Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Archived by Victoria Schwab | Book Review

(Not thrilled with the cover.  Even the hubby was questioning this design.  But I guess it kind of fits; keys play a major role in the story and the one character is a ghost of sorts.  We won't hold this against the book, ok?)

It's hard to classify this book, but I think I'd call it a ghost story.  But not a creepy, scare-your-pants-off ghost story.  There's only one bad ghost and lots of scared, confused ghosts.  And Mackenzie's job is to help the scared, confused ghosts find their way back to peaceful slumber.  So it's almost a "nice" ghost story.

Mackenzie is a Keeper.  She inherited the job from her beloved grandfather, and she's currently the youngest Keeper, and her territory is a very busy one.  The Archives are like a library, and there's an Archives in every territory.  The Archives are where Librarians work, maintaining Histories.  Histories are physical records of a person's life.  Histories look very much like bodies, and when they get loose from the Archives, they wander the halls In Between and Keepers are dispatched to return them to the Archives.  Are you still with me?  I might be redundant, but let's go over it one more time (it's a pretty foreign concept):  Librarians work in the Archives, maintaining Histories.  Sometimes Histories get loose in the In Between and Keepers are dispatched to fetch and return them.  Mackenzie is a Keeper.

As if that's not enough action, Mackenzie has quite a lot on her plate out here in the real world.  Her family is devastated after the loss of her 10-year-old brother just one year before, and they've just moved to a new city so that her mom can start a new business.  It's summer now, but soon Mackenzie will start at a new school.  And on top of it all, she has this secret job where she occasionally slips into another dimension to chase down corporeal ghosts.

Mackenzie is one tough cookie!  I really admire her strength, both emotionally and physically.  She definitely kicks ass.  So I feel super bad that she has all this weighty tough stuff happen to her at such a young age.  A side effect of her Keeper job is that she can hear emotions when she touches someone, and since the death of her brother it's become nearly impossible for her to bear touching either of her parents.  And she's also still struggling with losing her grandfather.  And now she's all alone in a new city.  My heart just breaks for her.

So I was really excited when she meets Wes.  It's hard to hold back here and not give you spoilers, but meeting Wes is definitely a high point for Mackenzie, even if she doesn't know it at first.  You don't even know how badly I want to tell you what happens!

So I really liked this book.  I liked how tough Mackenzie is.  I loved loved loved what happened with Wes.  I love the setting (Mackenzie and her folks move into a really really old hotel that's been converted into apartments).  I love the ending.

The only thing I didn't care for was that I figured out way ahead of Mackenzie when something was NOT a good idea.  There were two times when Mackenzie went through with decisions that were not going to end well.  But that might be because I'm a grown up (or supposed to be) and she's a teen.  Maybe when I was a teen I would have done the same thing.  So definitely not judging Victoria Schwab or the character for those mistakes.

Overall, a good book that I'll definitely try to hand to some teens.

(This picture will make sense after you read the book.  Go read the book, then you'll get this:  People + Ghost does NOT equal love forever.  Something must go wrong.)

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