Title: The Archived
Author: Victoria Schwab
Series: The Archived, #1
Release Date: January 22nd 2013
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 hardwon redemption.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
After losing her little brother Mackenzie’s parents have decided it’s time for a new start in a new home where there are no memories of Ben to stumble upon. Following her mother’s latest dream Mackenzie and what remains of her family end up uprooting their lives to somewhere where Mackenzie doesn’t only need to deal with a new school once terms starts again, but a new territory for her to patrol as a Keeper.
Ever since her grandfather passed the job onto her Mackenzie has been in charge of keeping the Narrows clear of Histories, all that remains of the dead, returning them to the Archive and making sure none escape into the real world. It’s a lonely job, one that involves a lot of lying to her parents, and one that, now she has lost her brother, gives her a chance to visit Ben in a way her parents are unable to.
However there is something going on in her new home that could have a horrifying affect on both Mackenzie’s lives. The Narrows are filling up with the dead faster than she can clear them, there is unrest in the Archive meaning more and more Histories are at risk of waking, there is a History in the Narrows who isn’t slipping, and there is a decades old murder in Mackenzie’s room which, the more she looks into, the more she discovers something not right with what happened.
The Archived is the first book by Victoria Schwab I read but now that I’ve read more of her books I felt it was past time I went back and re-read this one. There are some books that are never as good the second time you pick them up as they are the first time but that wasn’t the case with The Archived, or The Unbound for that matter. This is a brilliant story, and even knowing what would happen next I still found myself quickly turning pages, desperate to get to the next part of the story and find out what would happen to Mackenzie and Wes.
Mackenzie has been a Keeper for a long time, the job handed down to her when she was only twelve, and as such she has an expert at keeping the two halves of her life separate and lying to her parents, evading their questions when she needs to run to the Narrows and return another History to the Archive. Mackenzie idolises her Da and tries to follow his rules to the letter when it comes to dealing with histories, but there are some she can’t quite follow.
Her position as a Keeper and the knowledge of what the Archive is gives Mackenzie a unique path to her brother even after his death. She knows that the History on the shelf isn’t actually her brother, just a catalogue of his thoughts and memories, but it is something she has which she clings to after losing him so suddenly.
Wesley is a Keeper, like Mackenzie, but he has a different outlook on life and the job they do than she does. While Wesley still keeps his truths close to his chest he opens himself up to people in a way Mackenzie can’t. He hides his real feelings behind humour and is adapt at turning the conversation back on people to avoid answering questions he can’t about his own life.
When they first meet Mackenzie and Wesley have been hiding this big secret and being able to rely on each other is a huge relief. However despite knowing she can trust him Mackenzie still keeps everything close to her chest. She doesn’t tell Wes about what happened to her brother, why she keeps returning to the Archive to sit by his shelf, and she doesn’t mention anything about the History she encounters in the Narrows who isn’t slipping the way Histories are supposed to.
Family plays a big part in The Archived The main aspect is Mackenzie’s relationship with Da, who taught her everything about being s Keeper and passed his job down to her. Mackenzie idolised him and follows his rules like they’re laws for being a proper Keeper. After what happened to Ben Mackenzie’s relationship with her parents is filled with cracks. All of them are doing whatever they can to move on; with Mackenzie it’s throwing herself into her duties and talking to Ben’s shelf, for her mother it’s throwing herself into the coffee shop.
One thing I have always loved about Victoria Schwab’s books is the world building. In The Archived a lot of the story is set in the ‘real world’, which means the world building in this series isn’t as comprehensive as in the Shades of Magic series for example because a lot of it we already know. Everything that comes with Mackenzie being a Keeper – the Archive, the Narrows, the Histories she fights when needed – was well developed though. There’s a certain horror-ish element to the Narrows and the idea of life after death Schwab has written about in this book. The Archive is a giant library, but instead of books it is a catalogue of the dead, and everyone that wakes eventually slips in the Narrow and turns into something that needs to be fought and returned to sleep once more.
While The Archived series isn’t my favourite of Schwab’s books, that honour still belongs to the Shades of Magic series to the surprise of no one, it’s still an interesting and incredibly written story. Schwab is incredibly talented at developing new and fantastical worlds but in this book you can see, especially through Mackenzie, how amazing her character development is as well.
What did you think of The Archived? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.