April 9, 2013

The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Now Playing: Arrival of the Birds & Transformation - The Cinematic Orchestra

Goodreads says:
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.

The Archived begins with an intriguing premise, complex characters, and a beautifully haunting location of the Coronado hotel that unravels its history as soon as Mackenzie, our protagonist, steps foot inside.

Mackenzie is cool; aloof and stand off-ish. She's had her Grandfather, or Da, die a little while back with her younger Ben dying just a few months prior to the beginning of The Archived. Mack buries her emotions deep inside her, leaving the reader to feel sadness for her.

What I enjoyed most about the Archived was its incredibly fresh originality about the dead, and the rich history that Schwab reveals to the reader as Mackenzie gets comfortable at her new home at the Coronado hotel. Mack is a fish out of water as her parents decided to move right after Ben's death to the Coronado. Mack still feels the pain of losing him while her parents try to cover it up with happiness. Mack, understandably, gets mad at them as she believes that they're forgetting about him to quickly. Schwab really shows their strained dynamic in the beginning that, again, you feel sadness for the Bishop family.

The plot of the Archived develops quickly so, and considering that Schwab also manages to keep us in Mackenzie's mind as we watch her grapple with the finality of death considering her job as a Keeper and her wishes to be with Ben one last time; in short, it was absolutely fantastic character and plot development.

The mystery of the Coronado also begins relatively early on in; there are Histories waking up and causing havoc around the Coronado, which leads us to a mystery that began around nearly 70 years ago. Residents at the hotel died and then they were buried as Histories (sleeping) until recently when they're woken up by a villain I totally didn't see coming. The mystery hooks you in as you follow Mack tries to unravel it, only to be met with road blocks by the Librarians who are trying to keep things a secret.

Secret organizations, I beg of you, everytime you (try to) keep potentially life-ending secrets hidden they never stay hidden for long. C'mon guys!

The cast of characters in the Archived were lovely to read about; Roland (who I adored), the Librarian who's most like Mack's 2nd caretaker in the world of the Archived; Mackenzie's best friend Lyndsey who's practically perfect as best friend material; the hilariously, awesome Wesley dubbed Guyliner by Lyndsey; Jill, Wesley's adorably annoying cousin; Nix the old man living in the Coronada as well as others.  The main relationships that were really focused on such as Mack and her family's was, at first, tension filled, but turned tender. I loved watching (hearing?) Lyndsey's and Mack's conversations of two best friends miles apart, that also showed Mack trying to keep her Keeper life a secret (even though she really wanted to tell Lyndsey) from her "normal" one. And finally, I really really loved Wesley and Mackenzie's friendship/romance thing ( I also ship it. Lots.)

For me, Mack's relationship with Wesley is really best explained through this gif:

I gushed about the Archived with my librarian who agrees with me that Roland is obviously the best, as we imagined him to be Ten (from Doctor Who) and that the Archived was witty, heartwrenching, and a riveting thriller that you really need to clear out an afternoon to enjoy. As well, The Archived sorta snuck up on me with a shovel, struck me (aka wowed me), stealing a spot on the list of books that I can re-read always.

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