The Archived, Book 1
Author: Victoria Schwab
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
Publication Date: January 22, 2013
Description 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.
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.
First Sentence: "The Narrows remind me of August nights in the South."
The whole concept of the Archive makes me so curious. Even now I have a million questions about what's going on with that, which presumably are why there will be more books set in this universe. The Archive stores Histories, all of the memories and pasts of individuals in a container that looks like their body when they were alive. A whole organization keeps everything running smoothly. Librarians watch over the Histories and process new arrivals. Keepers return any Histories that have awakened. If a Histories do manage to get outside, the Crew catches them and returns them.
Mackenzie inherits her talent as a Keeper from her grandfather. Because of her devotion to her grandfather, she commits herself to the task wholeheartedly, even becoming the youngest Keeper ever. Being a Keeper requires Mackenzie to have fighting skills, and also means that she's not at all your average YA heroine so far as mindset goes. For one thing, she hates touching people or animals, because her powers can hear all the "noise" from their thoughts and feelings.
Cool as that is, some of the practicalities really concern me. Mackenzie spends a lot of time doing this, with seemingly no clue how long she is spending in the Narrows or the Archive at any given time. How does she deal with that during the school year? The Histories get rowdier the longer they're left untended, so she cannot just sit around and wait until school lets out to go. The book is set during summer break, but I really want to know how she will handle that in the next book.
Also, Keepers (and Crew) are not allowed to tell anyone about the Archive. In other words, her parents do not know. Despite both being there, her parents are surprisingly absent. They don't even seem like bad parents, but they never notice that their daughter is gone constantly. There role does not fit their characters and feels forced by necessity.
At times, it seems like the Archive is going to venture into a touching story of overcoming the grief of Mackenzie's brother's death. Instead, Ben is a plot point, an excuse for her to be constantly in the Archive and to make some stupid decisions. The novel would benefit from a larger focus on the issues in Mackenzie's life.
Speaking of Mackenzie's life, I would like her and the other characters a lot better if they really had lives. The characterization remains pretty static all the way through. All I know about Mackenzie is that she's a Keeper and that she misses her brother Ben. Wesley (aka Guyliner) is my favorite character, but the reader learns nothing about him aside from what a good friend and Keeper he is. The character with the most depth is actually the antagonist.
As a departure from the norm, one of the aspects of the novel I like best is the romance. First of all, romance is not front and center in the plot. There's some teasing banter between Mac and Wesley, but they're not all over each other, nor do they have a super romantic vibe. Mackenzie actually uses physical connection as an escape mechanism as she gets more stressed out, which is not something I've seen too much in YA fiction.
Schwab makes an odd narrative choice in The Archived. Interspersed throughout the current story are flashbacks to Mackenzie's Da (grandfather) training her to be a Keeper. That, in and of itself, is not weird. However, these sections are written with Mackenzie referring to Da as "you," so you read things like this: "You unbutton your cuffs and roll your sleeves up to the elbows as you speak, and I notice for the first time how many scars you have." They are also very confusing in the beginning, since it's unclear who she is referring to for a while. While this might work for some people, I was thrown out of the story every time I hit one of these snippets.
I will say, though, that the conclusion is pretty dang stunning. There's a lot of action, and I really like the way the Schwab took things there at the end. Of course, it didn't hurt that there were less flashbacks as the story went along, either, allowing the plot to really gain forward momentum. Schwab had me flipping pages with a swiftness to find out how things would go down there at the end.
Yet again, a three star review has come across really negative. Despite all of those criticisms, The Archived held my interest and I am curious enough about the world I might even continue on in the series. All of my friends who have read this already REALLY liked it, so perhaps The Archived and I merely met at the wrong time.
"'Why can't I wake up?' she whispers. Her voice hitches.
'Some dreams,' I say, 'are harder to shake.'"
This ARC is really making the rounds, since I won it from The Bookaholic myself. Due to my overflowing shelves, I try to not to keep books unless I'm fairly certain I'll want to reread, so I'm going to pass my ARC along to one of you guys! US only, since I'm paying for the shipping. For all other rules, refer to Rafflecopter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway