I really loved the premise of The Archived, and I thought the book was well written. There were some genuine feels throughout most of it. And yet, I found myself left feeling rather “meh” about everything. I had a problem connecting to it. But, if I really think about it, I don’t think it’s the book’s fault, I think this is a case of “just not for me.” Which is super disappointing, given how much I’ve loved Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic series. BUT! I didn’t feel meh enough about this that I’m not going to read more. Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I really want to love this book. Ooh! I think I know what my issue is. Like Every Heart a Doorway, this felt much more like the beginning to a series than it did a standalone novel (uh, duh, cause it is, dum dum), so maybe my meh feelings are just because it feels unfinished?
I don’t know, this review turned way more psychologic-y than I meant it to. Story of my life.
Anyway. The facts are these:
Mackenzie Bishop is a Keeper, having inherited the job from her grandfather, who she called Da. Keepers patrol The Narrows for Histories that escape from The Archive. Histories are dead people, basically, but also not really. A History contains everything about a person’s life, but it is not the person. Just go with it. Histories are kept in The Archive and read and catalogued by Librarians. If a History were to wake, they escape into The Narrows and have to be returned before escaping into the living world. Otherwise super bad things happen, trust me on this.
Obviously, being a Keeper is a big job for a 16-year-old, and Mackenzie started even younger than most Keepers are allowed to. Complicating this is the fact that her Da died before being able to completely finish her training. Not only that, but her little brother, Ben, has also recently died, and knowing that he’s being kept in The Archive is too tempting for Mackenzie, who invents reasons to visit so she can talk her Librarian friends into letting her see his shelf.
Mackenzie and her family have recently moved into an apartment complex called The Coronado, a former hotel that has a rich history. Mackenzie finds herself busier than normal, returning lost Histories to the Archived, which could be explained by the fact that The Coronado has been around for so long, but she’s not convinced. She soon meets a friend named Wes, who has secrets of his own, and Mackenzie’s intrigued. Because this is a YA book, there has to be the hint of romance, but I appreciated that Mackenzie realizes that A) she has a job, first and foremost, so she doesn’t really have time for romance, also B) her brother just died and she’s in a super fucked up place. She’s got a good head on her shoulders, despite everything she’s got going on.
I just talked myself into liking this more than I thought I had when I finished it. I’ll definitely read more. And so should you, probably.
*I also think that part of the problem was that I loved the Darker Shade of Magic series so much that this was bound to be a bit of a letdown. The fact that it’s still so enjoyable is a good sign, though. It’s more of a 3.5 than a 3, to be honest.