First, let me say that this book had great world building. I could definitely tell that Victoria Schwab put a lot of thought into how the Archive worked and the rules of the Archive. I loved reading about the different parts of the Archive and how it worked. That was definitely one of the more enjoyable parts of this book.
I really liked Mackenzie as a main character. She was well-developed and I think that she was a relatable character. I liked reading about her and about her job in the Archive. I think that she was a very strong character for this book.
I loved Wesley. Wesley is someone Mackenzie meets in her new home. He was a funny, relaxed character that I really loved. He was a funny and laid back character as well as he was really sweet and nice to Mackenzie.
I think that the plot for this book was very good. It had many twists and turns and maintained a good pace for most of the book. I really had a great time reading this book because it was really interesting and I haven't read anything that is similar to this so it was something completely different.
The mystery in this book was great. I didn't really have the slightest idea of who the culprit is and Schwab does a good job of keeping you guessing until the very end, which was great.
The ending was a good ending and I quite liked how it ended. It wasn't a cliffhanger and it wasn't sad, so that is a good ending in my books.
Quirk Review: The Archived (The Archived #1) by Victoria Schwab
(Updated: January 10, 2014)
After reading Victoria Schwab's The Near Witch, meeting her, and following her on Twitter, there was, is, no way that I will ever not read one of her books. So when my wondermous friend Meg from Myth-Illogical received a copy of The Archived, she graciously lent it to me after reading it (and assuring me it was awesome). So were my expectations met?
More like blown out of the water.
This cover is great. I love the blue, the Narrows in the background, and the key. This cover is dark and eerie and perfectly fits the story.
Schwab's prose has a fluidity that few can attain. Even when writing about mundane things, she is able to make them magical and interesting. Basically, the lady can turn a phrase like no one's business, and it only adds to the overall effect of the story and never gets in the way of it.
Not only can Schwab make normal settings come alive, but she also has the amazing ability to create unique and unworldly locations seem like they could exist outside the pages. I loved the broken-down elegance of The Coronado and the mysterious and ethereal Archive. I could picture everything so easily and wished I could jump into the book to take a look around for myself.
I love Lexi from The Near Witch so much that it's going to take Schwab a lot to top her, but she came close with Mac (Mackenzie). Mac reminds me of a boxer all throughout the book because she's beat-down and losing it, but she refuses to quit. She takes all the punches yet still throws her own with plenty of force.
The way Mac sees the world is different because of who and what she is, and it colors every bit of her life. She has to calculate every move and lie and be a step ahead the whole time, and she's used to that, so it was really great to see how she dealt with losing control of everything when the Archive goes haywire. I was really enthralled by her reaction to Owen, who I found fascinating and *spoiler removed*.
Now, as great as Mac is, I absolutely adore Guyliner, I mean, Wes. He is just the bees knees in this book. He is like Mac in so many ways, but he has adapted differently than she has and it was interesting to see how they chose different ways of being while having similar lives and concerns and feelings.
My other favorite is Roland. Oh, Roland. I want my own Roland. I remember a while back where Schwab posted this on Tumblr about the inspiration for Roland. Of course, back then I had no idea what that really meant, but now...ALL THE FEELS.
Um, this whole book is cool. And I'm going to forever be suspicious of anyone wearing a key around his or her neck.
Do I really need to say it? Victoria Schwab has pulled off another fantastic novel full of mystery and adventure. With wonderful writing, great but flawed characters, and a unique world where the dead are buried but not always gone, The Archived deserves to be on every reader's shelf. It will be on mine as soon as it comes out and then I'll just be (not-so-patiently) waiting for the next installment!
The Archived is one of the most unique books that I’ve ever read. Imagine a library, but instead of books sitting on the shelves, there are dead bodies with all of their memories preserved; this is the Archive. Of course, as with any library, the Archive has a group of dedicated staff: Librarians who catalogue the dead, and Keepers who return the Histories (the dead) when they have woken up and left the Archive. It’s such a spooky and fascinating premise, and as information about the Archive was slowly revealed, I found myself wanting to learn even more. It was really easy to get lost in this world that Schwab created, and with the incredibly detailed descriptions, it wasn’t hard to imagine that such a place could exist.
