Thursday, February 20, 2014

Review: The Unbound - Victoria Schwab

The Unbound by Victoria Schwab
Series: The Archived #2
Genre: YA, mystery, supernatural
Published on January 28, 2014
Published by Hyperion
Pages: 368
Read From: 2.7.14 - 2.8.14

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. 

Last summer, Mackenzie Bishop, a Keeper tasked with stopping violent Histories from escaping the Archive, almost lost her life to one. Now, as she starts her junior year at Hyde School, she's struggling to get her life back. But moving on isn't easy not when her dreams are haunted by what happened. She knows the past is past, knows it cannot hurt her, but it feels so real. When her nightmares begin to creep into her waking hours, she starts to wonder if she's truly safe. 
Meanwhile, people are vanishing without a trace, and the only thing they seem to have in common is Mackenzie. She's sure the Archive knows more than they are letting on, but before she can prove it, she becomes the prime suspect. Unless Mac can track down the real culprit, she'll lose everything: not only her role as Keeper, but her memories - and even her life. Can Mackenzie untangle the mystery before she herself unravels?


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Despite the character impersonator, I love the cover art for this series (this one included). I love the colors and the ghostly aspect of the face; too awesome.

Characters: Mackenzie is an emotional wreck. It’s hardly surprising, considering The Unbound takes place only three weeks after the events of The Archived. I’m not normally a fan of emotionally wrecked protagonists. They make too many mistakes, behave irrationally, and go on self-blame fests. But Mackenzie does her absolute best to pull it together and still do her job. Her actions are rather reckless at times, but her need to clear her name and solve what’s happening; to clear the ghosts of the last three weeks, as it were – I could appreciate that. The poor girl really hasn’t had a break, and she certainly doesn’t get one in this installment. And she doesn’t go on a self-blame campaign. There are times when she wonders if maybe it is all her fault, but these parts are short-lived moments of understandable self-doubt. Wesley, meanwhile, just continues to grow in my affections. He’s just such an awesome guy. A super-good friend, very caring, and quite witty. Gotta appreciate the wit and sarcasm. Though I actually didn’t mind his Goth look all that much (it worked for him), it was also nice to see a cleaned-up version of Wesley in this. There are some new side characters in The Unbound who I loved. Cash was very adorable, very fun, though it took me a while to decide if I trusted him. I’ve come to suspect really nice characters in this series, thanks to a certain twist in Book #1. Eric, the tough Crew following Mackenzie, I really liked. For some reason, his personality stuck with me. I just loved him. And get this – I actually felt a little sorry for the villain! And still also despised him.

The Romance: Mackenzie and Wesley’s relationship does, naturally, turn romantic. I would have preferred them just being really good friends, but I was also actually really okay with their romantic relationship. It was sweet and felt genuinely deep. Cash also has a thing for Mackenzie, which does create a bit of tension between him and Wesley. But Cash and Wesley are good childhood friends and thankfully they get over their mutual feelings for Mackenzie. There’s some frowning and teasing comments with a double meaning, but no annoying posturing and fighting over the girl. And Mackenzie, for her part, doesn’t play them both. Not that she isn’t attracted to Cash, but she doesn’t flip-flop.

Plot: [Spoilers ahead if you haven't read The Archived] It’s been three weeks since Owen tried to destroy the Archive and Mackenzie still bears the scars – both physically and perhaps more so emotionally. She has recurring nightmares almost every time she falls asleep – nightmares that are increasingly realistic feeling. The Archive is just waiting for Mackenzie to show definite proof that she’s cracking so they can wipe her memory and possibly even take away her role as a Keeper. But Mackenzie is determined to stick with it, even if she does lose her mind trying. Between starting high school at the fancy private school, evading nightmares, and keeping her real life secret from her parents, Mackenzie is stretched beyond endurance. And then people start disappearing, with no explanation. The one thing they have in common? They know Mackenzie. The Unbound is a little slower than The Archived, as it explores Mackenzie’s shredded emotions and her growing relationship with Wesley. It’s not boring, but it does require a break or two as you read. There’s just enough mystery and suspense woven in to keep the Reader interested. The twists are easy enough to guess, but they’re really good, so there is no feeling of disappointment. Even with its slower beginning, The Unbound had me on the edge of my seat. And with Mackenzie’s dreams, there were some truly frightening moments.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: First person, present tense. I think I’ve said this about all of Victoria Schwab’s books: I really don’t like present tense, but she makes me absolutely love it. She knows how to turn present tense into poetry. I always forget that her books are in present tense, they’re written so well.

Content: 2 s-words, 2 g—damn.

Conclusion: Dare I say that its ending is even more intense than The Archived? Yes, I dare say it: it’s more intense than The Archived. It at first threatens to be convoluted, because characters start showing up all of a sudden, but it worked very well. The Unbound is a terrific sequel, but it is also emotionally exhausting. I can’t count how many times Mackenzie gets pounded. Broken bones, bruises, cuts – how much can a girl take?! But I loved this book just as much as Book #1. And all I can say to the Author is: why is it a duology?! I want another one! If I can’t have another one, would you please write a spin-off with when Wesley and Mackenzie make Crew? That would be awesome!

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, seventeen-and-up, great for fans of supernatural mysteries.

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

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