Review: The Archived

Author: Victoria Schwab
Series: The Archived #1
Publication Date: January 22, 2013
Publisher: Hyperion
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
Source: Won
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.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

This book blew me away. I have no other way to describe my feelings. While THE NEAR WITCH was enjoyable and likeable, this book was so much more. Schwab has gone from a good author, to an extraordinary one in the duration of two novels--quickly becoming one of my favorites!

What really makes this book stand out is the unique tale behind it. Schwab created a world that I never thought possible. When people die, they are sent to the Archive. There, they became Histories, with a capital H and not a little h. These Histories tell the stories of those who have passed away and are stored in replicas of their bodies. They rest on shelves in a library like books, and they hold every possible secret imaginable. However, sometimes Histories wake up and escape from the Archive in the Narrow--a world full of darkness and doors that lead to the real world, Return rooms, and unknown voids. It is up to Keepers to hunt down these escaped Histories and Return them before they go insane. A mind-blowingly unique and scarily awesome concept, don't you think?

But that isn't the only world that this book takes place in. Aside from this alternate universe-like portal for the dead, the book also takes place in the Coronado. The Coronado is a very old building that is crumbling while the Bishop family moves into it to escape the early death of her younger brother, Ben. It was once a hotel and then it was converted into an apartment building. Very little is known about its history because someone went out of there way to get rid of important aspects of the history that caused the Coronado to be vacant for many decades. What Mackenzie soon finds out is that the hidden piece of a murderous rampage from fifty years ago in her new building somehow coincides with the Archive and all those in it. Someone has gone rogue. This aspect of the plot lent itself to eerie mysteries, intrigue, and some really awesome fight scenes once some huge discoveries were made. Schwab, I've noticed, is really good at allowing her novels to have an air of creepiness that is only the slightest bit unnerving, but more or less enrapturing.

While the characters were great, the plot really overshadowed them. But even then, Mackenzie is a heroine that is easy to love. She misses her Da (who is her Grandfather, not her Dad) because he is the one who trained her to be a Keeper to replace his own position once he passed away due to old age. Every now and then there is actually a letter written to Da from Mackenzie that really tugs on the heartstrings while adding important background information to the story. We were able to catch glimpses on how she was raised and trained behind her oblivious parent's backs, and I thought this was a very nice touch to the story. She's strong and stubborn, focused and slightly rebellious--not necessarily all positive traits, but certainly a bunch of traits that make a very likable character in this case.

And then there are the boys...Wesley and Owen. There isn't really a love triangle in this one, but there sort of is. What I mean is one of the boys is a friend that is unintentionally getting friend-zoned, and one of the boys is used for a sense of normalcy and quiet in an otherwise loud world. So, I have to say that this is a romantic plot I agree with. Wesley's young cousin lives in the Coronado and that is why he often shows up in Mac's territory. He, too, is a Keeper, and once they discover each other it's only natural for them to become the best of friends and eventually butt-kicking partners. Wesley's attitude is infectious, but gah, I still cringe at his clearly cliche emo characterization. Spiked hair that is inches high, black nail polish, guyliner... Oh well, I suppose everyone has to have some sort of flaws to them. Even with those pet peeves of mine, he is one amazing boy. And then there's Owen. Light blond hair and eyes so blue you can get lost in them. He's a gentle History that is walking the Narrows unknown to anyone. He brings quietness to Mackenzie's world, and she immediately wants to learn more about him. Histories naturally slip and go insane quickly after waking up, which is why the Keepers must find them and Return them before they become volatile, but Owen never slipped, so why is he so different?

I think, to put it simply, this book can rock just about anyone's socks off. Schwab's immense creativity shines through with this one and I urge everyone to give this one a try or you will regret it! As for now, I am slowly craving book two. While the ending was no cliff-hanger, I simply need to devour the next chapter in Mackenzie's story.

5 stars



  1. I'm so glad you liked this one, Lili! I just reviewed this a couple days ago - and of course I gave it five stars. The Archived was SO creative - seriously, Schwab is a genius for coming up with the world and the concept. I loved that this book could have totally been fast-paced and plot-driven, but Schwab took the time to really develop and study her characters. I think that in the hands of another writer, this might have fallen flat.

    Plus the couple twists at the end I definitely didn't see coming. And I especially loved that the ending was a true ending, and not just a cut-off cliffhanger like other YA trilogies.

  2. I want to read this book so bad. I have a kindle copy but honestly, the HC is so gorgeous I want to wait until I have a copy of it before I read it! I want the full experience :)