All of the characters in The Archived were incredibly fleshed out and alive – even the secondary characters who only grace a few pages. Da managed to make the biggest impression on me, despite the fact that he was only seen in flashbacks, and I absolutely adored Roland, a librarian who reminded me so much of the Tenth Doctor in his mannerisms and the way that he dressed.
Mackenzie is easily one of my favourite YA protagonists. She’s strong, intelligent, resourceful, and very easy to relate to. The muted grief, anger, frustration, and guilt that she feels over the loss of both her brother and her grandfather are so palpable and realistic, and really resonated with me due to my own experiences with loss.
I quickly fell head over heels for Wesley, who is the perfect love interest. I’m so glad that the fact that he wore guyliner, painted his nails black, and had the whole black spiky hair and clothing thing going on didn’t result in the typical angsty goth characterization. He’s charming, sweet, and witty, and his sense of humour is certainly a refreshing break from the rather dark and heavy plot.
Overall, The Archived is absolutely fantastic. It’s a really interesting murder mystery filled with twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and will leave you thinking about the story long after you’ve finished.
Unique Premise with Fleshed-Out and Convoluted Worldbuilding
With one of the most unique premises that I’ve read in YA fiction, The Archived’s biggest strength came from having such fleshed out and convoluted world-building. With a cast of enjoyable, if not overly memorable, characters and a little mystery to keep me intrigued, I flew through The Archived in my quest to unravel the mysteries of this secret world!
Easily the biggest reason I loved The Archived was its fantasy-esque world, where people become Histories in death, shelved in a place called the Archives, cared for by Librarians. But, as with every system, there are flaws and sometimes, Histories wake up, finding themselves in the Narrows – the place in-between the Outer (real world) and the Archives. And this is where MacKenzie comes in – she’s a Keeper, garnered with the responsibility of tracking down Histories who have made it into the Narrows and showing them the way to the Return, so they made be shelved again. Schwab was able to articulate this world so clearly and so fluidly, that I was never lost about how it worked and any questions I was able to think of, were answered by the end. I loved learning about how the Archives functioned, and why they existed, so much that I was kept turning the pages in the hopes of being given another glimpse into such an interesting and complex system. Every time I thought I had a handle on why things were done, Schwab threw in another detail that left me scrambling to re-envision the world in light of this new information.
There was one thing that I found confusing in The Archived though: Mac’s flashbacks to the time spent with Da. For the longest time, we’re not told who Da is, so I couldn’t figure out if he was supposed to be a neighbour, some random creepy stranger, some relation or someone who just happened to choose Mac as his replacement. Once we found out that Da was her grandfather, I found the flashback scenes much more useful, as I wasn’t focusing on who he was as much as what he was trying to teach Mac about being a Keeper.
Mac was a wonderful protagonist! Extremely proactive, she wasn’t afraid of finding the answers on her own, even when that put her into uncomfortable or dangerous situations. I loved watching her internal struggle with lying to her family, since being a Keeper meant a lifetime of lies as no one is allowed to know about the Archives, and I found most of her reactions to be realistic, though I did question her judgment when it came to Owen; am I the only one who found their relationship kind of icky? That being said though, I understood Owen’s attractiveness, as he was able to quiet the noise that came with her responsibilities and grief over losing her little brother. Her easy and light friendship with Wes was a nice break from the darker tones of her life as a Keeper and he brought out a side of Mac that we otherwise wouldn’t have known existed. But, even though I enjoyed the characters – even rooted for them – I never truly connected with any of them; I don’t want to suggest in any way that The Archived’s characters were static or undeveloped, they just weren’t overly memorable.
