Review: The Archived (The Archived #1) by Victoria Schwab

Rating: *** / 3 out of 5
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mystery, Paranormal
Published January 22, 2013 by Hyperion
Goodreads | Amazon

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.


There’s no bitter feeling like the feeling of disappointment. When I opened and started this book, it was with high expectations, especially since over the weeks before its release, I’ve seen and read raving reviews about it left and right, giving me the impression it’s more than just any ordinary read. So imagine my dismay when I turned the last page, it left me feeling… nothing. Ok, the author has a knack for writing. She’s good at it, that much I admit. But behind the colourful words and intricately written proses, are a plot and a set of characters that left behind a bland, dull, cardboard-like taste in my mouth. It’s kind of hard to explain, but let’s wing it as usual, shall we?

Let’s just say the overall premise could’ve been much more. The book boasts of an incredibly imaginative world called The Archive, where the dead are shelved like books. When they die, they sleep here, and what remains is simply a History. However, why they are shelved so, is not thoroughly explained. There are librarians that keep these Histories in check, and Keepers who hunt Histories who got to go out. But unfortunately, due to what I deem as poor plot development and dragging escalation of events, this imaginative world quickly becomes oh-too-forgettable. In my opinion, the world’s potential wasn’t fully explored, and quickly became a mere background.

But the plot’s not at fault here. It’s the main character.  The story is seen in the eyes of Mackenzie, a teenage Keeper who inherited her role from her grandfather. Due to certain circumstances, she got this role a little bit early than usual. She and her parents moved in to the Coronado, a hotel-turned-apartment  an hour from her home, mainly to escape from the things that remind them of Ben, their now dead brother and son. However, throughout the story, our heroine, who was described as strong-willed and brave by her grandfather, kept brooding on her brother’s unfortunate death. In short, too much angst for my life. 

Her actions pretty much revolved around Ben. At first, it evoked feelings of sympathy from me, but when chapter upon chapter were all about her guilty feelings for not having done differently that could have reversed the circumstances, it can get pretty damn annoying. Yeah, I know, people grieve differently, but when your stupid actions affect other people already, maybe it’s time for a reality check. Because of this, she felt so one-dimensional. The side characters were the same way as well, and it was only Wesley, the “Guyliner”, who gave colour to the book. Aside from being too bland, the constant wallowing in of self-loathing made the book too slow. Yeah, it does catch up after fifty percent, but it was still too slow for my tastes. There was too much internal narration saying the same things over and over, and too much details about, well, everything. The book wouldn’t have gone any different if these things were cut by half.

It still gets three stars from me, though. Why? Well, for starters, the mystery aspect to this was enjoyable. It was fun reading about the Coronado’s dark past despite the very slow pace. Wesley was fun to read, and Roland, the strict yet lenient mentor, was my favorite. The steady romance was a plus as well. But so far, that’s the only positives I’ve seen, and as for the next book, I may read it just to see how the rest of the series will go.

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A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena


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  1. says

    Thanks for the honest review. No matter how well received a book may be, someone is bound not to like it. I’m reading this one soon. I’ll keep an eye out for the stuff you said. Hopefully I won’t end up getting disappointed like you did.

    • says

      Indeed :/ Just sad that I gave it 3 stars in the end… before I started, I was so sure this would be a 4 stars at least. Let me know how you fare once you read it.

  2. says

    Hi, Faye!

    Liked your review. I ll check out this book whenever i get chance. I found your awesome blog from blogaholic and now your newest follower :)