Thursday, May 19, 2016
Review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab
Author: Victoria Schwab
Series: The Archived, Book One
Publication Date: 7 January 2014
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository
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 that 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. (summary from Goodreads)
The characters and story don't hold up to the intrigue of Schwab's world.
I suppose The Archived is another DNF for me. Once more I got about half way through and found myself annoyed and unwilling to put more time into finishing this book. But again, I skim read the rest instead of leaving it entirely unfinished. I wanted to know how it ended and whether my predictions were right. They were. Which was my biggest problem with The Archived unfortunately. The ideas here, the world Schwab has created is so cool. This notion that the afterlife is like an archive blows my mind. Seriously. Souls are sorted and stored in The Archive, but sometimes souls, Histories, escape into The Narrows (imagine dark hallways with many doorways, a place between worlds) and from there can escape into our world, The Outer. There are people trained to look after the Histories and The Archive, then those who ensure Histories escaped into The Narrows return to the Archives, and even others to hunt those who've made it into The Outer. I mean, come on! Are you not intrigued? It's effectively a library of souls! As a librarian all of this just appeals to me in such a big way. So I really wanted to love The Archived. I'd been meaning to read it for years and was psyched to find it at my library. But this awesome world building simply doesn't hold up, not against the love angst filled main storyline. If the focus had have just shifted a little I might have enjoyed this more. There are truly great things about this book but they don't shine enough.
What stands out is Mackenzie, a Keeper who returns Histories from The Narrows, and I just didn't like her. I feel bad about that. Mac is suffering the loss of her younger brother and personally, that really should have resonated with me. But it didn't. And that kind of says it all. I liked Wes a lot, I thought he was funny and had what could have been an interesting backstory if The Archived had have delved into his story more. I didn't really much like Owen as I figured him out real quick. And that's what had me pretty much quitting The Archived. I couldn't get past how flat it all became as I waited for Mac to put it all together. And I would've really been waiting if I had have kept with it! The Archived is quite a short read, I could've pushed through, but that's why I skimmed the rest. The more I waited and Mac fell deeper for Owen the more annoyed I became. The Archived just wasn't for me. I didn't have the patience to deal with the romance. I loved the world but I wasn't feeling it. The only surprise my skimming revealed was that The Archived is the first in a series. I thought it was a standalone and that information decided it for me - it's a nope.
As a DNF probably The Archived should have a 1 star rating, but I give kudos for the cool afterlife concepts.