Wendy Darling's Reviews > The Archived

The Archived by Victoria Schwab
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I have to admit, it wasn't until the second half of the book that The Archived really started clicking together for me. I've heard that some people who read the extended preview online were unsure if they wanted to continue, and I can see why--but something about the writing was really appealing to me and I ended up having a great experience with it.

Here's what I liked about the book:

* Dead people who are kept on shelves like books? Sign me on! Awesome premise.
* I loved the eerie, something's-not-quite-right atmosphere. All this drama happening in the hushed hallways of a library setting somehow felt pretty creepy.
* The narrative voice felt comfortable and real.
* This isn't written in a fast-paced sci-fi thriller kind of way, and I liked the slower pace and somewhat contemplative tone.
* The part of the story involving mysterious murders in an old hotel-turned-apartment-building was intriguing, and the way the clues gradually reveal themselves is enjoyable.
* I really liked some of the characters, especially the stern Roland, an older Librarian who mentors Mackenzie.

Things that were just fine:

* The romantic interests. Yes, there is an "s" at the end of that, but there isn't really a love triangle here, and things are just interesting enough without overtaking the entire plot.
* The villain. Maybe a bit too easy to guess, but not until closer to the end.

Things I felt could use improvement:

* I found the beginning very confusing, in part because I thought "Da" referred to Mackenzie's father, not her grandfather. The timeline also moved back and forth too much for my taste, and the switches in tense itched at me. Also, does her brother's death have some further significance at some point? Between that, her grandfather's death, moving to a new home, etc., there was a lot to take in the opening chapters.

* I was also never entirely sure how I understood how the mechanics of everything works in the Library or the Keepers' exact roles. There were also definitely parts where I thought, "No way!" or "I don't get why this just didn't happen."

But there came a point when the story started coming together and taking off that I just let go of my doubts and just enjoyed the ride. In fact, I think zoomed through the last half in one sitting, it was such a page-turner! The book is well-plotted, well-written, and touched with some darkness, as well as humor. This isn't a typical sci-fi story, and it's all the better for that. I'm tired of wham-bam adventure stories that do little more than connect the dots between one action scene to the next.

This is the first book I've read by this author, but given the many positive reviews I've seen for her debut, I think I need to seek out The Near Witch very soon. And of course, I'll be waiting for the new batch of Archives in the coming year.

This review also appears in The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.

You can also win an ARC of The Archived on the blog!
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Reading Progress

11/26/2012 page 190
56.0% ""Sir, I'm not here to kiss you." <--- Heh." 5 comments

Comments (showing 1-50 of 64) (64 new)


Book Whales Omigosh! been wanting to read this book. Hope it's good. Happy reading


Wendy Darling I've only read a couple of chapters, but I'm already liking it! And thank you. :)


message 3: by Amie (new) - added it

Amie Kaufman Oh, want! Looking forward to hearing what you think!


Wendy Darling I like the writing and the story quite a bit! But I admit to a great deal of confusion as well. And I can't tell whether it's me, hah.


message 5: by Shambhawi (new)

Shambhawi P. I've been wanting to read this book for so long.. your non-review made me mre confused haha


message 6: by Rose (new) - added it

Rose Ah, I'm looking forward to your full review on this, Wendy. It's one of the books I've been looking forward to reading.


message 7: by oliviasbooks (new)

oliviasbooks That's good, Wendy. I had been a bit disaopointed by the Sneak Preview chapters.


Wendy Darling I really liked the story and the writing, ladies, but I found the first half (about 50 pages beyond the 100 pages I think that Netgalley was offering as a sneak preview) was confusing and could have used some restructuring. But I'm happy to say that once all the set-up is done, it flows much better, and it becomes a very unusual and thoughtful story.


Danielle (Love at First Page) Looking forward to reading this! Am wondering - is there a love triangle? :3


Wendy Darling It's very good, Danielle!

And...sort of. I guess technically, there is one girl and two boys, but I don't think how the relationships unfold in this book will really bother most readers, even if you dislike love triangles.


Danielle (Love at First Page) Hmm. Okay. :) Do you see the typical jumping back and forth?


