There are times you walk into a book terrified by expectations. That happened to me with The Archived. I hadn’t even heard of the series until maybe a week or two ago. It was unknown territory. Sure I had a book (Vicious) by the author (under another name, V.E. Schwab), but I hadn’t gone searching for anything else. Not yet at least. The sudden influx of how fantastic this book scared me, but when I saw a copy sitting in the library practically calling me, I brought it home.
I wanted to find out what all the hype was about. i wanted to know why people seemed to praise this books so much, yet I’d never heard it. Sure, that was likely just because I wasn’t listening in the right places. i wasn’t plugged in to where I would hear all the screams and shouts. I had been isolated in my own little world. Only grabbing books when they hit extreme main stream or I somehow managed to stumble upon it. The only reason I read Mistborn a few years ago was because a co-worker friend was a fan of Brandon Sanderson. My little bubble kept me isolated, but it also kept me from hype.
Then all of a sudden I stumble upon Booktube. A number of the books were in fact books I’d already discovered in my own isolated tunnel that slowly started to expand due to steady research. However, Booktube also brought all the hype along with it. Suddenly there was this book that I’d never heard of and most people seemed to absolutely love it. I was skeptical.
Then I decided to read it. No doubt it started slow. I liked Mackenzie Bishop. Heck I even thought that she was incredibly relatable in her behavior. The world however felt a bit stark. It’s a fantasy dealing with a concept of death, but twisting in interesting ways. Then suddenly the whole book was just moving and I was on the train with it. I didn’t even know when it happened, but I realized that I had to know what came next. How was Mackenzie going to deal with the Histories? How was she going to get to a place where she finally accepted that her brother was dead?
I had to know.
Along the way I was treated to a flurry of characters that were interesting and I came to really care about. There was something about Nix’s gruff charm that was endlessly endearing. While I cam to genuinely swoon over Wesley and how friendly he was even if he wore guyliner. While I didn’t connect to her parents as much as I could have, even they were interesting enough that I never felt any real disdain toward them. They were parents and parents are people too. It was refreshing to see a parent child relationship that felt real. She cared about them, but lied to them, but that didn’t mean she didn’t get mad. It felt natural and that helped me buy into the world more.
Buying into it was vital in this case. This is mainly because I never got a clear understanding of the Narrows or the Archive. Eventually I created images of these places in my head, the Archive more than the Narrows, but it was a bit frustrating that I couldn’t visualize these places that we spent so much time in.
One of the things that I really loved was that it made me think. It didn’t make me get all existential, but I was contemplating the world. My mind was constantly spinning trying to figure out what was going to happen next. That was a satisfying feeling that I don’t always get. Honestly, that’s really what set this book apart from books I just really like. It’s not often that I become so invested in a story that I’m constantly trying to figure it out before it’s over. For me that’s a signal that it’s drawn me in. Theories mean I’m in. Sure, the twists weren’t really all that game changing, a number of them I predicted. However, it maintained a level of questions. Once one was answered, more were asked so I was always left thinking about something or hoping that the characters do a certain thing.
I loved The Archived.