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 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.
The Archived by Victoria Schwab was one of those books I was sure I would love. It just seemed natural. My bookish twins enjoyed it, the premise was promising, and the reviews (from those I trust) were all awe-inspiring. But it just didn’t work for me. Which irks my flipping soul because I REALLY wanted to love this freaking book!
I (like most book nerds) fell heads over heels in love with the thought of a book that deals with “a place where the dead rest on shelves like books”. That was probably the coolest concept I’ve ever heard and I itched for the moment when I’d get to experience it. And while the book delivers with its premise, I had a rough time with the characters. Especially Mackenzie, our MC.
Mackenzie, or Mac, is a Keeper. A person entrusted with helping the dead (Histories) who “wake up” find their way back to sleep before they somehow escape out into our world and go on a confused killing spree. And this isn’t some cake job! She gets punched, kicked, tackled and even stabbed by some of these woken Histories. But she held her chin up and went to work whenever she was summoned, and I loved her drive and badassery for that, but her personality really bugged me. As did almost every other character.
Mac’s little brother Ben died, about a year ago (hit and run drunk driver) and her family has swept all their thoughts and feelings under a rug about his death. I know everyone handles grief differently and I appreciate Schwabs way of writing a palpable grief but sometimes I was really annoyed by it. I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose a sibling, nor would I want to. But even I know you can’t just ignore his death and have that kind of pain all bottled up inside. Mac often spoke about wanting to shake her mother and yell at her because she couldn’t see how badly she was hurting, and all I could think was “hello pot! thy name is kettle!”. I get her being upset, I expect that, but the way she handled that grief and anger just didn’t rub me the right way. Then she met Wes (a fellow Keeper), and I thought maybe she would start to live, just a little. But of course a boy just made me even more annoyed.
I liked Wes. In fact he was the only character in the whole book that I truly enjoyed. I just will never understand how a girl can go from hunting down deranged dead people to “blushing” and feeling “flutters”. You’re a big girl! Ask him out if you want, but please stop with the stolen glances. It just doesn’t fit your persona.
Anywho, at the end of the day the writing was great, but this story was just not meant for me. The whole sleeping/waking dead world was really cool, BUT it’s chalked full of info dumps and twist and turns. Which isn’t a bad thing per se, but when you’re already struggling to stay interested, this became annoying.