Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.
Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures 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 may 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.
Title : The Archived
Author : Victoria Schwab
Series : The Archived (book one)
Format : physical/hardback
Page Count : 337
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date : January 22, 2013
Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★
Hollis’ 4 star review
This was another reread I chose to do for a spooky readathon and yet another world I’m really happy to have revisited. Similarly, it’s been about five years since I first read this series but this one has stood out in my mind pretty vividly. Up until Schwab’s most recent release, I considered this duology my favourite by this author. And while it’s easy to see how much progress she’s made as a writer, which sort’ve implies this is inferior.. it isn’t quite that. It’s a different target audience, for one, but yeah it does read a little younger — which is fitting for the characters. But my biggest issue with this on reread is perhaps the pacing. Everything else was still great. Also side note, I guess I just love all of Schwab’s writing when she’s in dark moods or leaning in melancholy and grief?
I flew through in a few short hours (yes I’m one of those one or two sitting binge readers!) and while that clearly implies it sucked me in — which it did! — I think this could’ve done with about a hundred more pages. Some places to flesh out events and characters but also even out some of that change in pace. To a certain degree it makes sense that the latter half is faster because events have escalated and are happening at breakneck speed, and you do get a sense of that slow building with the increase in Histories, so.. maybe it’s not quite so unbalanced. But I still think it would’ve been improved by more. Particularly in the case of a certain romantic element; had it been built up a little slower, giving it more strength, it might have felt less out of character. I got the why of the appeal but it did feel unlike our lead character.
Ultimately, if you didn’t already know, this story deals with a group of people who work for the Archive. Which is where, for all intents and purposes, a copy of those who die are kept. The visual is a big library, everyone a book on the shelf, but a backed up copy of a person’s life and/or upload into the metaphysical Cloud works, too. Within that Archive are levels of people from the Keepers, tasked with returning Histories (what amounts to our ghosts), all the way up to Librarians who monitor the Histories who are sleeping or have been returned to sleep after their escape. There are other players, too, but that’s the gist. It’s not dissimilar to THE STARLESS SEA in that sense but the story itself is vastly different.
After a loss, Mackenzie’s family uproots into a new town, into a new home, and there her responsibilities take an uptick as the hotel-turned-apartment building seems to have a high traffic of Histories to manage. In doing so she meets another Keeper, the first outside of her grandfather, and increasingly things change and also begin to spiral out of control. She’s balancing a new home, a discordant family dynamic as they all try to adjust to the new normal, grief, and suspicions that something within the Archive isn’t right.
There’s feels, and danger, and secrets. And also Wesley. Boy did I ever love him just as much the second time around.
And yes, surprising no one, even though I’ve just completed my required readathon reading by finishing this, I’m diving right into the second book.