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 that 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.
The Archived by Victoria Schwab was everything I was expecting, and more. I love the idea of a library of the dead, where all your memories and emotions and stuff that makes you you lives on in receptacle that looks like you.
However, sometimes these copies wake up and escape the Archive. They find themselves in the Narrows, an odd corridor like place that exists between the Archive and the waking world. Mac is what’s called a Keeper. Keepers police the Narrows and return escaped Histories (the walking embodiment of all you were in life) back to the Archive before they get through to the real world. Mac’s job was fairly quiet and normal until moving into the Coronado apartment complex. Suddenly Histories are waking quicker than ever and chaos is descending in the Archive. Thankfully Mac gets some help!
Mac is such a well-written character. She’s strong, sad, a little lonely, so very capable and incredibly fierce. I empathize with her so well in the area of losing her brother. I think if I knew my little brother was in a place I could still see him, I would never leave. I think it’s a testament to Mac’s strength that she can mostly resist the temptation. Wes, the help that appears just when Mac needs it most, is completely awesome. He’s laid back, kind, unique, helpful, playful and best of all he just wants to help Mac and be with her. No hidden agenda, no bad boy shenanigans – just a nice guy who can share in an area of Mac’s life that she cannot tell anyone about. And hey, two Keepers must be better than one! Even though she doesn’t get a lot of screen time, Mac’s best friend Lindsey is wonderful as well. I really liked reading about a friendship that lasts past one of the two moving away.
The mystery as to why so many Histories are suddenly waking up is handled very well, with Mac acting the part of detective and trying to figure it all out. There are people you know are involved but not sure how (Owen!), and at points you suspect everyone. No one is innocent until Mac proves them so. The action is faced paced, there’s a scene that nearly broke my heart, and the final reveal on everything is just wow. So good. Mac has a few moments of being stupid, but you can’t really blame her, what with everything that has been going on since she moved into the Coronado. She overcomes those moments quickly and more than makes up for them. Another aspect of the novel that I really enjoyed were the flashbacks to when Mac was learning about the Archive and becoming a Keeper. They slipped seamlessly into the narrative and helped flesh out the backstory AND the present goings-on.
The Archived by Victoria Schwab is one of those books that catches your interest, pulls you in and then just doesn’t let you go. I was completely invested in these characters and this world – I was along for the ride and more than happy to see it through to the end. Victoria Schwab’s writing has a way of really capturing atmosphere and emotions to the point that this book is your new best friend for those all too brief moments you live within its pages.
ARC provided by Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!