Review: The Archived

The Archived
by Victoria Schwab
★★★★☆

Victoria Schwab created an intricate, unique world where the dead aren’t dead; they are Histories and their souls are kept in vaults in the Archive. If a History wakes up, it is the duty of Keepers, who are alive in the Outer world, to wrangle them and send them back to the Archive where Librarians oversee and keep members of the Archive in line.

Our main character is Mackenzie, a teenage girl who balances her secret life of being a Keeper by lying to her family and friends.  Whenever a name appears on a piece of paper she keeps in her pocket, it’s her duty to use her key to open up doors to the Narrows, where she hunts down the rogue History. Mac moves to new town after the death of her little brother, and her new section in her apartment, the Corondo, frequently has Histories waking up. She then becomes tangled up in a plot where someone is altering Histories; erasing memories and deaths.

The plot and world building are unique and well crafted; most of the rules made sense but there was still confusion towards certain elements of the Archive world. As the story progressed, more and more was revealed but even by the end of the novel, not all my questions and wonders were answered (but I mean there is a sequel for a reason). Also, I found the beginning was quite confusing as I assumed Da was Mackenzie’s father, then I thought he was her older brother…  and then he was finally addressed as her grandfather. There are multiple flashbacks with Mac’s memories of her bonding with Da woven into the present, and in my opinion there were too many and they didn’t add to the plot or characters at all.

Mac was a character who I really enjoyed reading about as she was brave, smart and willing to make sacrifices.  She actually thinks before acting and thinks about possible consequences (but of course, she is not perfect and makes several stupid decisions as well). She struggles with bearing the burden of being a Keeper, and I really felt her struggle with the guilty feeling and her want to be just a normal girl and her responsibilities and promise to Da.

  “I would give anything to be normal. The thought creeps in, and I force it away. No I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t give anything. I wouldn’t give the bond I had with Da. I wouldn’t give the time I have with Ben’s drawer. I wouldn’t give Roland, and I wouldn’t give the Archive, with its impossible light and the closest thing I’ve ever felt to peace. This is all I have. This is all I am.”

Next, I have to introduce Guyliner. He is hands down the BEST part of this novel.  Wesley is such a sweet guy who supported Mac in everything she did and helped her learn to trust and rely on others. He provided witty banter and made me smile in almost every scene he was in.  I just wish he had a bigger part in this novel! (sequel please don’t disappoint)

“Looks like you’ve lost a couple fights of your own,” I say, running my finger through the air near his hand, not daring to touch. “How did you get that?”

“Scuff with a lion.”

Watching Wesley lie is fascinating.

“And that?”

“Caught a piranha bare-handed.”

No matter absurd the tale, he says it steady and simple, with the ease of truth.

“And this?”

“A History.”

Everything stops. His whole face changes right after he says it, like he’s been punched in the stomach. The silence hangs between us. And then he does an unfathomable thing. He smiles.

“If you were clever,” he says slowly, “you would have asked me what a History was.”

Blehhh, and then there’s Owen. I was not a fan of him at all and I felt that the author didn’t need to add him as an unnecessary romantic interest. Seriously there is no need for love triangles people. I honestly couldn’t care less about finding out why Owen was able to defy the laws of the Archive; if he was a History or a live person, meh its all the same for me.

Overall, this was an enjoyable YA-paranormal novel with great characters and an exciting, creative plot.  I’m excited to read the second book (MORE WES PLEEAAASE) but I just felt there could be more potential as some things just didn’t really click for me, but hey maybe that’s just me.

priscilla

Review: Of Dreams and Rust

17558151Of Dreams and Rust
by Sarah Fine

★★★★☆

Of Dreams and Rust is the incredibly bittersweet, fast-paced sequel to Of Metal and Wishes. It picks up a year after the end of the last novel. Wen is now working in Gochan 2, the war machine factory, and overhears a rumour that leads her to believe Melik’s life is in danger and so she leaves the safety and familiarity of her father and Bo to warn him. When they finally reunite however, he’s not the same person she knew a year ago and she begins to question betraying her own people for the sake of his.

It is not a happy realization. It does not bring me any pleasure, not even the savage, animal kind. I thought my own people were the villains, but now I see the truth: all of us are villains. The Noor are just as bad, just as bloodthirsty, just as willing to cause suffering and death. If they had war machines, they would use them. When they have the ability to hurt, they do.”

Never fear however! Despite all the obstacles keeping them apart, Melik and Wen’s relationship is just as heartwarming as ever, if not more! Although I couldn’t blame Wen at the beginning for believing the worst of Melik – I mean come on, if someone threw down decapitated pinkies at my feet, I’d probably have good reason to think he had killed them too! But of course Melik proves his love to be loyal and true, using his super intense gazes that just melt me from across the pages and an ultra-protective but not overbearing attitude that I seriously could not get enough of – I find that often in YA and NA we get a lot of alpha-male personas that are swoony on paper but whom I’d never want to have a relationship with in real life, but Melik is a whole ‘nother story. He would be protective of Wen but he respected her as a person who was capable of actually making a change. (Wen, you lucky, lucky duck.)

