The Archived by VE Schwab – Spoiler Free Review

Welcome back to a new post about Books about Books! Okay, this book isn’t technically about books, but it does involve a massive library/archive of sorts.

Like Sorcery of Thorns, I’ve had the Archived on my shelves for a while. It was kind of a short book, and like all VE Schwab books, I sped through it super fast.

First, here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

The Archived cover image

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.

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.

What I liked

The one thing I always love about Schwab’s books is that every story she tells is unique. It’s like every time they’re written by a different author. The Archived is no exception. The world is super interesting. When people die, a copy of their life is made and stored in the Archive. It took me a minute to truly understand how the Archive works, but after I did I had no issues imagining what it looked like.

I thought the book had kind of a slow start, but eventually the plot picked up super fast. Every chapter kept me on my toes and I really had to know what would happen next. The best part was, I couldn’t even begin to guess the ending. Normally I try to guess all the plot twists, and I’m often correct. Not this time, though. Nope.

What I liked less

I thought the book was very slow to pick up the plot. It was interesting enough to keep me reading, but there wasn’t really any story until like 70 pages in or so. Most of the characters also fell a little flat for me. I’m pretty sure the main character, Mackenzie, is never physically described. This isn’t necessarily bad, because you can imagine her however you want. But it is very unusual. There also isn’t much of a character arc in this book.

In all, while I thought The Archived was really good once the story picked up, the characters didn’t necessarily do it for me. Of course I am going to read the sequel, The Unbound, so we’ll see what I have to say about this series then!

Final Rating: 3.75★

Have you read this book yet? What did you think about it?

You can find my previous Books about Books reviews here!

Cover image by Jesse Orrico via Unsplash

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