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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
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Review: The Archived

The Archived by Victoria Schwab. Hyperion Books, Disney Press. 2013. Reviewed from ARC.

archived Review: The Archived

The Plot: Mackenzie, sixteen, is a “Keeper” like her grandfather before her. She’s been taught by him how to hunt down Histories (the dead) that have escaped from the Archive  (run by Librarians) before they enter the Outer, our world.

Histories are not the actual people who have died, but they do hold their memories and knowledge. When they wake in the Archive, they are often confused and that can lead to violence. It’s Mac’s job to make sure that they don’t enter our world, where they can cause real harm.

Things have gotten complicated.

Her brother died, and Mac is haunted by the idea of him being in the Archive. She knows it’s not really him, but still — to know his memories are there. To know she can look at his face one more time. But, of course, she can’t. Only Librarians can do that, not a Hunter. It doesn’t stop her from wanting.

In the aftermath of her brother’s death, her family has moved to an apartment building in a new town. At first, Mac thinks that the increase in escaped Histories is because the apartment building has a rich, old history. Instead, she finds out the building’s history has been tampered with. The ever-increasing number of escaped Histories isn’t normal.

Mac is going to break a few rules to find out what is really going on with the Archive, the Histories, and the Librarians.

The Good: Mac has to balance multiple roles and worlds. To the outsider, she’s a typical teen girl. She has this secret life that no one knows about or suspects, including her own family. Being a Hunter, being part of the world of the Archive, is a secret to be held and shared only with others with the potential to enter this strange world. For Mac, that was her grandfather.

At the apartment building the Coronado, Mac encounters two young men: Wesley, a teenaged Hunter; and Owen, someone a bit more mysterious. Mac’s life has been rather close up till now. While she has a best friend, in her old home town, having to live a life that involves training and disappearing at odd moments to hunt Histories has left her a bit isolated from other teens. Even in the world of the Archive, the only people she has met are the Librarians, who are usually a bit stand-offish and business as usual. Meeting Wesley, and Owen, two people who know her secrets, is the first time she’s really had peers who understand what she does.

And yes, there is a bit of a triangle there. And it’s a creepy triangle.

Mac is one of those characters I kept wanting to talk some sense into, because she did some stuff that made me scream ARGH. But her choices made perfect sense for her: Mac is a character who is grieving, deeply, and her grandfather has trained her to be more about action than self-reflection. She is, also, lonely, and doesn’t realize it. Or, rather, doesn’t realize how that influences her decisions. Plus, there’s the whole emotional hurricane of dealing with the Histories, who think they are real but aren’t. While Mac’s action mode can help, as when Mac has to figure out what is going on with the Library that so many more Histories are escaping and what it has to do with her new home, sometimes it hurts. As when it doesn’t really allow her to feel the loss of her brother, or, for that matter, her grandfather.

What else? I like that part of action-Mac is doing research into her apartment building’s history, both by looking for documents and records but also by talking to other residents. I like the relationship that develops with Wes. I like her relationship with her parents, and how that has been affected by her secret life. And the world building! I want to know even more about the Archive and the people who work there.

Other reviews: Disquietus; Sarcasm and Lemons; The Book Smugglers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Good: al;dskj;l

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About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is lizzy.burns@gmail.com.

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