Book Review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Book: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Published January 2013 by Disney Worldwide Publishing|324 pages

Where I Got It: I own the e-book

Series: The Archived #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

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.

I’m starting to think that Victoria Schwab’s books aren’t for me.  I read This Savage Song last year, and thought things were more confusing than they really needed to be.  I felt that way about The Archived, which is disappointing, because things really picked up towards the end, and it really is a cool idea.

I just wish things weren’t so confusing for most of the book.  I really like the idea that the dead are in this archives, and are basically copies of themselves.  But the concept of the Archives and Keepers and territories is so poorly explained that by the time I was interested in what was going on, it was too late.

For one thing, I kept confusing her grandpa (Da) and her dad.  Also: her dad is mentioned in the beginning of the book, which is when we see him, and then he just disappears, never to be seen again.  We see her mom quite a bit, though, so at least she has one parent who’s there.  I couldn’t quite figure out what happened to him, and I was never quite sure if he was dead or alive.  Especially with the flashbacks of how she became a Keeper.  Which was in a different font to make it obvious it was different than the rest of the novel.

What is explained about this world is never explained in a way that actually makes sense.  The timeline was weird, and there were these time jumps that didn’t make a lot of sense.  In fact, they made things more confusing because I felt like I had to keep track of more things.  I didn’t understand how everything fit, and I couldn’t picture this world at all.

The characters weren’t particularly interesting either.  I didn’t really care what happened to Mac or Wes, and I thought they were really bland.  Things did get a little more interesting towards the end of the book, but at that point, I no longer cared.  I also wondered why The Archived hadn’t been like that since the beginning.

1 star.  The book was too confusing and poorly explained to care what happened.  It’s sad, since the idea is cool, but it didn’t work for me at all.

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