Fortunately, The Archived’s plot moves at such a great pace, that I wasn’t really focused on my lack of connection to the characters. With the dawning realization that a Librarian is responsible for wiping certain memories from certain Histories, and that those memories all happen to correspond to a string of suspicious deaths at Mac’s new apartment complex, I was completely caught up in playing who-done-it. While I found the direction the plot took to be a bit predictable, it didn’t lessen my enjoyment. If anything, it made me even more curious to see how Schwab was going to tie up all the loose ends.
With several mysteries that were seemingly unconnected, only to come together to form one large conspiracy toward the end, The Archived’s plot kept me guessing for most of its duration. Add in some great characters and even better world-building, and the Archived succeeded at trapping me in its fantasy world until I had uncovered all of its secrets!
The Archived can bring you various emotions while reading every chapter. The conflict of hunting Histories, the secrets behind, I love how it breaks one mystery after another. Mysteries are my cup of tea because these (in any other kind) always excite me. The flashbacks between Da and Ben is touching yet it helped a lot with developing the story over and over; the journeys of being a Keeper made me imagine events of action and suspense I literally felt it was me who was there. The writing is brilliant I have to stress on that it’s what made me finish the book with a smile on my face while the events dig in deeper.
Characters. Characters are strong and showed their dominance throughout the events. The most dominant of course is our 15yo heroine, Mackenzie Bishop who happened to be a Keeper when she’s 12 after her grandfather Da passed on the talent to her before he died. Da petitioned Mac to be part of the Archive since she’s his last resort and she’s the only person he can think of whom to pass the role as a Keeper. Mac is undeniably strong-willed and smart since training as a kid and losing both Da and her little brother Ben made her more certain for the role so she has to survive; gladly, she’s proven herself right.
Before I started The Archived, I had fairly massive expectations. This is probably the most unique dystopian novel I’ve seen pitched in a while (in my opinion this book isn’t dystopian at all, though). Shelving the ghosts of the dead so their lives can be recorded and remembered is crazy, crazy original, and I seriously applaud Victoria Schwab for thinking that up. But aside from the premise, I hadn’t heard much about this book—characters, pacing, prose. I assumed that, since everyone loved the book, those elements would be well done also. And so, like I said, I started reading expecting a 4 or 5 star read.
And honestly, I was freaking out about this book before I even read the first sentence. The Archived’s epigraph is taken from one of my all-time favorite poems, “Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep” by Mary Elizabeth Frye. There was some spazzing involved when I saw that.
After that, I managed to calm down and read The Archived and I came away from this book highly impressed. Overall, this book definitely met my expectations, though it wasn’t a perfect read for me.
The premise, obviously, is Schwab’s biggest bargaining chip in attracting readers to the book, and it’s also her biggest strength. The entire system—Outer, Narrows, Archive—worked extremely well in context, and if I had any questions or concerns, they weren’t serious enough to detract from my enjoyment of the book. It’s not often anymore that I’m unable to compare one title with another, but The Archived and it’s set-up is far, far outside my normal realm of experience. If anything, though, I would say the Archive portrayed by Schwab was reminiscent of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books featured in The Shadow of the Wind and its sequels. The same gothic, enigmatic presence was featured in the two dusty old libraries filled with unusual volumes.
Schwab’s main character, Mackenzie, was certainly proactive and, in my mind, qualifies as a strong female protagonist. I think her reactions to situations were realistic and her decisions along the road more or less made sense. I didn’t really get a good “feel” for her though, and that was probably my biggest issue with the book: my “mehness” toward the characters. I’d say that I liked Mackenzie and her new-found friend Wesley, but I didn’t find them memorable and they didn’t stand out from other YA characters I’ve come across. But by no means were the personalities portrayed in The Archived bad or underdeveloped or static or any of that. I just didn’t fall in love with them.
This books storyline is more mystery-intensive than anything else, with the fantasy elements playing a nice background harmony. After Mackenzie moves to a new house, she’s responsible for a different “territory” of the Narrows, and for some reason, a lot more Histories are escaping into her territory than she’s used to or is normal. There were also several mysterious murders that took place in Mackenzie’s new home, and they’re tied to whatever’s going wrong in the Archive.
