This was a reread, and I definitely enjoyed the book more the second time around. Or, at least, my memories of the book were not positive, but my rereading experience was.
Series: The Archived, book 1
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.
This book is great. Such an original concept, and then Schwab executed her vision extremely well.
The characters were amazing. Mac is a successfully painted “strong” female, without falling prey to tropes of that image. She’s independent and fierce, probably to a fault, but I love her. Really, I’m just in love with her type of character–and Schwab painted her masterfully.
Wesley is great. Adds a whole new dynamic to the story and really helps broaden Mac’s character. Can’t say more without spoilers, but READ THE BOOK because Wesley is honestly seriously hot and a good character on top. Not gonna lie.
For me, the most amazing part of the book is the way it deals with grief. Mac has lost her grandfather Da (her mentor in the Archive) and her little brother Ben in the last year, and the pain over both losses heavily affects the plot. However, unlike most books that deal with family death, the sense of loss doesn’t dominate the book. It is heavily entwined but it is not a book about loss. It is a book with a separate, dramatic plot that manages to talk about death and loss surprisingly profoundly. I really appreciated that, because contemporary books dominated by A Dramatic Death In the Past aren’t my cup of tea.
The plot of this book was executed well. The pacing was good, and the plot had a distinct air of foreboding. The reveals are powerful, even when I was rereading it and remembered them.
The story is also written incredibly well. Mac’s voice is clear and relateable. The flashbacks to her time with Da were interspersed into the plot at key moments. They were some of the saddest parts of the book, and I remember tearing up the first time I read the last one (those of you who have read it will know what I’m talking about–so freaking sad!).
I’m sure it’s clear that I loved this book. I’m actually reading the second book, The Unbound, right now, and it’s even better than book one. I’ll have a review for that one sometime soon.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the darker end of YA, strong female protagonists, a good romance, or inherently sad stories.