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Cybils Book Review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

I am reviewing this book as part of the Cybils 2013

Let’s get right to the point: I LOVED this book.  It was a unique concept, delivered beautifully.  And it plucked every I miss Buffy heart-string I own, which is a lot.

“Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a stroy to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read.  The dead are called Histories, and the vast ream in which they rest is the Archive.” – Book Jacket Copy

Mackenzie Bishop has always wanted to be a Keeper, like her beloved Da.  So when he passes on, he chooses her as his successor.  Her job is dangerous, to track down lost Histories in the Narrows (the space between the Archive and our world) before they make it across.  Losing Da was hard enough, but when her younger brother is plucked too young from this world, Mac’s family can’t cope.  Hoping a change of scenery will help them forget, Mac’s family moves into a hotel.  A hotel with secrets and memories and Histories that want out into the real world.

The Archived is a beautiful exploration of what it means to be both living and dead, and how we can sometimes be in both places at once.  It is a haunting, melancholy read that drips with grief and ripples with the promise of magic.  It is a gentle reminder that even though it is hard, we must find a way to let go and move on because holding on can break the things around – and inside – of you: family, friendships, and yes – even your spirit or your mind.

Mac is a magnificently complex character; lost, aching, hiding secrets, striving to be strong and fierce.  Her grief was real and palpable, her temptation to take her brother’s History from the archive understandable, and her fierceness in the face of all of what she was going through heartbreaking and at times inspiring.

There are flashback scenes that help us understand the role of the Keeper and paint a rich portrait of a truly moving relationship between a young girl and her grandfather.  I always give bonus points for strong, healthy multi-generational relationships. 

There is action, suspense, mystery, a little bit of romance potential . . . definitely recommended.  And, obviously, it takes its rightful place among my ongoing YA Lit for Buffy Fans list 1 and list 2.

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