I do know how to explain myself. Do know what THE ARCHIVED was, for me, as a novel.
I just don't know if you're going to understand me when I say THE ARCHIVED was like wood. And stone. And light.
The characters in this novel reminded me of wood. Beautiful. Organic. But cracked--- cracked all over. Cracked on the surface and those cracks running deeper and deeper beneath. We got to stay near the surface, near the beautiful sides of most of them where those cracks just looked like decoration--- like artistic nuance, if you will. But then Mackenzie would touch someone or be touched by someone and we were falling deeper and deeper between the cracks of each person, peeling the layers of facade away little by little. This is probably both my favorite and least favorite thing about THE ARCHIVED. It's almost like a signature Victoria Schwab has this brilliant and frustrating way of creating things so organically you are slowly, slowly peeling away these layers, holding your breath for the next discovery, and then feeling EVERYTHING once you get there because it hurts to see the ugliness. Because it's supposed to.
But then there's the stone. The things that keeps you grounded and make you wait and help you to forgive Schwab for teasing, teasing, teasing, and breaking your heart all the while in between. The worlds she creates. The mysteries. The stories. The people. Those solid odds and ends that feel so real you wonder if you could go there, feel that, makes you question whether or not you'd heard about The Narrows and Da and The Coronado somewhere else. They make you wonder why you haven't. It's so strange these solid things.
These beautiful itty bitty things, most of which are tiny things feel. so. real. Like Bishop's Cafe and The Coronado and The Narrows. The Archived. And you feel like you've been there. Seen that. Met Da, heard his stories, known Lindsey, seen a ripple in the air that wasn't quite right and knew there had to be--- had to be--- something more there. I could see The Archive existing, the plot thickening. The mystery unfolding. Those lives happening. And I wasn't so flustered by the cracks because I had this to hold onto. When Mac was fighting, I didn't have to think about Ben. When the adorable Nix came onto the scene or when Roland showed her around the Atrium or when Wes sat by her in the garden I could forget about the horrible things happening all around, crumbling, threatening to tear those bits of happiness away. I could just admire the world. The creativity that went into this place, these characters, this story. And then, when I had to face the cracks again, I appreciated them even more. Because they were real and they hurt and they were supposed to and that was okay.
That was okay. Feeling, hurting, becoming impatient, wanting, needing--- it was all okay. THE ARCHIVED was about Mackenzie's journey but maybe I had one, too. And that's why this novel was also light. It showed me things. It reflected some of my own thoughts.
Despite what the description says, this novel was about love. Love between families, friends. Love of past, love of present. It's about life and death and how to live in spite of tragedy. It's about light and truth and how important it is to SPEAK. To say what's on your heart. To say that you feel. And you heart, and want, and need. I don't know if you'll understand what I'm saying here. I don't care if you do or don't. In words that are actually comprehensible, I encourage you to try this novel for yourself. Tell me what you think of THE ARCHIVED. Tell me if you felt it breathing, if you can't wait for the sequel, if you sense the wood, the stone, the light as well.
If you just can't get enough of my ramblings here is something else. Click here to go to my personal blog where I give more thoughts on THE ARCHIVED from the perspective of a Literature Student who's about to take a final on Authorship. Ug.
Blurb from Victoria Schwab's Website:
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.
Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often-violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.
Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.
In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.
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