Book Review: The Archived (The Archived, #1) by Victoria Schwab

The archivedTitle: The Archived

Author: Victoria Schwab

Summary: 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. -Goodreads


**Warning: Spoilers!**

Literally minutes after I finished The Darkest Minds, I jumped into the world of The Archived, a book which many have loved.  I was pretty excited, due to all the hype.  Now, did it live up to the hype?  Between the great reviews for this book and actually reading it, I don’t think it lived up to the hype.  I feel like I’m in the minority when I say that, but… that’s just how I feel about it.

I remember being at the bookstore to purchase The Archived, which I got in January of 2014, I believe.  Anywho, I could only get one book, and I’d narrowed it down to The Archived and Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, another rather popular book.  I was having such a hard time with my decision.  I’d read the backs of both books several times before settling on The Archived.

“What made you choose The Archived?” you ask?  Well, during the time of this purchase, I’d given a lot of thought to the idea of what it would be like to walk in another person’s shoes and see what their life was like.  Now, the catchphrase on the book is, “every body has a story.”  Naturally, this piqued my interest and got me thinking about looking into other people’s lives.  So I got it!

I thought that maybe in this book, we’d get to see the Histories’ lives, and see what happened to them during their time of life.  Mmm… not really.  In fact, no one except the Librarians were allowed to read Histories.

The beginning of the book was slightly confusing to me, and I was really afraid I wouldn’t like The Archived as much as others did.  And as I read I really, really tried to love this book, but there were certain things that I couldn’t get around.  I did enjoy the flashbacks Mackenzie was having to the time when Da was still around.  In the beginning, I’d thought that Da was her father, which is why I was so confused when, after the first flashback, she had a mom and a dad.  It wasn’t really spelled out of us that Da was her grandfather, but I’d begun to assume that after a short while.  That fact was only confirmed in that flashback to when Mackenzie was first becoming a Keeper, but the Librarians were telling Da that she was too young.  We then learned that Da was Mackenzie’s father’s father.  Gotcha.

I wasn’t really sure I liked the characters.  They seemed pretty flat when I read them.  I wish Mackenzie had been more exciting, but all she was doing really was chucking dead people through doors when they escaped.  I felt like she had no personality.  I did end up liking her more toward the end, when things started to get good.

One of my main problems was with the characters.  I felt like I couldn’t connect with them, or trust any of them.  I didn’t even trust our main protagonist.  I definitely didn’t trust Wesley, even though he was a Keeper, too.  I definitely didn’t trust Ms. Angelli, but nothing really went anywhere with her.  The author seemed to insinuate that there was something wacky going on with that lady, so maybe that’s explored more in Unbound, the second book in this series.

I didn’t even trust Roland or Patrick, as they both made me really uneasy.

Not much in the feels department, either, though I did have some giggly fangirl moments when Mackenzie and Owen kissed.  OOH!  And that part where Mackenzie was pulling the shard of glass out of Wesley’s back.  Yup.  But despite this, I wasn’t too big on the romance in this book.  It seemed kind of repetitive.

Owen was a mystery.  Who was he?  At first, I thought he was the person who’d killed Regina.  I hit the mark pretty close with that assumption.  He was linked to Regina, but he was her brother, not the person to kill her.  He had, however, killed many others.  But, still, who was he? I thought.  Well, obviously he was Mackenzie’s make-out buddy.  Until that went downhill and he revealed his true intentions.  I was like, “OMG, HE PRINCE HANS’D HER!!!”  Think about it (if you’ve seen Frozen).

Now let that sink in…

I’d never expected Carmen to be in league with Owen.  Then again, I should have.  It’s always the quiet ones…

*looks around awkwardly* I’m a quiet one…

The Narrows seemed very Department of Mysteries-esque, no?  And that paper!  The one Mackenzie used to see what Histories she needed to return?  SO COOL.  It’s like in the Chamber of Secrets, when Harry was talking to Tom Riddle’s sixteen-year-old self through the diary.  AWESOME.

Alhough The Archived isn’t my absolute favorite book, I did have several favorite lines.  And I spent many late nights till 2:30 a.m. reading this book, so maybe I enjoyed it more than I understand.

Favorite Lines:

“Miss Bishop,” Patrick says tersely.  The room is quiet except for my heavy breathing.  “You’re bleeding on my floor.”


“Restrictions exist for a reason, Miss Bishop.  There are no visiting hours.  Keepers do not attend to the Histories here.  You are not to enter the stacks without a good reason.  Are we clear?”

“Of course.”

“Does that mean you will cease this futile and rather tiresome pursuit?”

“Of course not.”


“You know,” he says, “for someone who doesn’t like touching people, you keep finding ways to put your hands on me.”


“Curiosity is a gateway drug to sympathy.  Sympathy leads to hesitation.  Hesitation will get you killed.”

You know how in Divergent, Four told Tris that fear woke her up?  Well, Mackenzie thinks along the same lines: “Fear keeps you alive.” 

“You mean to tell me that if I lose my job, I lose my life?”

He won’t look at me.  “Any memories pertaining to the Archive and any work done on its behalf—”

“That is my life, Roland.  Why wasn’t I told?”  My voice gets louder, echoing in the stairs, and Roland’s eyes narrow. 

“Would it have changed your mind?” he asks quietly. 

I hesitate.  “No.”

That also reminded me of Divergent.  Maybe I just have Divergent on the brain…

“Imagine living like a king someday
A single night without a ghost in the walls
.~Pierce the Veil, feat. Kellin Quinn, “King For a Day”

That quote is from a song, and it reminded me of Mackenzie.  She was always talking about her “normal” alter ego, M, who did normal teenager-y stuff and didn’t have to be a Keeper.

Toward the end, my brain was confused about how to rate this book.  The bids started at three stars.  During the climactic scenes, I even pushed for four stars and contemplated five, but it didn’t feel right.

Now that I’ve completed the book, I’m settling on 3.5/5 stars.  This was an enjoyable read, regardless, though I did have problems with the book.  Not all books are for everyone, so maybe this just wasn’t the book for me.  I like how Victoria Schwab tied everything off in the end, though there are still a few loose ends that I assume are explored in Unbound.  Perhaps, if I see it at the library, I’ll pick it up.


13 thoughts on “Book Review: The Archived (The Archived, #1) by Victoria Schwab

      1. I hope you like it. I’ll finish the series out for sure. Ps. You blew my mind with the Harry Potter correlations. Never even thought of that!!! Good thinking.


  1. Same here. I read and reviewed this .not too long ago, and felt similar to you. Personally, I felt it focused too much on the romance, which I barely believed and could have done with better exploration of the Archieve itself


      1. And chaos was apparently happening in there, with entire areas of it having to be closed off and it just felt brushed aside…


  2. I felt the same way you did about the beginning. It was a bit confusing, and I kept going back to see if I had missed something. I also never like when there is a lot of hype for a book I haven’t read yet. I feel like I need to feel a certain way, and if I don’t, I feel let down. I did end up enjoying this book though, so that’s a plus. Owen was quite a mystery. I wish he had more details about him. Villains can be so fun if they are explained well, haha.


    1. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one! I thought that maybe I hadn’t been paying close attention to the beginning and that’s why I’d thought it was confusing.

      Sometimes I like hype, sometimes I don’t. If I’m reading a brand new release, I LOVE hype, because no one has actually read the book—they’re just plain old excited. But if it’s a book that many have read and praised, I tend to shy away from that book for a while before I finally buck up and read it.


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