Series: The Archived (books 1 + 2) by Victoria Schwab
Series book 1 + 2 overal rating: 4 stars
Book 1: The Archived – 4 stars
Book 2: The Unbound – 4 stars
Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books. Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures 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 may crumble and fall.
Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books. Well now if that isn’t a great start to a synopsis I don’t know what is. While I found these books highly enjoyable, it did not quite reach 5 stars for me. I fear the dreaded expectations came in the way again.
I did have quite different expectations of the archive and the main character before I started this book, and I don’t think I could ever quite shake my expectations of the archive throughout reading the first book. Expectations are so difficult when books and authors are so highly hyped or praised.
Despite that I did really enjoy these two books. The world, despite being somewhat different than I thought, was very interesting. Together with the main character we are learning things about the archive. I also appreciated that Mac didn’t hide her second life for a few chapters but threw it at us from the start. As for the plot, the twists at the ending of both books weren’t that surprising. It was clear in both cases which way it was going to head. That didn’t necessarily bother me though.
I felt the prologue of The Archived was really strong. It struck a cord with me. If it had been like that throughout the rest of the book(s) I think I would have been in love. But it did not quite live up to that prologue. There are flashbacks in both books, sometimes a few in a chapter, that are written in the same style of that prologue. I understand why they were put in, but it disrupted the flow a little for me.
The characters I really liked. Mackenzie feels so broken throughout both these books, but mostly in the second due to ptsd. I liked that the events of the first book didn’t completely leave her unaffected. For the most part I liked her, though I constantly wished she would just tell Wesley things. It would have made things easier in both books. Speaking of Wesley, I really liked him. He’s smart and loyal. I enjoyed the connection he made with Mac. The other characters, like her parents and the friends in high school, are interesting. One thing I noticed though is that Mac seems to make the strongest connections with the guys, and there tends to be flirting. I would have liked to have seen Lyndsey, her friend before moving, to have had a bigger role since she only moved an hour away.
As for the romance. I did not really like the triangles that appeared in both books. While the first one was somewhat important to the plot, it didn’t really work for me. I felt Mac jumped into that without thinking, and that first scene of it didn’t really make sense to me.