Book Features · Book Reviews

Reading The Archived for the first time

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Before July 2020, I’d never read The Archived before. (I know.) It’s Victoria Schwab’s second novel and one of the last few I need to read before I’ve read all of her publised works.

So, when Alison and I planned Schwab Readalong, we decided to make it the first book we read.

The main reason for the readalong was to celebrate Victoria Schwab’s books on the run up to the release of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, so we thought a good way to do that would be to read one of her books that neither of us had read before.

So on the first of July, I picked up my copy of The Archived and read the first few chapters.

This book has trigger warnings for violence and the death of a sibling (off-page).

The slow-paced start had me worried that I wasn’t going to like the story as much as I wanted to. But I ended up loving it.

The story follows Mackenzie ‘Mac’ Bishop, a Keeper at the Archive, as she moves to a new apartment with her family and tries to discover why so many histories keep waking up.

The idea that people become ‘histories’ when they die…seems so simple, but so intriguing.

I loved the concept for this book from the moment I first heard about it. The idea that people become ‘histories’ when they die and the Archive is a library of the dead, guarded by librarians, seems so simple, but so intriguing.

It was such a good feeling when the concept that I’d had such high hopes for came to life on the page in an exciting, atmospheric way.

It certainly didn’t disappoint.

I can understand why Victoria took her time to set up the world-building at the beginning of the novel. Yes, it slowed down the pacing, but was it worth it once everything was established and the action kicked off? Absolutely.

Mackenzie is independent and self-reliant, but struggling with grief after a bereavement.

After a few chapters, I put the book down and picked it up again the next day. In the first quarter of the novel, we start to get a sense of the main characters. Mackenzie is independent and self-reliant, but struggling with grief after a bereavement.

I liked her character, but Wesley was definitely my favourite. His sense of humour and ability to be sarcastic, charming, and vulnerable all within the space of a few lines of dialogue really made me develop a soft spot for him.

The story definitely has a slow start. This is a book you need to persevere with because the plot doesn’t really kick into gear until page 80.

There was even a moment, on about page 20, where I was worried that I wasn’t actually going to like this book. Which is a disconcerting feeling when it’s a novel by one of your favourite authors.

But thankfully, I didn’t need to worry. The plot really picks up after the first 80 pages and by the halfway point, it’s flying.

One evening, I sat down and read 150 pages in a single sitting, because I couldn’t put it down. This is rare for me, but the pacing and plot were electric by the 200 page mark and I just kept going without realising how many pages I’d read.

The twists and unexpected betrayals were fantastically written and I couldn’t work out who the real villain was until a few paragraphs before it was revealed. There are also surprising murder mystery elements that I wasn’t expecting but really enjoyed.

The fight scenes were written like choreographed sequences, neat, and fast with a certain elegance mixed into the frenetic movements. They reminded me of the fight scenes in Vicious because I read that novel first.

It’s clear to how Victoria has developed and honed her style of writing fight sequences into something razor sharp from The Archived to Vicious to Vengeful.

I really enjoyed the discussions of intention and motivations; how you can do something good with bad intentions and something bad with good intentions.

A lot of the themes in this novel also give early hints of other themes that will go on to be explored in Vicious (light and dark, truth and lies, life and death). I really enjoyed the discussions of intention and motivations; how you can do something good with bad intentions and something bad with good intentions.

The best parts of this novel definitely come in the last few chapters when all the threads of the plot come together to create drama, action, and an jaw-dropping conclusion. (Well, my jaw dropped anyway.) Nothing could have made me put the book down until I’d finished reading, it was that intense.

I rated it 4 out of 5 stars and would definitely recommend it if you like dark, mysterious, atmospheric books.

Despite a slow start, this book ended up being everything I’d hoped for. I had a great time reading it for Schwab Readalong and it was really fun to check in with Alison and chat about the scenes that shocked us and the moments we loved.

Overall this was a fun, memorable reading experience and I’m so glad I can finally tick The Archived off my TBR. I rated it 4 out of 5 stars and would definitely recommend it if you like dark, mysterious, atmospheric books.


Have you read The Archived? Which books have you had great reading experienced with recently?

End-of-post graphic, reading 'until next time, Kate'.

5 thoughts on “Reading The Archived for the first time

  1. Such a great review! I have only read her middle grade books. I do plan to pick up The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. This one sounds really interesting. I am down to try it just worried about the slow start. I think knowing that after 80 pages it gets a lot more fast paced will help me to push through!

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