The Archive protects the past by way of keeping physical copies of the dead, called Histories. Mackenzie Bishop works for the Archive as a Keeper, a dangerous job that includes patrolling the Narrows for escaped and possibly violent Histories and putting them back where they belong. But after her brother’s death she and her family move into a new place in a former hotel, the Coronado. Not only does Mackenzie have to leave behind her best friend and everything that was connected to Ben, she also has to deal with an uprise in escaped Histories that leaves her wondering just what is going on in the Archive lately.
I got my hands on The Archived ages ago because (in case you weren’t aware of it yet) I am shallow and was intrigued by the cover. I never actually got around to reading it and with The Unbound coming out earlier this year I figured now was as good a time as any to read it.
Frankly, I didn’t think I would finish this book. It’s not bad, but the pacing was all over the place. The beginning was awfully slow and I just wanted the book to get to the point and it took quite a while until it got there. Add to that the constant flashbacks, I just kept being irritated at how badly the story flowed in the beginning – though on the upside, the flashbacks were nicely formatted in my ebook, which helped with distinguishing them from the rest of the plot. I had troubles with the POV because while it was from Mac’s point of view, the flashbacks were in second person and addressed to her Da and that was pretty jarring.
Which brings me to the Da thing. I don’t want to spoil the book, but the person Mac affectionately calls Da was not who I thought she meant. Maybe it’s a cultural thing and my being unversed in the ways of what to call certain relatives, but it was very confusing when I eventually at some point in the middle of the book found out that her Da was not the relation I thought he was. I eventually got over that, though. It just would’ve been nice to know in the beginning because reading it I was under the impression we were actually dealing with interesting family dynamics, but nope. Not the case.
That said, I did come to enjoy it eventually. The world-building was interesting. I wish we could’ve read more about how the Archive works, how the different branches work, but I figure that’ll come in subsequent books. Still, I could imagine the Narrows and the Archive well enough and I had no trouble seeing the Coronado in my head, so that’s good enough for me.
As for the characters… Mackenzie’s story was interesting and she wasn’t without faults, which I really enjoyed. I also adored Roland, even though I couldn’t quite pin him down all the time. But he was lovely to Mackenzie and that’s a thumbs up from me, considering the other people who work for the Archive. As far as sympathies go, I really enjoyed that I didn’t know who to trust. I wasn’t sure whose side to be on until the end, really, and maybe that’s just a sign for my inability to foresee plot points, but hey, I liked it. It kept me on my toes and intrigued enough to finish!
I also enjoyed that the the romance wasn’t the most important bit of the book, I was rather afraid that it might be. I don’t know why I am so averse to romance – perhaps because it’s overdone and often just the same kind of events, no matter which book you pick up. I really liked what the author did with it in this book though, as it wasn’t too in-your-face.
The one thing that I really just don’t understand about the book and which is partly why I am only giving it three teacups is the Archive as an institution. What is the point of it? To protect the past, yes, but why? Why are they doing that, what is the purpose of it, why do they keep the Histories? Just why?! I didn’t understand it at all.
All in all, I’m feeling fine with giving the book three teacups. It wasn’t perfect and while I liked it, it didn’t wow me. I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes slightly otherworldly mysteries with a bit of action and romance that doesn’t overpower everything else.