Wendy Darling No, that doesn't really happen. I don't want to say much more beyond that for fear of spoiling it, but you'll be okay with it, I'm almost sure! Try not to worry. :)


Danielle (Love at First Page) Haha, okay! Thank you. :)


Wendy Darling No problem! It's a very thoughtful book, not at all like a stereotypically shallow PNR/dystopian-lite story. So there isn't anything that really feels like a cliche to me, even if technically there are some familiar tropes.


message 15: by AH (new)

AH Wendy Darling wrote: "I really liked the story and the writing, ladies, but I found the first half (about 50 pages beyond the 100 pages I think that Netgalley was offering as a sneak preview) was confusing and could hav..."

Oh, I am glad you said this. I read the NetGalley sneak peek and I was so confused, I couldn't even finish it. Glad you liked it.


Wendy Darling I am so glad to hear you say that, AH! I think just about all the initial reviews have been raves, so I wasn't sure if I was the only one who was confused by what was going on. I literally flipped back and forth at least a dozen times as I was reading, trying to piece together the timeline and such.

One thing that made me kind of crazy was that for the longest time, I didn't realize that when she referred to "Da," she was talking about her grandfather, not her father! So between all the shifting time jumps, I kept thinking the dad was dead but wondering why we were seeing him in certain scenes. This is partially my fault, because I should have picked up on it before I did, but I went back and read the beginning--the first few pages could have made things more clear for sure.

Also, I am prone to dislike present tense. I could deal with first person present for the main narrative, but it kind of made me nuts that the flashbacks (obviously a few years beforehand) were written in second person, present tense. Added to the brother being dead, the Archive stuff, etc., etc., it was a lot to take in at first.

BUT. Once all the set-up is done and the story gets going, it's very, very good. I can see why people have been raving.


message 17: by AH (last edited Nov 26, 2012 11:01AM) (new)

AH Wendy Darling wrote: "One thing that made me kind of crazy was that for the longest time, I didn't realize that when she referred to "Da," she was talking about her grandfather, not her father! So between all the shifting time jumps, I kept thinking the dad was dead but wondering why we were seeing him in certain scenes. " - That drove me insane! It took me a while to get that she had a Da' and a Dad. Confusing.

I think I quit because it was just a preview and I didn't feel like getting invested for 90 pages. I'm the kind of person that never reads sneak peek chapters at the ends of books because I get a sense of deja vu when I finally get my hands on the book.

I'm glad to hear that it is a good book. Maybe I'll give it another chance later on.


Wendy Darling Oh, you were confused by the Da/Dad thing, too? I feel so much better! I got so frustrated with trying to figure all that out.

I almost never read those previews either, because it makes me nuts not to have access to the full book, hah. Getting too invested and then having to stop/wait six months is too much for me.

I hope you will give it another chance, AH. I thought it was excellent, even with the more muddled beginning chapters.


message 19: by Sarah (new) - added it

Sarah I'm so jealous right now. Can't wait to read your review, Wendy!


message 20: by Kendra (new) - added it

Kendra I look forward to your review--I always want to like books about librarians, but oddly they never end up grabbing me.


Emily (Book Jems) Who called it? Me. That's right. I called it. ;P


Wendy Darling We are going to give away the book in January, Sarah, so look for a review then!

Kendra, this one is definitely a sci fi thriller more than anything else, with the library thing (for people) as a backdrop. :) It works, in my opinion.

I should have trusted you, Em. :P


AriaTheBookNerd I can't wait for your review on this one! :)


Octavia Can't wait to get my hands on this! :)


Wendy Darling It ended up being really, really good, Sandee :) Review to come in January, most likely, although my co-blogger is doing the official one for the blog.

Octavia--not too much longer to wait! :) Thank goodness.


message 26: by Elaine (new) - added it

Elaine Ahhh, you liked this!

/drums fingers for book to be released


message 27: by September (new)

September I recently heard about this series. It sounds very intriguing!!!


Wendy Darling Oh yes, it's a really fun book ladies. :) Review is up, along with a giveaway!


Bobbie Great review Wendy! I'll have to check this one out.


Wendy Darling Thanks Bobbie! I hope you do, it's a very enjoyable read.


message 31: by Aimen (new)

Aimen *Vampire Bookworm* Amazing review Wendy :) Looking forward to give this one a try!


