The Archived

TheArchivedThe Archived by Victoria Schwab
Published: 1-22-13 by Hyperion 
Get the book: Amazon, The Book Depository

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.


Design – Tyler Nevins     Girl photo – Michael Frost     Smoke photo – Maarten Wouters     Additional photos – Tyler Nevins + Shutterstock     Rating – 5/5

This cover is so atmospheric, eerie, and mysterious. It’s a beautiful interpretation of the book. the colors are great – the way the lighting on the girl’s face and the smoke ranges from white to dark blue, the subtle way the bricks in the background are barely noticeable, and the antique gold of the key are all lovely. I love the way the key’s color is reflected in the color choice for the author’s name, and the way the title has a light texture and uses the color of the face. Content-wise, the face from the key is kind of like a History – something only those with keys can encounter.

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The Archived is mind-blowing in all the good ways. The whole time I was reading it, I was thinking to myself ‘oh wow this is amazing.’ The Archived has a fresh premise, interesting characters, an intricate and well explained new world, and a way of keeping you guessing that you’ll love. If you’ve ever seen the Dr. Who 2 part episode The Silence in the Library, this is like that in book form.

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  • back story – The Archive is a fairly complex thing, but the details are revealed in a way that doesn’t make it feel overwhelming. It’s not just a one-time info dump at the beginning. It’s through flashbacks to Mackenzie training for her job with Da, her grandfather. We also get to know more about Mackenzie’s brother who died recently, bit by bit through how she’s dealing with his absence, with moving to a new place without him. Everything unfolds in a way that feels natural.
  • Archive – The Archive is intricate, mysterious, and vast. Every time you think you’ve got a handle on how things work, something else is revealed. Whenever Mackenzie feels like she can count on the Archive’s protocols, something new comes up to throw everything out of balance. The Keepers, the Crew, the Librarians – every part of the Archive is so thought out. The idea of Histories, records of lives stored in the Archive and reading the past of objects is just so interesting. I love the idea that there are doors into the Narrows everywhere but you can only find and access them if you’ve got a key.
  • Wes – I adore Wes and how kind he is. He’s a bit mischievous too, always excited to go looking for Histories. I absolutely love how confident he is and how Mackenzie finds out that he knows about the Archive. Wes is so nice, always trying to help Mackenzie with Histories and with the deafening noise she hears when she touches another person. Plus, he sounds like a rock band.
  • action – There’s just the right amount of action in The Archived, and it’s awesome. Mackenzie trained for ages with Da in order to be ready to fight off the Histories that turn violent. Some Histories are too old, too aware that they might be able to get into the world. Mackenzie has to be cautious, all she has in the Narrows is her wits, herself, and sometimes a knife. She knows how to fight with her body and with her brain to do her job and survive.
  • Ben – Mackenzie lost her little brother recently, and she feels a range of emotions. Her parents are either distant or overly busy as they deal with their grief, but Kenzie comes face to face with the dead on an almost daily basis in the Archive. She knows where Ben is and she’s desperate to get a Librarian to let her talk to him. This isn’t a book where the grief is the only thing on the heroine’s mind, and it’s not a book where it gets pushed to the back of her mind by more immediate problems. Mackenzie deals with Ben’s death throughout the entire book, and she feels some heavy survivor’s guilt.

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  • kissing Owen – The only thing that was off for me was how Mackenzie is described as ‘stealing a kiss’ with Owen. True, I’m not a huge fan of Owen in the 1st place, but it just felt strange to me – like they were together. It felt to me like Kenzie didn’t really like Owen, because she didn’t know him – she was intrigued by him because he was a mystery, and she used him because she couldn’t hear him when they touched. But ‘stealing’ a kiss seems like such a casual thing for people who have kissed once before and don’t know each other at all really.

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“Dinner’s ready,” she says. As if everything is normal. As if we’re home instead of in a cardboard fortress in an old hotel room in the city, trying to hide from my brother’s memories. “Come set the table?”     – pg. 34    Mackenzie + her mom

I reach up, my fingers hovering over a nick on his hairline.
“And this?”
“A History.” Everything stops.
His whole face changes right after he says it, like he’s been punched in the stomach. The silence hangs between us.
And then he does an unfathomable thing. He smiles.
“If you were clever,” he says slowly, “you would have asked me what a History was.”         – pg. 95     Wes + Mackenzie

5robots green5 Robots

Acquired: bought (ebook)


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