Title: The Archived #1
Author: Victoria Schwab
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
January 22, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: ARC from ALA
I have to admit, it wasn't until the second half of the book that The Archived by Victoria Schwab really started clicking together for me. I've heard that some people who read the extended preview online were unsure if they wanted to continue, and I can see why--but something about the writing was really appealing to me and I ended up having a great experience with it.
Here's what I liked about the book:
* Dead people who are kept on shelves like books? Sign me on! Awesome premise.
* I loved the eerie, something's-not-quite-right atmosphere. All this drama happening in the hushed hallways of a library setting somehow felt pretty creepy.
* The narrative voice felt comfortable and real.
* This isn't written in a fast-paced sci-fi thriller kind of way, and I liked the slower pace and somewhat contemplative tone.
* The part of the story involving mysterious murders in an old hotel-turned-apartment-building was intriguing, and the way the clues gradually reveal themselves is enjoyable.
* I really liked some of the characters, especially the stern Roland, an older Librarian who mentors Mackenzie.
Things that were just fine:
* The romantic interests. Yes, there is an "s" at the end of that, but there isn't really a love triangle here, and things are just interesting enough without overtaking the entire plot.
* The villain. Maybe a bit too easy to guess, but not until closer to the end.
Things I felt could use improvement:
* I found the beginning very confusing, in part because I thought "Da" referred to Mackenzie's father, not her grandfather. The timeline also moved back and forth too much for my taste, and the switches in tense itched at me. Also, does her brother's death have some further significance at some point? Between that, her grandfather's death, moving to a new home, etc., there was a lot to take in the opening chapters.
* I was also never entirely sure how I understood how the mechanics of everything works in the Library or the Keepers' exact roles. There were also definitely parts where I thought, "No way!" or "I don't get why this just didn't happen."
But there came a point when the story started coming together and taking off that I just let go of my doubts and just enjoyed the ride. In fact, I think zoomed through the last half in one sitting, it was such a page-turner! The book is well-plotted, well-written, and touched with some darkness, as well as humor. This isn't a typical sci-fi story, and it's all the better for that. I'm tired of wham-bam adventure stories that do little more than connect the dots between one action scene to the next.
This is the first book I've read by this author, but given the many positive reviews I've seen for her debut, I think I need to seek out The Near Witch very soon. And of course, I'll be waiting for the new batch of Archives in the coming year.
This review also appears on GoodReads. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.
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