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

Favorite Books of 2013 Thus Far

We are three months into 2013 and there have already been some amazing books–2013 hasn’t let me down so far! Here are five that really swept me away.

  • Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare I would say this was my most anticipated book of 2013 and I’m so happy it was everything I could have ever wanted. I seriously cried through most of the book just knowing it was coming to an end.
  • Unravel Me by: Tahereh Mafi I enjoyed Shatter Me but the sequel was incredible—I was blown away by how powerful this book was. As it’s been said before…all the “feels”
  • Scarlet by Marissa Meyer I loved Cinder so much but somehow Meyer’s additions to the cast of characters made for an even more compelling read.
  • The Archived by Victoria Schwab I love Schwab’s ability to build a world and how beautifully she writes.
  • Splintered by A.G. Howard What an amazing take of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Howard’s wonderland and Morpheus haunted me well after I was done reading. I want more!

What are your favorite books so far this year?

Update: I can NOT believe I forgot Veronica Rossi’s Through the Ever Night!

The Archived by Victoria Schwab Review

Victoria SchwabThe Archived
By: Victoria Schwab
Release Date: January 22, 2013
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH

My Rating:
star

Summary (via jacket copy):
Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da frist brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was: a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous–it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now that her little brother is gone too, Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself may crumble and fall.

The Story:
The Archive is beautifully imagined and detailed in its world building. Victoria Schwab creates an extensive after-life that is very original and intriguing. The book twists and turns and though I could guess a few aspects I was surprised by many of the turns. The pacing is slow and methodical, but never boring. The last third of the book picks up pace and carries you along to a wonderful climax. I prefer the end of the book to the beginning and I think a lot of that is due to the beginning narrative focusing a lot on background and explaining  Histories, the Archive, Keepers, Keys, etc. It took me a few chapters before I felt like I had a grasp on what Mackenzie does. The novel has a creepy atmosphere but isn’t out right scary. Schwab uses flashbacks artfully, they always build the story and often times provide small hints as to where its headed.

The Characters:
Da is my favorite character, I have such a clear image of him (smoking his cigarettes) and how it would feel to have him as a teacher and relative. I found myself looking forward to flashbacks so I could read about his and Kenzie’s interactions and lessons. Da is allusive, mysterious yet loving and informative and I think he has some of the best lines in the book,

Da used to say that only fools and cowards scorned fear. Fear keeps you alive

I like Mackenzie, I empathize with her and her struggles. I don’t envy her life and what she goes through daily and I felt invested in her story. Wesley grew on me with his humor. At first I felt iffy about his description but as the story progresses it just fits him so perfectly. Roland is such an interesting character I hope we get to learn more about him in the future; I’d love to see his story in a novella.

Final thoughts:
Unique and creative afterlife that takes what is normal in our world and builds on it in such a realistic yet fantastic way. Its one of those books that you’ll want to reread after you know the full story so you can look a the book again with your gained knowledge.

Click here for a sneak peak

New YA Releases for January 22, 2013

These are the new releases I’ll be checking out this Tuesday, January 22:

Everbound BoundlessThe Archived

Everbound by Brodi Ashton is book two in the Everneath series.
Summary (via Goodreads):
Nikki Beckett could only watch as her boyfriend, Jack, sacrificed himself to save her, taking her place in the Tunnels of the Everneath for eternity — a debt that should’ve been hers. She’s living a borrowed life, and she doesn’t know what to do with the guilt. And every night Jack appears in her dreams, lost and confused and wasting away.

Desperate for answers, Nikki turns to Cole, the immortal bad boy who wants to make her his queen — and the one person least likely to help. But his heart has been touched by everything about Nikki, and he agrees to assist her in the only way he can: by taking her to the Everneath himself.

Nikki and Cole descend into the Everneath, only to discover that their journey will be more difficult than they’d anticipated — and more deadly. But Nikki vows to stop at nothing to save Jack — even if it means making an incredible sacrifice of her own.

In this enthralling sequel to Everneath, Brodi Ashton tests the bonds of destiny and explores the lengths we’ll go to for the ones we love.

Boundless by Cynthia Hand is book three in the Unearthly series.
Summary (via Goodreads):
The past few years have held more surprises than part-angel Clara Gardner could ever have anticipated. Yet from the dizzying highs of first love, to the agonizing low of losing someone close to her, the one thing she can no longer deny is that she was never meant to live a normal life.

Since discovering the special role she plays among the other angel-bloods, Clara has been determined to protect Tucker Avery from the evil that follows her . . . even if it means breaking both their hearts. Leaving town seems like the best option, so she’s headed back to California – and so is Christian Prescott, the irresistible boy from the vision that started her on this journey in the first place.

As Clara makes her way in a world that is frighteningly new, she discovers that the fallen angel who attacked her is watching her every move. And he’s not the only one. . . . With the battle against the Black Wings looming, Clara knows she must finally fulfil her destiny. But it won’t come without sacrifices and betrayal.

In the riveting finale of the Unearthly series, Clara must decide her fate once and for all.

The Archived by Victoria Schwab is the first in the The Archived series.
Summary (via Goodreads):
Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often-violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous-it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.(