Friday, May 22, 2015

Review: The Archived

The Archived by Victoria Schwab
The Archived #1
Published January 22nd 2013 by Hyperion

The dead rest on shelves like books. Each body has a story to tell, a life in pictures only Librarians can read. The dead, called 'Histories', rest in 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 tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper is dangerous and a constant reminder of those she lost, Da and her little brother. Mac wonders about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. Yet someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.
The Archived is without a doubt one of the most original stories I have ever come across. Considering the fact that I read a lot of epic-fantasy, that^^ is saying something. Truth be told, I've had this book on my tbr shelf since it first came out, before I even had a clue who author Victoria (V.E.) Schwab was, but true to form, she delivered yet another memorable and creative story that is sure to linger in your head for days, even weeks after you've read the last page.

The Archived is, at it's core, a mystery. Sure it has sci-fi elements, given the fact that there's this other part of our world where the dead are kept in archive - and yet another part that's sort of in between our world and the Archive (called the Narrows) where the dead 'memories' can escape to if they awaken - but at it's basest level, this is a mystery, and a good one at that. I don't want to give anything away so I won't say more, other than it certainly did a good job of keeping me guessing right till the very end, which is no small feat, especially for a young adult book.  As a naturally curious person, I found myself literally driven to distraction trying to figure out all of it's secrets from the very first pages. Told in present tense, with shorter flashbacks scattered throughout, the construction of the plot itself felt like it was made to keep readers guessing; something that it accomplished beautifully.

Truth be told, I found the pacing to be quite slow moving fat the start there. I was intrigued, fascinated even by the world I was discovering as well as its characters, but most of what was going on was introductions. The story itself didn't feel like it was moving forward  much and I kept waiting for the actual plot to reveal itself. But then, when I got passed that first 40%, the plot really picked up and things started to fall into place. At that point, I could not put the book down to save my life. I plowed through the remaining 60% in no time flat and despite a few lingering questions, I was largely satisfied with the story.

The Archived features a relatively small cast, which I tend to enjoy.  It just feels like you get to know everyone so much easier and makes for a more personal read. Mackenzie, our protagonist was chosen to work for the Archive.  She can travel between the Outer (our reality) to the Narrows and the Archive. She basically hunts down any histories - basically ghosts or memories of people who have died - and returns them to the Archive, where they are kept.  Because of her job, she can also read objects, which I though was especially cool. All she has to do is touch an object, search within for a thread of memory and then she reels back time, like rewinding a film and she can see the past imprinted on any given object. It's a gift that can help her know more about any woken or escaped histories and track them down...but it can also get her into trouble. And it does.  I thought that Mackenzie as a character was wonderful. A bit lost and alone, but a fighter through it all. I understood her curiosity, especially with what was going on in her life, so I felt a lot for her. I finished the book wishing that we could be friends and to me, those are the best sorts of characters. Character-wise, there's also Wesley, a neighbor of Mackenzie's, which soon becomes a friend and confidante.  Wesley was a real treat, I loved his humor and how offbeat he was.  Another notable character was Roland, one of the people working in the actual Archive. He was a bit more mysterious but captivating all the same and I won't say more on him, because, spoilers!

I think what struck me the most about The Archived was the setting and atmosphere. Because we're dealing with 'Histories' which are basically sleeping ghosts, the Archive itself always had this sort of hushed tone that clung to everything in this story. Even the Narrows where the Histories go to when they wake was relatively quiet, despite the fact that there was a lot of action going on there when it came to actually recapturing the Histories. Considering that this was a pretty intense mystery, the inherent quiet sort of became it's own character here and it gave everything an eerie calm.

Looking back, I could have used more information on the Histories and their reason for being. It was mentioned that the dead were kept this way to preserve memories, but what were they doing with these memories remains a mystery. Hopefully there will be more information on that front in The Unbound, or even the upcoming, as of yet untitled third book. There was also a couple of romances or potential romances here, which felt a bit out of place for some reason, and I'm not really sure why. Maybe it's because there were two of them, and one very abrupt, but it didn't really bother me all that much. It just didn't quite fit in as nicely as the other aspects of the book.

All things considered, The Archived was a great read. I'm already looking forward to discovering more about this world and it's characters. Definitely recommended for fans of sci-fi mysteries, as well as fans of Victoria Schwab.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

29 comments:

  1. This is one of those that I have had in my reader for awhile. This is a great reminder that I need to read it. Thank you for your review.

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    1. I was the same Suzi^^My pleasure, I hope you get to it soon and that you enjoy it :)

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  2. It reminds me (a little) of that Doctor Who episode, Silence in the library :) Your review is awesome, the blurb is intriguing, I want to read this ! And I've only just noticed that you have a green blog, silly me !

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    1. hahahaha oh I LOVE that episode ♥ and fellow DW fans of course ;D I hope you enjoy this one if/when you read it^^

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  3. Wow this sounds amazing. Thanks for putting it on my radar. I think I'll go pick it up right now. Matt @ JC's Book Haven.

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    1. My pleasure Matt^^ discovering new books is the best :) I hope you enjoy it!!

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  4. I need to bench read this author. I have this one too and I sure would like to try her other fantasy series. The one with the magic coat.

