The Archived by Victoria Schwab
Published: January 28th 2014 by Hyperion
Format/Source: Purchased hardback
Series: The Archived #2
Genre: Young Adult paranormal thriller
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.
Last summer, Mackenzie Bishop, a Keeper tasked with stopping violent Histories from escaping the Archive, almost lost her life to one. Now, as she starts her junior year at Hyde School, she’s struggling to get her life back. But moving on isn’t easy — not when her dreams are haunted by what happened. She knows the past is past, knows it cannot hurt her, but it feels so real, and when her nightmares begin to creep into her waking hours, she starts to wonder if she’s really safe.
Meanwhile, people are vanishing without a trace, and the only thing they seem to have in common is Mackenzie. She’s sure the Archive knows more than they are letting on, but before she can prove it, she becomes the prime suspect. And unless Mac can track down the real culprit, she’ll lose everything, not only her role as Keeper, but her memories, and even her life. Can Mackenzie untangle the mystery before she herself unravels?
With stunning prose and a captivating mixture of action, romance, and horror, The Unbound delves into a richly imagined world where no choice is easy and love and loss feel like two sides of the same coin.
The Archived was by far one of my favorite paranormal young adult books I’ve read. There was this element of ‘what if’ expertly placed within a world instantly recognizable as real. The Unbound leads the reader back into this world with Mackenzie’s emotional fallout from the conclusion of The Archived.
It is a rare thing that I read a sequel directly after reading the first one. With The Unbound, I don’t feel like it was as imperative to read the preceding book as it can be with other series. Schwab does a fantastic job with providing background on key parts of The Archived that should be remembered as The Unbound develops. Essentially, there was a ‘previously on’ segment in The Unbound that was also not front-loaded to avoid reader-fatigue.
The Coronado is perhaps one of my favorite settings in a book. An old hotel-turned-apartments has a certain level of romanticism in it that is easily the best setting for a world where doors can lead to more than just the other room. Additionally, the characters beg to be cared about; who doesn’t leave the books thinking about Wesley and Mackenzie, Cash and Amber? (Especially Wesley—what a great character!) There is characterization throughout the story that allows the reader to get to know the character and help keep them distinct.
However, I did not enjoy The Unbound quite as much as I liked The Archived. The middle of the book focused too much on the psychological deterioration of Mackenzie for my liking. It’s one of those various instances in reading where you can certainly justify a character’s actions or lack of actions based on who they are and who they have become. But sometimes, it can become a little tiresome to read, when you almost wish a fast forward button to get past the internal turmoil and get back to the plot. I don’t mean to sound harsh because in no way does it make this book less appealing to me; it was simply just not as enjoyable for me as the first one had been.
It is unfortunate that there is a distinct possibility that a sequel to The Unbound will not be published. I am eternally grateful that Schwab does not leave horrific cliffhangers regardless—there is really nothing more disappointing than spending hours on a book to be left with a half-ending. However, there are really so many more places this story can go or really this world can go, and I really hope to one day dive back into the archive, through the narrows, into the outer of Mackenzie’s world.