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:

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

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.

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


  1. says

    After this review and re-reading your review of The Archived, it seems that I really need to check out this series!
    Hopefully soon! Thanks for a great review, Kristen!

    • says

      You’ve not read these yet? I believe you’d enjoy them. Have you read any of Schwab’s books? I’ve still not read Vicious but have read The Near Witch.

  2. says

    The description for the first book in this series is so unique, and it’s what first made me interested in it. Somehow, though, The Archived kept getting pushed back on my tbr shelf and I haven’t been able to start the series yet. It can be frustrating to watch characters make choices that you know are wrong. I’m glad to hear that Wesely was able to give relief for you and provide support for Mac. How did you like the ending? Is this the last book in the series?

    • says

      It is unknown if this is the last book. it didn’t leave on a cliff-hanger but there is room for more (and I hope there is)!

      It was on the verge of frustrating me watching Mac make decisions but it never got to that point exactly. It was very well done and Wesley is so awesome 🙂 I hope you read it soon!

  3. says

    The more I hear about this Wesley, the more I want to meet him. I so need to get a move on and pick up my copy of The Archived! I don’t know what’s holding me back, as I’ve heard nothing but good things about both of these books. I’m so glad to see that the sequel lived up to your expectations. 🙂

    • says

      Sam, I think you’d really enjoy these books. Have you read any of Schwab’s books? I have head the best things about Vicious and haven’t read it yet (though I plan to very soon).

    • says

      Thinking you’ll enjoy this Carina. Be prepared there is a teeny tiny maybe love triangle. Less triangle and just a passing interest. So, hopefully that doesn’t bother you too badly.

  4. says

    Gah, Wesley and that guy-liner. I didn’t think I could love him any more, but this book accomplished that. I totally felt that, too, that amidst everything else, he is Mac’s staunchest supporter, her pillar of strength. And I love that we get to know Mac more in-depth through this novel. Though, the urge to shake her hit me hard and often while reading. I missed Roland’s calming presence, but when he was there, Schwab made it count. I just love this series SO MUCH. I can’t wait for our buddy read of Vicious!

    • says

      I love Victoria’s writing too. So eloquent and builds up beautifully. I’m super eager to start Vicious too…I imagine we’ll both love it. I missed Roland and would love a novella featuring his story, wouldn’t that be amazing?


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