Book Review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

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 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 Rating: 5 cupcakes

The Archived is one of the most unique books that I’ve ever read. Imagine a library, but instead of books sitting on the shelves, there are dead bodies with all of their memories preserved; this is the Archive. Of course, as with any library, the Archive has a group of dedicated staff: Librarians who catalogue the dead, and Keepers who return the Histories (the dead) when they have woken up and left the Archive. It’s such a spooky and fascinating premise, and as information about the Archive was slowly revealed, I found myself wanting to learn even more. It was really easy to get lost in this world that Schwab created, and with the incredibly detailed descriptions, it wasn’t hard to imagine that such a place could exist.

All of the characters in The Archived were incredibly fleshed out and alive – even the secondary characters who only grace a few pages. Da managed to make the biggest impression on me, despite the fact that he was only seen in flashbacks, and I absolutely adored Roland, a librarian who reminded me so much of the Tenth Doctor in his mannerisms and the way that he dressed.

Mackenzie is easily one of my favourite YA protagonists. She’s strong, intelligent, resourceful, and very easy to relate to. The muted grief, anger, frustration, and guilt that she feels over the loss of both her brother and her grandfather are so palpable and realistic, and really resonated with me due to my own experiences with loss.

I quickly fell head over heels for Wesley, who is the perfect love interest. I’m so glad that the fact that he wore guyliner, painted his nails black, and had the whole black spiky hair and clothing thing going on didn’t result in the typical angsty goth characterization. He’s charming, sweet, and witty, and his sense of humour is certainly a refreshing break from the rather dark and heavy plot. I especially love how the romance is subtle ’cause, you know, Mac is a little bit busy with sending back violent Histories who could kill someone on the Outside.

Overall, The Archived is absolutely fantastic. It’s a really interesting murder mystery filled with twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and will leave you thinking about the story long after you’ve finished.

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