I wasn’t quite expecting that sort of mystery element in The Archived—as I said, I thought this was dystopian fiction, so I figured rebelling against the government would be priority number one. But overall I think Victoria Schwab handled her story well, and I though the reveal of the antagonist was well-done, even if I could have done without the big and dramatic villain monologue that came alongside.
Simply put, The Archived is very good. Better than just “good”, really. It’s rare that I have high expectations for a book anymore, and it’s even rarer that my high expectations are met. I was extremely impressed with the creative thought that obviously went behind crafting this book, and I look forward to the sequel.
Why I Loved It: I really, truly loved this book. I found it on my bookshelf yesterday and remembered that it was being released this month. I knew that the book had to be great if only because the author shares my love of chocolate pudding. So I sat down to read it, using it as a break from studying. Well then it started to overwhelm the study time until I finally gave in and stopped pretending to study. Midnight comes around, and I reached the last page. I am eternally grateful to Ms. Schwab for not leaving me with some awful cliffhanger. My brain wouldn't have been able to handle it after that reading experience. I was already on edge. (In the best possible way mind you.)
Reading this book brought back the wonderful feelings that Starters had given me months before. I was relishing every word and page, turning faster and faster until I had to will myself to slow down. The two worlds in which Mackenzie lives would have quickly overwhelmed me. Luckily for her, she has some special talents and the wisdom of her grandfather residing within her. The fact that she is pretty dang tough is also a pretty big plus. Mackenzie is such a relatable character with her fierce loyalty and her "take-no-crap" attitude with a touch of empathy that creates such a well-rounded and well-loved character.
In all honesty, I have nothing but wonderful things to say about this book. The plot was different and unique and full of just enough winding turns to keep me reading *and to yell at anyone who interrupted me* without completely overwhelming me. The character development was incredibly strong from Mackenzie and the people in the world around her to the the people residing in the Archives. The Librarian Roland was probably my favorite character. He had the whole smart guy thing going, complete with a pair of red Chucks. Can you ask for more?
I wouldn't be me if I didn't mention THE BOY. I don't normally go for "guyliner" and black fingernails. In Wesley's case, I will make an exception. He was all charm and brains and with the right touch of bad boy. Yep. I have found another fictional boyfriend to add to the list. He literally oozed charm without being completely obnoxious. That is a hard feat.
The world that Ms. Schwab created makes for a very fun and edge of your seat reading experience. And it has just the right amount of creepy.
Who Should Read It: Everyone. Seriously. If you read Starters and loved it more than you thought you would, this needs to be added to the TBR pile. It's worth it.
For some reason when I first heard about this book I didn't jump to add it to my TBR pile. I remember the cover coming out and then deciding I wanted to read it. (Shallow right? smh) But I'm so glad I decided to read it! After reading the blurb and everything, I decided that it would be one of my most anticipated reads of 2013! And trust me, I was not disappointed.
In the beginning, we are introduced to Mackenzie and her parents. They have moved away to a different set of apartments (or really an old hotel) due to one of her mother's "crazy projects." They are still suffering from the deaths of their family members Ben and Da. As they move in, she meets Wes (who is super uber amazing) and the story unfolds from there.
First, I want to start with the mystery. The mystery was so good. I'm normally the type of person that can figure out the answer from the beginning, but this one, I had no idea. It really made me have to sit and analyze the situation and even still I didn't know who to choose.
Then there was the emotion. While reading this book I had ALL THE FEELS. From love, to grief, to happiness. I felt everything while reading this, just as I imagine Mackenzie would have felt going through it. As they showed the flashbacks from Da and Ben towards the end, I was biting my nails and tearing up. It was so overwhelming. Mackenzie had to be super strong to endure that type of pain. Then the deceit and betrayal that was at the end of the book. Gah you guys, I'm getting rambly, but the emotion in the book is the best part. It had me hooked and wanting to stay with my head stuck in the book.
