This past November was notable for being the first NaNoWriMo in which I not only wrote like a maniac, I did it while also reading through a stack library books. No, I don’t know what I was thinking; yes, I’m mighty pleased for having broken through personal boundaries like an ever-lovin’ boss.
Now that NaNo and “Sun’s Rival” Launch Week are behind me, I can finally start thinking about writing up some reviews, such as this.
Genre: Paranormal YA
Blurb: 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 she 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.
My Thoughts: There are books I enjoy. There are books that excite me. And ever so rarely, there is a book where reading it feels like home.
Reading “The Archived” was home.
I think it’s mostly thanks to the prose. Schwab wrote in such a way that pretty much every phrase felt like it just belonged; the kind of writing that reads so easy, you wonder at the amounts of work that had to have gone into the making of the magic.
Of course, in matters of voice, I must give due credit to the speaker – in this case, Mackenzie Bishop. Her telling of the tale held me engaged from start to end, transporting me to and from remembered moments with the grandfather who mentored her and her present life as a Keeper. She finds herself in a challenging position that only gets tougher as the story goes on, and she handles it humanly, full of brave intentions and of choices good and bad.
The Archive itself is a fascinating place, more of a mystery than even Mac at first knows to suspect. (Hats off to Schwab for dreaming up such a premise!) On the other side of things is the normal life she tries to keep separate from her secret job – if getting to live in a cool old hotel counts as officially normal. Also in the almost-too-cool-for-normal category is Wesley, a fun personality in guyliner whom I, for one, would be pleased to make a friend of mine.
As the plot goes on, stakes raise, enigmas intensify, and dangers compound, until the next thing I know, it’s two in the morning, and shut up, bedtime, I’m read— HOLY WOW, I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING, OH NO (in a “yay for shocking revelations” sort of way)!
HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): Schwab had me at “Vicious”, and “The Archived” gripped me more tightly still. I’ve read a decent number of books, over the course of 2014, and this novel may well tie for favorite. (Sharing the spot with “The Dream Thieves”.) If/when I’ve got post-Christmas book money, this one’s going to have a place on my shelf.