I was super-excited when I received an advance copy of Victoria Schwab’s newest book, The Archived in my mailbox. This has been one of the year’s most anticipated releases across the blogosphere (yes, I’m aware it’s only January, but still) and the concept sounded fascinating and original. I’m excited for you all to be able to experience it when it releases TOMORROW.
The Plot (from Goodreads):
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.
This story was amazing. Victoria’s prose is gorgeous and atmospheric, and it was easy to lose myself in the story. She reveals the workings and mythology of The Archive in bits and pieces instead of info-dumping all at once, so when I started out, it took me a little bit to get my bearings. But gradually, without really noticing it was happening, I began to understand. And before I knew it, I was totally immersed in Mackenzie’s world.
What I liked about Mac was that she was strong, but flawed. She constantly tried to do her best, but made some very bad decisions. She had been trained to be so secretive that she didn’t ask for help when she needed it. She had closed her emotions to the point where she didn’t notice warning signs and ignored her gut instincts. But what was amazing about this is that because of the way her character was developed, I understood why she was doing those things. I may not agree with them, but it made sense. I liked that she wasn’t perfect and sometimes didn’t piece together the clues about what was happening until it was too late.
I know I’m painting her as kind of clueless, and you may be wondering what’s so appealing about a closed-off and ignorant character, but she was also smart, resourceful, and determined. She was just a very well-rounded and human character, which in a story with such fantastic elements, kept it grounded in the believable.
Then there was Wes, who I thought was fabulous. Although there’s hints of romance between him and Mac, he’s so much more than just “the love interest.” Wesley has his own struggles and complexities. I loved how his approach to life not only differed from Mac’s, but challenged her, and how while Mac is undoubtedly the hero of the story, Wes has his moments of heroism as well. I can’t wait to learn more about Wes in the sequels.
The plotting and pacing of The Archived was excellent. I felt like I was constantly gaining new insight into the world while asking new questions. Victoria is a master at keeping the reader turning pages, giving enough information to appease, but not so much that you stop asking questions. She weaves small details into the early pages that you don’t realize are important until the end, so that a savvy reader may be able to figure out what’s going on…but probably won’t. I like when plot twists are subtly foreshadowed, because it makes the payoff that much more satisfying.
Ultimately, I thought The Archived was a beautifully written, tightly plotted, brilliantly original story. I was riveted from beginning to end, and can’t wait to see what Victoria has planned next for these characters.