‘I am not Itanyai, Ghost. I am Noor and we value our women for what they can do.’ He gestures to the group that will journey into the hills, some of whom are female. ‘We do not shackle them the way you do. They may not fight at the front line, but they are strong, and they do fight.’ “

I also love that Fine didn’t shy away from the grittiness of war and its profound effects on character development. Melik did whatever he had to in order to survive and fight for his people, even if it came at the cost of his conscience. I think I respected him a lot more because of the actions he took and how the war forced him, and Sinan as well, to grow beyond their years. So clearly, nothing but love for the Red One!

As the novel progressed however, I found myself missing that intense social division that Fine wove into Of Metal and Wishes. It seemed to me that this book was just so focused on the romance that it lost some of the intensity of the plot being carried over from the first novel in the series. (Not that I can complain too much, Melik and Wen did have me swooning left, right and centre after all…) The end especially left me without a sense of closure – years and years of social oppression ended with a single battle and a treaty? Where was the political strife? The glaring tensions between the Itanyai and the Noor? Not only did I find it a little unlikely that the Itanyai would even propose this but I WANTED MORE. I wanted dirty, gritty politics, I wanted a face-off between the leaders of the Noor and the Itanyai. I wanted all the Noor to unify and rise up as a whole against the injustices they’ve faced. The final battle felt like a triumph for Wen, Melik and the village of Dagchocuk when I wanted it to belong to an entire people.

Overall though, I have nothing but love for this series. It’s been a wild rollercoaster of emotions, with both tears and laughter alike. Fine has this raw, emotional writing style and wonderfully complex characters that never fail to hook me in and never let me go, even long after I’ve read the last words.

sheryl

Review: P.S. I Still Love You

P.S. I Still Love You
by Jenny Han

★★★☆☆

This book was the highly anticipated sequel to Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and continues with Laura Jean’s relationship with her now “real” boyfriend Peter K.

As much as I enjoyed Peter and Laura Jean together, I was pretty frustrated that the author decided to make them “that couple”; the ones that have petty fights and don’t talk things out with each other or apologize. I could see the conflict brewing from ten miles away. There was an unnecessary love triangle/square in the book that was also super annoying because John was actually such a sweet guy! The conflict got “resolved” (if you can call it a resolution even) so quickly, and then bam, the book was over just like that. (where are my cheesy epilogues at??) And let me just say, there were moments where I liked Peter.. but most of the time I honestly thought he was a bit of a douchebag.

But, in a sense, their rocky relationship was also a likeable point from this book since they were portrayed realistically and they weren’t those super lovey –dovey couples in novels that have no arguments what so ever. Their problems and arguments were things that go on in the teenage world today (e.g. sex, the power of social media/online bullying, labels [being called a slut and being gay], popularity, etc.), and I was glad the author addressed these issues. I also loved how she incorporated Laura Jean’s Korean heritage and culture in the book, as you don’t typically see diversity in YA books.
Even though there were quite a few parts of this book where I felt frustrated, this was still a loveable book because it was realistic, and Laura Jean is a main character that you just can connect to, from her inquisitive attitude and worries to her love and care for her family and friends.

“Lara Jean, I think you half-fall in love with every person you meet. It’s part of your charm. You’re in love with love.
This may be true. Perhaps I am in love with love! That doesn’t seem like such a bad way to be.”

She’s a character that grows so much in this book and you just feel so proud of her when she overcomes obstacles and reacts to situations in a new, better light. There are some profound and heartwarming moments in this book where Laura Jean discovers more about herself and who she is, and learns about love.

“People come in and out of your life. For a time they are your world; they are everything. And then one day they’re not. There’s no telling how long you will have them near.”

Also can I just say I love the Song family; their honesty and love for each other was so genuine, and I just really felt their family situation since it is so similar to mine. Those little moments when Laura Jean misses her mom… yeah me too girl, me too. I love how there are moments when Laura Jean has real talks with her dad, as well with her older sister Margo, who’s living in another country. Also, Kitty is an adorable, badass little sister who can always get a laugh out of me.

Although I love reading in first person because I find that it helps me connect to the characters better, there were times where I found the writing a little childish – which is understandable since it is the voice of Laura Jean.

This book was full of emotions, from my cringing moments of second-hand embarrassment, the tears forming in my eyes from Laura Jean’s troubles, to the wide smiles from cute couple moments, this book still leaves me conflicted with my emotions… I’m happy with the novel overall but at the same time I’m not fully satisfied.

priscilla