Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Archived by Victoria Schwab

The Archived by Victoria Schwab
Release Date – January 22, 2013
Publisher Website - Hyperion/Hachette Canada
Publisher Social Media -  Twitter
Pages -   336 pages
My Rating- 4/5
**Received from publisher for review**

Here is the 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 .
When I first heard about The Archived I wasn't sure what type of book to expect. It sounded like a plot driven novel, one that might not hold much character development. Luckily, it's a balance between the two.  Detailed world building mixed with character development. It's this balance that makes the story compelling.

The elements that stick out in this story are not the ones you might expect. It's the recognizable and human ones rather than the mystical elements of the archive itself. The pain of losing someone close to you, the guilt of hiding a secret, the start of a new crush. Mac's experiences with moving to a new place, and having to deal with the death of her brother made her someone I rooted for. Her achingly felt pain over the loss of two beloved family members will be relateable to anyone who has lost someone.

Mac's strength comes from hard work and determination. I liked that she wasn't some gifted individual who had everything come easily to her. She had to work for what she wanted, and she had to train hard. Her Da saw something in her, but it was up to her to embrace it and go after what she wanted. Not a bad message to empower girls with.

I was instantly drawn to the Buffy The Vampire Slayer connections. A young girl with a secret who protects the world from danger. It's a story that's been done again and again. Victoria Schwab takes it, embraces it and makes it her own. The world of the Archived, and it's rules, are fresh, and unique. The idea of our lives being kept on record and shelved is an intriguing one. It's a thought provoking premise that made me think of my own ideas about death and what comes next.

I heard that many were wanting to know if there was kissing in this novel. Victoria certainly brings the steamy! The charming, guyliner wearing Wesley and Mac's flirtation is cute, and honest. It's doesn't evolve instantly. It's just this spark that has the potential to grow. I was instantly smitten with Wesley and want more of him. If Victoria wanted to write something from his point of view I would not complain.

Roland, the wise Librarian that Mac has to answer to was fascinating. His patience with Mac, his decision to become a Librarian in the first place, and his intelligence. He seems like someone who has enough backstory for an entire novel of his own. It's these side characters that are so fully developed that add something extra to the novel.
Owen and Mac's interaction engrossed me from the beginning. If a relationship fulfills a very specific need, and you know and recognize this, does that mean you're using the other person? Who are you really hurting more, the other person or yourself? While this particular storyline took a few unexpected turns, the initial questions of need, fulfillment and how deeply we can become enamored with escape were some of my favourite themes I took away from this novel.

Those that despise cliffhangers can rest assured that this novel stands on it's own. It's not the ending that makes you want to beg for a sequel. It's the characters, the world and the unanswered questions. The plot leaves endless possibilities because the world is vast, and the characters so rich and complex.

A story that blends action, romance, and coping with loss into a beautifully written, and plotted novel. Victoria's world is engaging, and unique and it's one I am certainly looking forward to going back into.


  1. Wow ~ I really can't wait to dive into this novel. It sounded amazing before, but now... I love a book that brings out the human element in a paranormal environment.. Great review :)

    Keely @ Realms of an Open Mind

  2. Hmm, I like the idea of a library of ghosts (I guess they're ghosts?) That's very different, and I like the idea of people archiving and treasuring these lives for their stories. I'll have to check this one out.

  3. I didn't know it was a series, now that I know there are more to come, I'm can't wait to read The Archived. I love that it reminded you of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, I loved that show. Great review :)


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