Lottie Eve The premise had already made me interested but your review won me over :) The book has a very original idea. If only there was a real library that was like the one in this book...


Wendy Darling Thanks Aimen! Definitely worth checking out. The slower style probably isn't for everybody, but I actually like that part about it.

I think I'd be freaked out by a library like the one in the book, Lottie! Hah. From what I know of your taste, I think you'd like this one.


message 34: by Snorkle (new) - added it

Snorkle Oh, I had been seeing this book around, but I hadn't picked it up yet. I really enjoyed The Near Witch and coupled with your review, I'm now going to put this on my to-read list!


message 35: by Manda (new) - added it

Manda Great review! I'm very interested to read this one!


Wendy Darling Awesome--you read Archived, I'll read Near Witch, Snorkle. ;)

Thanks Manda! I hope you get your hands on it soon. It's very different from your typical YA sci-fi novel.


message 37: by Simcsa (last edited Jan 25, 2013 11:00AM) (new)

Simcsa I think you'll really like The Near Witch, Wendy, it has that right creepy atmosphere, though I didn't like the love part of the story. Kind of underdeveloped, but it's a fairy tale after all, so it's to be expected.. sort of..
By the way, amazing review as always, I'm looking forward to the book. :)


Katie_la_geek Awesome review, I can't wait to read this : )


~Tina~ Awesome review Wendy! I loved her book The Near Witch but this sounds so intriguing! Off to the book store I go:D


message 40: by Mary Beth (new) - added it

Mary Beth Wow, I hadn't heard of this but now I will have to read it it sounds so interesting - thanks Wendy


message 41: by [deleted user] (new)

I loved THE NEAR WITCH but am a little hesitant to read ARCHIVED bc the mythology sounds confusing to me. (on an aside- wendy, I finally read SHADOW & BONE!!)


Wendy Darling Thanks for the extra insight, Simcsa. It's interesting you say that about the romantic parts in NW, because that's one of the parts I was just so-so about in this book, too. I don't mind that as much, though, it's better than it being a boy-obsessed girl with the main story taking a back seat!

Thanks Kate--hope you get to it soon. :)

Yay, I look forward to your review, Tina! You're always so much faster than I am about posting reviews, hah.

My pleasure, Mary Beth. It's such an unusual concept and a very intriguing story, I hope you enjoy.

Rachel--I was VERY confused during the first half. Almost equal parts enjoyment and confusion, but that evened out after the story got going. Let me know what you think if you get to it. And yay for S&B!


message 43: by Sesana (new) - added it

Sesana Dead people who are kept on shelves like books?

I got this far and had to stop reading your review so I could add this book to my TBR. And then I finished your review, of course. *G* A million thanks for saying that Da is her grandfather, because that would have confused me, too.


message 44: by Wendy Darling (last edited Jan 25, 2013 10:22PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Wendy Darling Hah, that's pretty much what the blurb says, Sesana! I'm glad you are going to give this one a shot--I don't think it's for everybody, but I thought it was very good.

And sheesh, I cannot tell you how confused I was for at least the first 50 pages with the "Da" thing. I thought her father was dead, but then there would be a scene where he was talking, and then there was a scene in the second person present tense where she's talking to her grandfather in the past, and it turns out he's the one that's dead. I literally flipped back and forth a half a dozen times trying to puzzle it all out, hah. But once you push past that--and you can imagine how much I liked the writing and the idea of the story enough to keep going even with all that--it got really good. :)


message 45: by Ana (new)

Ana I really liked your review! Now I want to get the book asap! Thanks :)


message 46: by K. (new)

K. Holy cow I have got to check this out! Great review, Wendy. You certainly sold the book to me -- especially considering that this would have been a far choice for me.


Wendy Darling Thanks Ana! I hope you get a copy soon. :)

Yeah, I think this one would appeal to people who don't normally read a lot of sci-fi, K. Not without some issues, but I thought overall it was a great read.


message 48: by Aryn (new) - added it

Aryn This looks friggin' awesome!


Wendy Darling It is, Aryn! Or at least, I think so. ;)


message 50: by Kate (new) - added it

Kate Thanks for the Da explanation. I was starting to get so lost.


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