Lastly, the world building was great! One thing I love about fantasy novels, is the way the author can make up the world completely in their head. I also hate that fact about fantasies because they sometimes leave out certain details that the reader may need. But in my opinion, Schwab got it 100% perfect. She made a very imaginative world in her head and was able to deliver it to her readers in the book. As for me, I pictured The Archive as my actual local library. With me putting it towards something that I could actually relate to made the story that much better for me.
The characters are amazingly put together as well. Mackenzie is an amazing, kick ass MC, even if she does make some bad decisions. But who doesn't? Then there's Wes. My goodness, talk about book boyfriends. I loved him. He definitely was a great asset to the story. and my interpretation of him... I pictured him as a young Hook from Once Upon a Time with the guy-liner lmao (Don't judge me.)
Overall, this is an amazing read and you will not regret picking it up. At the end the emotion left me breathless and the epic finale had me biting my nails. Schwab did an amazing job with this one, from beginning to end.
Overall, I give this
Victoria Schwab is a woman who knows how to write a book.
First of all, I have to talk about how absolutely astounding the writing is. It's beautiful and almost lyrical, very haunting. Victoria Schwab has such an incredible way with words and using them to create perfect images in your head or pull on your heart strings as the occasion requires. She's definitely one of the most talented writers I've ever had the pleasure of reading.
Then Mac? Mac is so awesome. She changes and develops so much from a pretty kick ass girl to a semi-ultimate bad ass (we have to leave room for her to become ULTIMATE bad ass in the sequels, yeah?). I loved that she was strong, physically and emotionally, and dedicated. She was loyal, but not necessarily blindly. She wasn't a model Keeper because she was too curious and man can I relate to that.
And then there's the other characters, all of them crafted extraordinarily well. Mac's Da, her parents, the boys she meets, the Librarians. They have so much detail and so much life. Each one is incredibly important to the story and so very real and wonderful. These characters had depth to them, even if they weren't in the story often or didn't seem super important. And you can tell that Victoria knows so much more about them that we might get to learn in the sequels.
The story itself is this immense mystery and I never saw it coming. I was so swept up in the prose and the characters that I couldn't even try to imagine how it was going to be told or how it would end. It was very intricately woven, little hints you don't really see until the very end. Thinking about it makes me want to go and reread and take notes on how to properly do a mystery like this.
Guys, seriously. Not picking up this book would be a mistake. I'm so head over heels in love with this book, it's ridiculous. I think The Archived is enough to put Victoria on my insta-buy list forever and ever. I know the year's just started, but this is already on my Best of 2013 list, without a doubt (which, admittedly, is already a bit lengthy. But...we'll talk about that later). Run, drive, train, bus, hijack a jet, do something to get your hands on this book.
Haunting ghost story and riveting mystery meets a kick butt heroine
I think this book is going to get a big buzz from teens and adults. Can't wait for book 2!
It seemed like I have been waiting to read the entire book for months since Disney/Hyperion so wisely only gave us an early snippet - so worth the wait! The Archived is a cross between a Dean Koontz Odd Thomas ghost story and Hunger Games. The story revolves around Mackenzie Bishop, otherwise known as Mac, in her new apartment home that was once a hotel and the other world she tends that houses the histories. Librarians read and watch over the histories (life stories of the dead) in the Archives which is only available to a few key people named Keepers as they help keep the histories contained safely in the Archive and not wandering lost in the Outerworld. The Archive is reached by hidden doorways using a key that all the keepers have and it is a secret position. Mac's family is in turmoil after Ben, Mackenzie's little brother is killed by a hit and run driver. Dad tries to keep it together, mom reinvents her career every few months and Da, Mackenzie's grandfather who was a keeper and passed on the position to Mac, has since passed on. Mackenzie has violent run ins with escapees and is in danger of blurring her lives in both the real world and the one she must keep secret but finds a friend in Wes who is also a keeper and has family in the apartment where the Bishops live. Beautifully crafted, this tale has a historic charm and unearthly feel to it as well as terrifying moments and a mystery that will convince you to stay up all night trying to finish the book in one sitting. Mackenzie's grief over her brother's senseless death while helping to guide the newly awakened dead back to where they need to be plays havoc with her sense of reality.