May 20, 2014

BOOK REVIEWS | The Archived & The Unbound by Victoria Schwab

Basic information
Title: The Archived
Author: Victoria Schwab (Website)
Series: The Archived #1
Genre: young adult
Published by: Hyperion in January 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 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. 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 idea behind The Archived is very unique and unlike anything I have ever read. I can't quite categorize it and that makes me quite excited. I've been reading a lot of the same lately. It's either a dystopian or a paranormal romance or a historical fiction. This book is none of those things. And that's what makes me like this book so much.

I thought the book was very well written. The flashbacks/memories give you insight in Mackenzie's life and past. There are no dragging or boring moments and the book wasn't unnecessarily long. It's fast-paced and action packed and I gets really mysterious at times. It's also a little spooky sometimes but I guess that's because I imagined the Coronado as a medieval-like building. Which it actually is.
The plot-twist at the end was incredible and I thought it was brilliant.

The most interesting character was definitely Owen. He's different from the start and the author makes you see his character in a whole 'nother way than how he actually he is. I also liked Wesley a lot. Because he was really funny and because he has an 'alternative' style that most people would frown upon but he's actually the most awesome guy ever. The other characters were all interesting in their own way.

The Archived could in theory be a stand-alone book. There is this sort of closure at the end but at the same time you still have questions. You're still tempted to read the sequel but you could also be satisfied with just The Archived.

Basic information
Title: The Unbound
Author: Victoria Schwab
Series: The Archived #2
Genre: young adult
Published by: Hyperion in January 2014
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. Last summer, Mackenzie Bishop, a Keeper tasked with stopping violent Histories from escaping the Archive, almost lost her life to one. Now, as she starts her junior year at Hyde School, she's struggling to get her life back. But moving on isn't easy -- not when her dreams are haunted by what happened. She knows the past is past, knows it cannot hurt her, but it feels so real, and when her nightmares begin to creep into her waking hours, she starts to wonder if she's really safe.
 Meanwhile, people are vanishing without a trace, and the only thing they seem to have in common is Mackenzie. She's sure the Archive knows more than they are letting on, but before she can prove it, she becomes the prime suspect. And unless Mac can track down the real culprit, she'll lose everything, not only her role as Keeper, but her memories, and even her life. Can Mackenzie untangle the mystery before she herself unravels? With stunning prose and a captivating mixture of action, romance, and horror, The Unbound delves into a richly imagined world where no choice is easy and love and loss feel like two sides of the same coin.

There's a gap between the first and the second book of 3 weeks. Not much happened in those 3 weeks except for the fact that Wesley made a few moves on Mackenzie and she didn't want to have a relationship with him (yet). I hadn't even realised Wes felt this way about her!

I had to get used to the new setting (the school) in the beginning. In the previous book we literally don't leave the Coronado and the Narrows but in this second book, Mackenzie starts school. The characters didn't seem to fit into that scene. As time passed and I kept on reading, it was fine.

There's a bunch of new characters introduced in The Unbound. There's a bigger cast than in the first book. Most of them are the people at Mackenzie's new school. I'm not a big fan of high-school drama, and luckily we didn't get much, or any, of that. That's kind of what I was afraid of when finding out the MC was going to school again. I was also happy to find Wesley still being in the picture. As for the characters from the previous book: most of them come back but some stay in the background.

So, this book is such a big mind-fuck. At one point I thought there was no way Mackenzie was going to get out of the trouble she was in and how she could possibly explain what had been going on. But she did! Mackenzie is such a smart and strong female lead, yet at the same time she's just a teenage girl that has her weaknesses and her flaws.

I loved the amount of mystery in The Unbound. It's much more mysterious that The Archived yet you can guess what the big plot-twist will be. We spend much less time in the Narrows in this book though. Instead we are more focused on the things happening at school and in Mackenzie's life. She is busy trying to figure out what's going on and kind of neglects her duty as a Keeper at some point.

It's obvious this series isn't over yet, when you read the last page of The Unbound. I seriously hope there will be a third book. I haven't read any news on what Victoria Schwab's publisher has decided but one thing is for sure: The Archived series needs a third book.

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