Series: The Archived #2
Published by Hyperion on January 28th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Ghosts, Paranormal, Young Adult
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.
Last summer, Mackenzie Bishop, a Keeper tasked with stopping violent Histories from escaping the Archive, almost lost her life to one. Now, as she starts her junior year at Hyde School, she's struggling to get her life back. But moving on isn't easy -- not when her dreams are haunted by what happened. She knows the past is past, knows it cannot hurt her, but it feels so real, and when her nightmares begin to creep into her waking hours, she starts to wonder if she's really safe.
Meanwhile, people are vanishing without a trace, and the only thing they seem to have in common is Mackenzie. She's sure the Archive knows more than they are letting on, but before she can prove it, she becomes the prime suspect. And unless Mac can track down the real culprit, she'll lose everything, not only her role as Keeper, but her memories, and even her life. Can Mackenzie untangle the mystery before she herself unravels?
With stunning prose and a captivating mixture of action, romance, and horror, The Unbound delves into a richly imagined world where no choice is easy and love and loss feel like two sides of the same coin.
I loved The Archived when I first read it back in May, but then I put off buying The Unbound for forever – for some reason. LUCKILY, Gillian is a very very lovely bookish friend, and her giving this to me finally gave me the push I needed to read this most excellent sequel. All I can say is, “DEBBY, WHY THE HELL DID YOU WAIT SO LONG, YOU DOOFUS?!?!??!”
From page 1, I was instantly smitten with how lovely every aspect of this series is. But let’s be honest, at the top of the list has to be THAT FREAKING SHIP. Wesley and Mac are the absolute best. They filled me with feels from start to finish. Much of the book was spent with an ear-to-ear grin on my face because they are just so adorable. They still have that immaculate banter, as they did in the first book, but now there’s even more genuine feeling beneath it. Wesley’s pretty open and clear about that – and he’s just the best. He does everything he can for Mac because he loves her so much. “Leave the window open.” DON’T EVEN. The comfort that his noise brings is… asdfjkl;… can I has a Wesley plz? Mac is more hesitant because she doesn’t want to complicate their working relationship and she doesn’t want to put him in danger. But basically that just means FEELS. FEELINGS EXPLODING EVERYWHERE.
Aside from that, the plot is even more intriguing and creepy than the first one, and it’s paced perfectly. It gives you just enough reminders about what happened in the first book – but like its predecessor, it has its own clear story arc that is neatly wrapped up in this installment. Yes, there is room for more (and goddamn am I glad that it’s coming) but what we got was so intriguing and exciting. The plot is infinitely darker as Mac has nightmares and can’t bear to fall asleep. Her exhaustion – or possibly something more nefarious – even causes her to black out and lose time. She starts to doubt herself, doubt what is real and what isn’t, and doubt the Archive. It was a page turner for sure. I couldn’t put this book down for a second. My biggest critique of the first book was that with all the Doctor Who elements, it didn’t seem original enough, but The Unbound sure as hell fixed that.
The plot also made Mac’s character so much more interesting. I couldn’t remember much about her from The Archived, but in The Unbound, her story is so deeply emotional that I really felt a strong connection to her. I was scared with her and for her and I fell for Wesley along with her too. Her bond with her parents is also tested in this one as she struggles with how her role as Keeper requires her to keep all these secrets and to oftentimes disobey them. It was a realistic portrayal of what this would do to a family. Her mother feels the need to be strict and she’s somewhat overprotective, but more than anything all of that comes from a place of love. Parenting is hard, and I could only sympathize. Mac knows that she’s giving them a hard time, but she can’t really help it either. MORE FEELINGS.
Finally, the writing and pacing make this a book you really don’t want to put down. Seriously, Victoria Schwab writes magic. I didn’t even remember having that kind of reaction to the first one, but her style just sucks me in. It was the first time in ages where I absolutely didn’t want to stop reading. I just wanted to build a fort for me and this book (and possibly V. Schwab’s other novels as well) and stay there forever. She really made Mac’s voice so endearing, built such an incredi-creepy world, and knew when to bring the action. The fight scenes were SO thrilling and vivid that my heart was jumping all over the place. I mean, this settles it: I’m buying all of Victoria Schwab’s books. Done.