“Curiosity is a gateway drug to sympathy.”
― Victoria Schwab, The Archived
- Genre: Supernatural
- Pages: 328
- Publisher: Hyperion
- Release Date: January 22nd 2013
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.
Inspired by Dr. Who and a performance to “Gravity” by Sara Barielles on So You Think You Can Dance, I was peaked by this book’s inspirations before I even knew the plot. I was a bit concerned about how it would all come together but, The Archived is an amazing speculative fiction novel, with a story all its own.
The Archive itself is a hidden place where the Histories of the dead are stored in unconscious bodies. When a History wakes and tries to escape the Archive, it’s the job of 16-year-old Mackenzie Bishop to find and return them. It’s a job she excels at until her little brother dies and her family moves to The Coronado, an old hotel renovated into apartments. Suddenly, things are beginning to go wrong in the Archive and Mackenzie is sure it has something to do with The Coronado’s past.
Mackenzie Bishop is a solid character and great protagonist. She’s very present and it is interesting to watch how she deals with keeping the secrets of the Archive and trying to maintain a normal face for her grieving parent. Even when a few love interest get tossed her way she doesn’t let the story get away from her or lose her priorities. Throughout the story we follow her through a range of emotions from reckless vulnerability to strength.
Victoria’s writing is excellent, she writes in a visual way which is important to this story because the only two places the story takes place are The Coronado and the Archive. At a signing I went to, Victoria said having a sense of place was important in her debut novel, The Near Witch and it’s clear that has translated over to The Archived.
The POV will switch at times from Mackenzie’s first person present to a second person POV where she is having a memory about her dead grandfather. It is jarring at first, but the more I read it the more it seemed to flow and fit into the story.
The other characters in this story are equally dynamic. Mackenzie’s new friend, Wesley Ayers offers a different side to the life Mackenzie lives. The character of Roland, one of the ageless Librarians who has given up life in the outside world to work in the library, has a pretty complex relationship with Mackenzie between parent and friend. At the signing Victoria said his character is based on David Tennant which isn’t hard to guess when he is described as “built like a stick figure with a young face but old gray eyes and dark hair” and “dark pants [that] run right into a pair of bright red Chucks”
There are some plot points that are never quite explained, like what the point of the Archive and what all of it’s rules are exactly and I hope we can get further into in the next novel, The Unbound.
With a high stakes mystery, intense action and unexpected plot reveals, The Archived is an intriguing supernatural mystery that I can’t wait to do a re-read on.
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I’m a lifelong reader who started blogging about YA books in 2011 but now I read in just about every genre! I love YA coming of age stories, compelling memoirs and genre bending SFF. You can find me talking all things romance at Romance and Sensibility.