The Archived Review

Monday, July 07, 2014

I told you I was back and I'm back with a vengeance to read more than I have ever read before. Well, I mean as much as I can because I don't want to get a book hangover and become stalled. I have finished another amazing novel, The Archived by Victoria Schwab, and if you have been hesitant about picking this up or haven't yet, I highly recommend you do!

If you haven't noticed by now, I'm a huge fantasy/supernatural junkie. I love books that transport me to other worlds, ones that somehow overlap with the one we live in or ones that are completely new on their own. The Archived does the first- it reminds me of a Venn Diagram, where on one side you have our "normal" day-to-day kind of world and on the other you have the realm of the Archive. In the middle there are the commonalities between the two, death, and whatever may come with that. Schwab takes a really distinct concept on the afterlife and how it functions; basically there is a realm (^ The Archive) and in it the dead are "categorized" in a sort-of intricate, and vast library. Those who have passed are referred to as Histories and are seen more as a file representation of someone; I thought of it as a file cabinet that you open and see the tabs sticking out, with each one being a person and having a name. Every person that dies, to put it bluntly, passes on to this "filing system" where their entire life existence is kept (their memories) and a ghostly persona that looks as thought they exist within this other body, but in reality is nothing to what the person was like when they were flesh and bone.

This is where the main female protagonist comes in, Mackenzie Bishop, who we found out is a Keeper. She is among the rare and secretive guardians of the Archive who return the Histories if they are disturbed and "jump" out of their files. She holds the power and ability to return them back to that state of rest and keep them from causing trouble in that realm and the Outer world, meaning our ordinary life. Having been taught from a young age by her grandfather, Mackenzie is highly trained when it comes to Histories. Not only that but she's extremely passionate and dedicated to this life mission that has not only been entrusted to her, but chosen by her, going to whatever costs to keep her secret from her family and friends but also protecting her world and the Archive from Histories gone astray.

Now, I had no idea what I was really getting myself into (once again) when I started this book. I actually had a bit of a difficult time in the beginning because there is a shift between the present and the past, the past still being narrated by Mackenzie but tied in dialogue with her grandfather. Also, there is a lot that Schwab wants you to understand before you really get into the book- or at least that's what I picked up on. You really get a vast amount of details on the other magical world that exists full of eerie ghostly creatures looking for comfort and peace. There is a delicate system that Schwab creates in the Archive and you really need to get a sense of what that is and how it connects with Mackenzie to get a good feel for everything. So, although it was a bit tedious for me in the beginning I'm glad I got through it!

It's interesting that in the Acknowledgments Schwab mentions Neil Gaiman and thanking him because I completely saw some sort of resemblance between The Archived and The Ocean at the End of the Lane, or I guess more so in their writing styles and the supernatural worlds they create. As I finished reading the novel I kept asking myself questions about life, death and that childhood innocence that we all somehow lose or try to grasp on to as we grow up. I also appreciated that Mackenzie's character was not only physically strong and could hold her own, but that she had a sense of sadness and grief to her; something that is so real and concurring in many people's lives. It made me think that sadness is not really something to work through, but sometimes something that you carry with and gradually release over time, until the weight is not as strong and the pull not as tight.

Hopefully I can start the second novel soon, but I might have to hold off on it for a bit because I'm in the mood for a lighter read, perhaps contemporary? I really hope there's more of Wes and Mackenzie in the second novel though, for those of you have read it ;) Happy reading!

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