Review of The Unbound by Victoria Schwab

The Unbound (The Archived, #2)The Unbound (The Archived #2)
By: Victoria Schwab
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: January 28th 2014

An electronic copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

My Rating:
star

This is a sequel so there will be spoilers for the first book, The Archived.

Summary:
Last summer, Mackenzie Bishop, a Keeper tasked with stopping violent Histories from escaping the Archive, almost lost her life to one. Now, as she starts her junior year at Hyde School, she’s struggling to get her life back. But moving on isn’t easy — not when her dreams are haunted by what happened. She knows the past is past, knows it cannot hurt her, but it feels so real, and when her nightmares begin to creep into her waking hours, she starts to wonder if she’s really safe.

Meanwhile, people are vanishing without a trace, and the only thing they seem to have in common is Mackenzie. She’s sure the Archive knows more than they are letting on, but before she can prove it, she becomes the prime suspect. And unless Mac can track down the real culprit, she’ll lose everything, not only her role as Keeper, but her memories, and even her life. Can Mackenzie untangle the mystery before she herself unravels?

With stunning prose and a captivating mixture of action, romance, and horror, The Unbound delves into a richly imagined world where no choice is easy and love and loss feel like two sides of the same coin.

The Story:
Victoria Schwab has a way with words. Her writing continues to be both beautiful and haunting in this sequel to The Archived.  If you’ve read Schwab’s work, then you know that her writing is slow paced but never boring. She takes time to build her world and characters, allowing the reader to become fully immersed while slowly ticking up the tension into vivid action scenes.

The Unbound picks up with Mac trying to adjust and overcome the events of what occurred in the last book. We explore her struggle with balancing both her normal life and that of a Keeper. I loved that Schwab didn’t wash over how those things would have affected her but delved into it and really showed us what it felt like. The story woven was incredibly complex and twisty turny though never confusing. I’ve always been a fan of her creative world building and how closely it mirrors our own reality but with just enough to make it completely unique. I felt that this second journey into the world of the Keepers gave me even more insight into how this world functions.

The Characters:
In The Archived I really loved Wesley, Mac, Roland and Da. All were incredibly genuine and fleshed out. In The Unbound we have less of Da and Roland but so much more of Mac. I thought I had known her after reading the first installment but I was introduced to even more depth. After the events of the last novel Mac is dealing with so much fear, guilt and confusion. Watching her struggle in her everyday life was as intriguing as it was heartbreaking. She hasn’t been able to sleep without horrible nightmares so her waking life is blurred around the edges and so the book has a dream-like quality. I loved this aspect.

Mac’s lack of sleep and nightmares plus her stubborn nature and inability to admit that she needs help puts her in critical situations and had me tense. I was biting my nails watching her blunder her way through life. I constantly wanted to shake her and force her to confide in someone.

Wesley. Just a big sigh of relief when I think of his character (and guy-liner).  I grew to appreciate him even further in this book. As Mac’s world was crumbling he felt like a pillar of comfort and support. After the confusion of what Mac has been experiencing I felt as relieved as she did within his presence. I loved that we became privy to tiny bits of his life beyond his interactions with Mac and as a Keeper. Along with his own character growth, I felt that his dialog and understanding for Mac’s situation grew as well.

We meet some new characters and continue to see Mac’s family trying to cope with their lives. The one character I felt was somewhat absent was Roland. I admit, he wasn’t as needed in this storyline but I missed him regardless.

Final Thoughts:
Once again I have fallen in love with Victoria Scwhab’s writing, world and characters.

Extras:
My review of The Archived
Lego recreation of the cover of The Unbound

Review of Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi

Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky, #3)Into the Still Blue
By: Veronica Rossi
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: January 28th 2014

A copy was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Their love and their leadership have been tested. Now it’s time for Perry and Aria to unite the Dwellers and the Outsiders in one last desperate attempt to bring balance to their world.

The race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate. Aria and Perry are determined to find this last safe-haven from the Aether storms before Sable and Hess do-and they are just as determined to stay together.

Meanwhile, time is running out to rescue Cinder, who was abducted by Hess and Sable for his unique abilities. And when Roar returns to camp, he is so furious with Perry that he won’t even look at him, and Perry begins to feel like they have already lost.

Out of options, Perry and Aria assemble a team to mount an impossible rescue mission-because Cinder isn’t just the key to unlocking the Still Blue and their only hope for survival, he’s also their friend. And in a dying world, the bonds between people are what matter most.

The Story:
I have been a fan of this series since it began with Under the Never Sky, which will always be my favorite since it was my introduction to Rossi’s writing. With this series conclusion I was immediately swept up in Rossi’s world building and character interactions. Into the Still Blue continued with all of the things I loved about the first two books and added a conclusion that I found to be satisfying if not a tad bit anti-climatic.

I felt that the story was equally full of wrapping up loose threads, action and building on the character’s development within themselves and with each other. Though I did not reread the prior books I had no problem slipping back into Aria and Perry’s story. It’s hard for me to really speak of any details concerning plot since there would be spoilers, but suffice it to say I was pleased with the outcome.

The Characters:
I love the story that Rossi has created but the characters in this series really are the reason I love it so much. The relationship between Perry and Aria is very realistic and I feel that it matures as they do. I love that they had growing pains and problems but there wasn’t unnecessary drama. Their relationship was refreshing because of their affection, respect and treatment of one another.

Roar and Aria had a friendship and dynamic that I don’t recall finding in young adult before; a male and female relationship that was strictly platonic though there was real deep-seeded affection between the two. I loved how their dialog was easy going and how they bounced off one another. Roar, in general, had some of the best dialog through out the series. I think it’s safe to say that he was able to steal all of our hearts.

I found Perry’s relationship with Cinder to be incredibly heartbreaking because of the emotional blocks each had to overcome. Really, each character was developed and had substantial growth over the duration of the three books. Having read their stories, I feel a connection to each of them that I won’t soon forget.

Final Thoughts:
Anyone that has been a fan of the series will enjoy this final book. Rossi treats her readers to a fully thought out conclusion to a story that has swept so many of us away. I am so curious about what project she has up next. Anyone know?