackenzie.

The Romance: I don't like the idea of Wesley turning into a love interest. He's cool as Mackenzie's really good friend, but if romance blossoms between them, I'm afraid I may end up disliking both him and Mackenzie. As of The Archived, though, there is no romantic attraction between them, and though Mazkenzie and Owen kiss several times, I have a hard time pegging their relationship as romanticAs a Keeper, when Mackenzie touches people she can feel their emotions, and it can often be extremely loud and overwhelming. But when Mackenzie touches Owen, there's nothing; just silence, and when Mackenzie kisses him, that silence is more intense. So I got the feeling that that's the reason she kissed him, and not necessarily because she had romantic feelings. It's a little odd, and I would have preferred their relationship to remain just friends, but it really wasn't as bothersome as I was expecting.

Plot: The Archived is probably the most original ghost story I've ever read. The concept is just awesome. While the story is slow in the beginning, as the characters' emotional states are established and the Reader is introduced to the world of the Narrows and the Archive, it picks up after about 100 pages. As a Keeper, it is Mackenzie's job to patrol the Narrows - the world between the Outside and the Archive - for Histories (dead people) who have awoken, and return them to the Archive before they escape into the Outside. Sometimes it can be easy, but other times Histories can turn violent as confusion and fear sets in, but Mackenzie's granddad has taught her well. But there's something wrong with these new Histories that are waking up: until now, Mackenzie has mainly had to deal with young Histories - kids, - but now the Histories are growing increasingly in age, and therefore more violent, and it appears that with some of the Histories, someone within the Archive is deliberately waking them up. The plot is even more complicated than my short little summary - there is, for instance, a mystery in the new building Mackenzie and her parents have moved into that ties into everything. It all makes for a very interesting and engaging storyline.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: Victoria Schwab is the only Author I know of who can actually make present tense sound poetic. She did it in The Near Witch, and she does it in The Archived as well. I am not a fan of present tense, even if it works for a story, but I actually really enjoy it in her books. The flashbacks Mackenzie has, to conversations she and her granddad had before he died, is also done masterfully and doesn't interrupt the flow of the narration as much as I thought it would.

Content: 1 g--damn

Conclusion: I wasn't expecting The Archived to have as many twists as it did. And while one twist in particular had me shouting, "Noooo!" like I was Luke Skywalker, and then blinking back actual tears, I finally decided, after some long minutes of deliberation, that I actually really liked the twist. Though my suspicions had begun to grow, I really didn't expect it to happen, and as sad as I was at first, that particular twist is what ultimately pushed The Archived into the four-star rating. And though the villain of the piece monologued at the end, which no villain ought to do, he still worked very well. The Archived was a much better book than I was anticipating. It was original, it was awesome, it had two guy characters that I became very attached to, and it had some pretty cool twists. Victoria Schwab is an Author I'm keeping my eye on.

Recommended Audience: Despite some of the more romantic aspects, I would actually recommend this to guys as well as girls - guys would really enjoy the story's concept. Fifteen-and-up, great for Readers who like original ghost stories that are more mysteries than thrillers or horror stories.

Others in This Series:
1)The Archived
2)The Unbound

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