Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Archived #1 by Victoria Schwab

Welcome to a world where the dead are shelved like books in an archive because every life has a story and when you die, your story becomes a history, a history that can only be read by a staff Librarian.  But sometimes, a history wakes up and wanders, confused about where they are and why.  Usually they don't get further than the Narrows, a dark place separating the outer world from the Archive.

It is the task of a Keeper to return the history to its rightful place.  And that is what 16 year old Mackenzie Bishop has been trained to do by her own grandfather, Da.  When she became a Keeper, she was only 12, the youngest Keeper ever (the usual age for becoming a Keeper is 16).

Mac and her parents have recently moved to a run-down former hotel turned apartments after the death of her 10 year old brother Ben.  Mac hasn't been able to come to terms with Ben's death and keeps going to the Archive, asking to spend time with Ben, or rather where his shelf is.  A Keeper cannot have any direct contact with the dead, except to return them when they wake.

The first thing Mac discovers in her new home is that the murder of a girl about 15 years old has occurred in her room back in the early 1950s.  And the murderer just walked away.  Now Mac is curious to see if he actually did get away with murder or if he was caught.  Perhaps some of the present residents can help enlighten her.

It doesn't take long for Mac to meet Wesley, who turns out to be another Keeper and a possible love interest.  The problem is as a Keeper whenever Mac touches another person, she can read them and the noise is unbearable, but she hasn't learned how to successfully block it out the way her Da and Wesley have.

Mac also meets Owen in the Narrows who saves her life when a history attacks her with a knife.  But Owen is a little odd, and might or might not be a love interest.  When Owen touches Mac, she feels no noise, just an addictive quiet peacefulness throughout here being.  Either way, he asks Mac to be allowed one more day before she returns him to the Archive.  Mac agrees, which she seems to think is OK since his name was never on her list of wandering histories.

But suddenly there are lots of histories waking up and wandering the Narrows, more than she has ever had to deal with before.  So many that she has had to accept some help for Wesley.  And it is all the more difficult because her parents don't know she is a Keeper and they want her around to help get her mother's new cafe clean and in order.

Can Mac solve the problem of so many histories are escaping?  Could there a breach in the Archive by one of the Librarians?  Can it all be somehow tied to the murder in her room?

I have to confess I had a hard time getting into this book, but then all of a sudden, I couldn't put it down.  Mackenzie was an interesting character, stressed by being such a young Keeper and having to constantly lie to her parents and disappearing on them.  The story is told in first person by her, but there are times when it is in third person, but they are her memories of being trained by her Da and of their close relationship.   I thought Wesley, with his spiky hair and thick black eyeliner was kind of a fun guy, able to relax and have fun and maybe, just maybe help Mac learn to do it, too.  He was certainly the most appealing love interest.

There were a few weak spots in the novel.  For one thing, I did finish the book wondering what the purpose of the Archive is.  It isn't like anyone could go there, read a history and do something with it.

Still, to Schwab's credit, I did not see the ending coming and that was kind of fun.  I hate when a mystery is so transparent, I can figure the ending out half way through a book.  All in all, The Archived is a  well-done, exciting story that should be read by anyone who enjoys a good paranormal story.  It is apparently the first in a proposed series, but it also works really well as a stand alone novel.

This book is recommended for readers age 12+
This book was received from the publisher

This is book 2 of my 2012 YA/MG Fantasy Reading Challenge hosted by The Book Cellar

1 comment:

  1. Your book review is riveting. It sounds like a great read!


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