Review (kind of): The Archived

10929432Title: The Archived
Author: Victoria Schwab
Genre: Magical realism, young adult

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:
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.

Everyone I knew was raving about Vicious, and it sounded just like something I would love. I read it, and I liked it, but it was definitely not love. I decided to give The Archived a chance, hoping for some glimmer of what I missed in Vicious. Unfortunately, this book was also pretty lukewarm for me.

What makes this difficult for me to review is that I don't quite know why I am not convinced by these books. The premises seem like things I would like, and I've only heard good things about them from around the blogosphere. To me, Victoria Schwab is in a similar boat as Patrick Rothfuss: Both of them seem like such awesome, cool people from their blog posts and social media presence, and I love and respect them as people, but I just cannot connect with their books.

I think my main problem with The Archived was that I didn't connect enough with the characters (ironic, considering how "The Big Issue" for the main character was/is one of mine as well). I thought the concept of the Archive was cool - as someone who loves stories (and people), it is so comforting to imagine that all of our stories and experiences are held somewhere safe after we die. It is also remarkably disturbing to think of someone violating and extinguishing those stories, yet somehow I never seriously felt any urgency in the book as this was happening. The main character kept getting away with so much, kept being rewarded without good reason, that I felt like nothing could actually go badly for her. It's hard to root for someone who magically gets her way all the time.

I don't think I will be reading any more of this series, but I am not done reading V.E. Schwab. I'm hoping A Darker Shade of Magic will be the book to convert me into a fan!

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  1. I read this when it first came out and I remember really enjoying it but I don't really remember what I enjoyed about it. I bought the sequel but have yet to read it and I started Vicious and just could not get into it!

  2. These are the hardest types of books to review - where you just weren't thrilled, but you can't even really put your finger on why. The best you can do is just tell people that!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction


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