The Archived by Victoria Schwab
Publication: January 22, 2013 (Hyperion)
Source: ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
___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.
There are no windows because there is no outside, and yet above the shelves there is a vaulted ceiling of glass and light. The place is vast, and made of wood and marble, long tables running down the center like a double spine, with shelves branching off to both sides like ribs. The partitions make the cavernous space seem smaller, cozier. Or at least fathomable.
The Archive is everything you told me it would be: a patchwork...wood and stone and colored glass...all thorughout, a sense of piece.
But you left something out. It is beautiful.
I think one of the marks of a great author is one who is able to write characters that you remember long after you read about them. Victoria does that with not just one, or a few, but with all of the characters in The Archived. Whether they grace one page or many, they're fantastically alive, from Mac to Wesley, to Ben, to Roland, to Nix. I admired Mac's tenacity and her huge heart, Wes's humor and caring, Roland's patience with Mac. I fell head over heels for Wes, and needed more, more, more of Wesley and Mac together - I really enjoyed watching their friendship grow. But by far the characters that made the deepest impression on me were the ones who weren't in The Archived as much; it says a great deal, to me, when the secondary characters can fill your eyes with tears and make your heart ache.
I read The Archived over the course of several days - slowly, because I didn't want to finish it. It's so much - a mystery with a blush of romance, a study in how grief can tear apart or repair relationships, a rich parallel world running alongside our own. Victoria tenderly paints such vivid images in The Archived - of escape, of love, of friendship. Along with being an ethereal story, it's just gorgeously written. There are passages about Mac's losses that just ripped my composure to pieces; there are other sentences that sewed me back together. Victoria is an artist when it comes to wording and evoking feelings.
I loved that Victoria wasn't afraid to face uncomfortable issues like death, loss, unhealthy relationships, and dealing with those things. I liked that some characters weren't who I thought they were, and that seeing all of this through Mac's eyes felt genuine. We were in her point of view; we made mistakes with her - and grew with her, too. Mac's behavior isn't excused like happens in other books I've read. She makes some bad calls, but she kept trying, and I applaud her for that. I enjoyed that relationships were explored and built, torn down, and rebuilt. I loved the world of the Archive - the Histories, the Librarians, the Keepers, and their rules and customs. I liked the overall mystery, and all the revelations - some I guessed, some I didn't. I was fascinated by The Archive, and I wanted to stay forever. I wanted to be there with Mac, and I guess in a lot of ways while I read The Archived, I was. I can't wait to go back.
Other books by this author:
The Near Witch
I am the product of a British mother, a Beverly Hills father, and a southern upbringing. Because of this, I have been known to say "tom-ah-toes", "like", and "y'all". But since this is about what I write and not how I pronounce my a's, I will say that I tell stories.
I'm a lover of fairy tales, and folklore, and books that make me wonder if the world is really as it seems. I love writing about doors, and places between, and the cracks where reality slips into something darker, stranger, and invariably more interesting.
Visit Victoria online at: her blog | her twitter | her website