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 she 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.
The Archived is an exciting and fast paced read that has a creative premise with a lot of potential. I was engrossed in the story rather quickly and I really enjoyed reading it. It was really interesting to learn about the Archive and the jobs in it and how it works. It is a mysterious establishment which helps power the conflict of the book, and not everything is revealed in this book because it is the first in a series. The actual purpose for the keeping of Histories and how they do it is a bit shady, and contributes to the mysterious feel.
The novel is told mostly through the main character Mackenzie in the present, although it often flashes back to events earlier in her life relating her grandfather, Da for exposition about Mac’s life and information about her job and responsibilities. It was a little confusing at the very beginning since a lot is thrown at you regarding the world and the flashbacks but it wasn’t too hard to get if you just go with it. I really enjoyed all the characters and relationships they had in the book. Mackenzie and her parents are all dealing with grief in different ways and it all feels very realistic. It’s easy to feel lots of sympathy for Mackenzie’s family and Mac herself is a very likable protagonist. I also loved the love interest, who was awesome and funny, but the romance was definitely not focused on. Mackenzie’s relationship with Da, her grandfather, and Roland, her kind of mentor/friend/boss, were great too.
The book has a great mysterious, haunting atmosphere and setting and is very well written as well as easy to read. There is lots of tension, and I actually got really worried and stressed out about if Mackenzie was going to be okay at times. My only complaint about the book would be that although the plot moves rather well, it takes a while for the real conflict of the book to be revealed and for us to figure out what the main focus of the book is going to be. It has lots of twists and turns, which is a good thing for me, but I wish the main plot had been more clear earlier on.
Since I liked this so much, I’m really excited to read the sequel sometime to figure out more about the Archive and what’s to happen next (Even though there was a pretty satisfying ending, so don’t worry). I’m also interested in reading Schwab’s other books which I have heard great things about.
Length: 328 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy