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.
“Caught a piranha bare-handed.”
No matter absurd the tale, he says it steady and simple, with the ease of truth.
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.