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    1. That's pretty much what I've been doing since I read Vicious a few years back^^ Oh and YES you MUST read ADSOM!!

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  5. I read The Archived (and The Near Witch) before Schwab got her super-author status, and it's definitely one of the most unique things I've read as well!

    WESLEY AYERS, MY MAN. Oh goodness, I just adored him. I definitely got the offbeat-in-a-cute-way vibe from him as well. :) I really enjoyed Roland's character, too.

    I can't really remember if there are any explanations in The Unbound since it's been a while since I've read it, but let's both hope for more in book three!

    Awesome review, Micheline! <3

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    1. I still need to get to Near Witch but it's on the old tbr shelf, of course. Is it as unique as this one is?!

      Wesley was SUCH A TREAT! I took to him straight away, he was a highlight for sure :D

      If I still have these questions after Unbound I will definitely be needed answers in book 3 right along with you^^

      Thank you!!! Xxx

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  6. I meant to read this book ages ago and I guess I just kinda forgot about it but now I'm kicking myself for that because it sounds like I need to read it. Great review!

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    1. I totally understand what you mean. There are too many books to read and not enough hours in the day! I hope you enjoy this when you get around to reading it! :)

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  7. I picked this up when it was a Kindle Daily Deal quite a while back, and with all of the stellar reviews ADSOM has been getting, I've really been itching to check out one of Victoria Schwab's books. I just love the premise and how unique it is- can't wait to read this now! :D

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    1. I think that was when I got my hand on it too^^ If I remember correctly, I'd just finished Vicious by her and when I saw the deal, I *had* to get it! I hope you do check out something by Schwab soon Lee :D

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  8. I've only read the books she's published under her name V.E. i.e. Vicious and ADSOM but this one has been on my radar for a while now. Something tells me I should give her YA a shot :)

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

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    1. I had too Mogsy, I started out with Vicious and then ADSOM but this one^^ had been on my tbr longer than both of those, and after she thoroughly impressed me, well I wanted to read ALL OF HER BOOKS :D

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  9. I read The Archived a while ago but I still have to get Unbound. I really, really liked this one! By the way, have you read The Near Witch? It's her first published novel, I think, and it's dreamy and magical and very cool. It's a standalone and quite short, which is a plus sometimes.

    I liked that the romances weren't all that developed! I once read that Schwab herself didn't like it when people said that Mackenzie was *in love*, because she isn't, at least not yet (we'll see what happens in Unbound?) - but she needs distraction, which is what she gets, no? :)

    I liked the family dynamics - the grieving and all. So good. I really think I'll be reading everything she ever writes :D

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    1. I haven't read The Near Witch yet but I want to! I love that it's a standalone and also a shorter read, I need that from time to time.

      It's not that the romances weren't developped to my liking, it's just that I could have done without two of them. Out of all the elements at play here, the romantic aspects sort of felt like they fit into the narrative the least. BUT it didn't impact my enjoyment of the story by any means!

      AND YES. Family Dynamics! So rare, especially in YA fiction. It's like a breath of fresh air. I definitely will too^^

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  10. I've been debating on reading this one for a while, and we actually have it as a pick for my book club later this summer so I've been debating if I want to buy it or try and wait for it from the library. I'm edging more towards buying after your review, but I'm still thinking about it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :)

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    1. It's definitely not a waste to buy this one, I can't see you regretting it Kelsey^^ but worst case, get it from the library and if you love it, buy it after that ;) My pleasure! xx

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  11. I felt pretty much the same about this book, I thought it was a little slow at times but the mystery and concept was so unique I just had to keep reading. Also like you mentioned, I wish there had been more background about Histories and such, it just seems like an interesting world with so much potential! Although that could be the fantasy loving side of us talking ;)

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    1. The start was especially slow for me but it's like you said: the mystery and creative concept kept me going. LOL it's true, when you're high-fantasy fans there can never be enough world-building to satisfy our cravings XD

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  12. The Archived was my first introduction to Schwab and I was sold right away! The imagination she has!! Love it. I also felt the same about this one - I haven't actually read the second book yet, but I would be curious to know more information about the various aspects of the world. I also found the romance to be pretty meh, but maybe that also improves in the second book.

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    1. Yes! Her imagination is something else entirely^^ Now I'm really craving the second book to see if there's more information on the Histories, the Archive and everything else! I'm thinking the romance will improve since the boy I prefered got a better chance at developing his relationship with Mackenzie compared to that first guy XD

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  13. This sounds like an awesome read, I do like something a little different! Great review!

    Heather @ Random Redheaded Ramblings

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    1. Thanks Heather! I hope you have the same luck with this one as I did :)

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  14. I didn't even realize the setting/atmosphere aspect when I read it, but now that you've said it you've open my eyes, lol! I also thought that it was really slow in the beginning and I almost DNFed it because I read it during a Read-A-Thon. I am so glad I didn't because the rest of the book was amazing!!
    Great review Micheline =D

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    1. hahah^^ Well now I'm glad that you didn't DNF it either. It really did start pretty slow, I was relieved when it picked up and after than I couldn't stop reading :D Thanks doll! xx

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  15. I've been meaning to read this one. I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's on my TBR list; you just bumped it up on the list.

    Thanks!

    Danica Page

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