Title: The Archived
Author: Victoria Schwab
Release Date: January 22, 2013
Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books. Every body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures the only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and they reside in a vast realm called the Archive. Mackenzie's grandfather first brought her to the Archive when she was 12 and determined to prove herself. Now, Da is gone, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often violent Histories from getting out. Because of her job, she lies to people, and she knows fear for what it is: a tool used for staying alive. But being a Keeper reminds her of who she's lost. Not only is Da gone, but her brother Ben has died as well, and Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between the living and the dead. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed, yet someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential memories. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.
The Archived is haunting and heart-breaking, a complex and expertly crafted tale of truth and lies, the living and the dead. A mysterious magic weaves a path through this book, a magic as elusive as mist, as powerful as love. In the Archive there are secrets, and there are whispers, and there must be courage and strength in order to survive.
Narrators like Mackenzie are what make novels such as this always complicated and never easy. As a Keeper, she's tough, she knows certain truths, and she's seen enough to make her appear old beyond her years, but she's sad. She's so sad, and she's so lost, and she struggles to cope and keep up with the lies, to keep the mask on her face. She's very much a hunter, a hunter of Histories, of the truth, of remembering the good times. She has the instincts, but not being able to move away from her grief holds her back.
The idea of the Archive drew me in so because it's a question we as human beings ofter ask ourselves: what happens to us after we die? Our bodies are taken away, yes, but does anything else happen? Is there a record of our lives? Is there such a thing as a spirit or soul? And if there is life (such as it could be) after death, where are we kept? Are we kept under control? Who makes the rules?
There is a special connection between truth and lies, where the line is blurred and both are the same yet different. The lies we keep to hide the truth, the lies we tell to keep those we love safe, the lies we tell ourselves when we pretend everything is okay. The truths we hide. Mac must face this, face all of it, to survive. She must discover what is causing the Archive to crumble, or she won't make it back through the passage alive.
It's quite possible that this book is all about family. Both Mac and her parents are struggling and failing to continue their lives without her brother Ben, and Mac often thinks back to memories of her grandfather when he was alive and appeared invincible. Family provides so much, the unconditional love and support, the connections they make with us, the way they tug at our hearts when they laugh or cry or even just smile. Anything and everything is for family.
This book is about a girl searching for the truth when lies fill her life. This book is the unveiling of a mystery, the exposure of a twisted map of truths, secrets, and lies. This book is the unflinching love of family and the unwavering desire to keep them close. This book is rich with complications, rife with danger, but in no way did I ever want to avoid it. If anything, it only made me want to step through that doorway, golden key in the lock, even more.
(I received a finished copy to review from Hachette Book Group Canada.)