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: Crimson Bound

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Crimson Bound
by Rosamund Hodge
★★★ ½

I really, really wanted to love this book. I’m actually kind of angry at myself for not liking it as much as I wanted to. There were so many incredible elements of this novel – from the powerful writing, to the sheer emotion and the tingling eeriness that I’ve come to expect from Hodge – but in the end, while I definitely enjoyed it, I didn’t feel as utterly captivated as I did while reading Cruel Beauty.

I think most of this lack of engrossment came from my inability to connect with the main characters. For me, if I have difficulty connecting with the main characters right off the bat, I’m unable to really get into and appreciate the rest of the novel. Which is one of the reasons why I’m so upset – honestly, I think if I loved Rachelle and Armand as much as I did Nyx and Ignifex, this book would’ve been an out-of-this-world favourite for me. But it’s not as if Hodge didn’t give me enough opportunities to connect with Rachelle –

Every day for the last three years, she had thought she deserved to die. She still didn’t want to. She wanted to live with every filthy desperate scrap of her heart.”

 She’s utterly complex, both viciously dark and haunted by her past yet still unbroken and fighting to save the people she loves. However, in the end, I just couldn’t get past the bitter self-hatred and self-pity that she puts herself through. I understood it and my heart went out to her for the horrific things she experienced but I just couldn’t read it over so many times.

Armand was also a character I had difficulty liking. There was nothing wrong with him necessarily – other than being a bit predictable, but I couldn’t find anything spectacular about him either.

The writing on the other hand, was absolutely dazzling. The descriptions of the Château de Lune made me swoon with giddy delight while the Great Forest made me sit up straighter and hold my book tighter with anticipation every time it came into play. The back story with Zisa and Tyr was enthralling, both bone chilling and heartbreaking, a combination that Hodge employs perfectly. Usually I’m not a huge fan of a story within a story but I couldn’t get enough of this one!

“Zisa would have gladly lost hands and feet and eyes and tongue for her brother. But she knew that if she waited for him to pick up the sword, he would refuse and die beside her, and his death was the one thing she could not endure. So she picked up the sword and cut off his right hand.”

All in all, I enjoyed reading Crimson Bound and loved the darkness it lent to the beloved Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale but I just wanted something more out of the characters!

sheryl

Review: The Stars Never Rise

The Stars Never Rise
by Rachel Vincent

★★★★☆

I could read this book for breakfast, lunch, dinner…and then reread it for dessert. It was action-packed (seriously, this one is a real page-turner!), had a kick-ass heroine and a cute romance that didn’t detract from the wicked world-building. I mean, what more could you ask for out of a book??

Not much, would be the correct answer! Nina Kane, sixteen-year-old heroine, lends a genuine, honest voice to the novel – I literally got chills down my back a few times while reading. I admire her tenacity in the face of overwhelming odds, both with her mother and at school. She’s willing to sacrifice everything she has for her family, even deciding to pledge herself to the Church to give her and her sister the best possible chance for survival.

Having a sister of my own, strong sibling relationships are one of my favourite things to read about. Nina and Mellie have a sweet, genuine relationship that really gave strength to the novel. When Mellie’s secret is revealed and when Nina’s mother reveals that Nina uses her body to help her family, there is zero judgement between the sisters, just the need to help each other and lean on each other’s strength.

I like that Nina’s strength doesn’t necessarily come through in her physicality, (becoming an exorcist definitely didn’t come easy to her – she didn’t magically become a super-star exorcist overnight but had to struggle, sweat and bleed to exorcise the demons she encountered) but through her tenacity and grit.

..they could come at me with scalpels and sutures and sever my bloodline along with my fallopian tubes, but they could never cut out my thoughts, and they could only kill my dreams if I let them. I still had worth. I still had hope. My future was whatever I wanted to make of it.”

Having been oppressed by the Church her whole life, sterilized at fifteen for having allergies, flat feet and mild myopia, it’s commendable that she hasn’t broken down and is still fighting for the people she loves and the values she believes in. It was really refreshing and engaging to read about a heroine that was so steadfast and resolute throughout the entirety of the novel.

The romance gave off a few instalove vibes and took me by surprise. It’s mentioned a few times from the members of the Anathema that Finn really likes Nina but why?? Sure, he admires her strength, but I wish there was just a little more relationship development. Nevertheless, the quick romance was definitely offset by how much I loved Nina and Finn. They were just so darn adorable that the romance actually turned out to be a huge plus for me – especially after the fascinating plot twist with Finn.

I’m a sucker for green eyes and cutesy smiles just as much as the next girl but even I will admit that the “green eye” description felt like beating a dead horse for the first third of the novel, although the reasoning for this did become clear eventually! Finn is absolutely charming and undeniably, an easy character to love. Although his situation sucks – it must be so emotionally tolling and difficult to live how he does and to finally meet a girl he likes but be unable to offer her the things a normal person could! I just feel so horrible for him – but he never comes across as bitter but is instead hopeful and spirited. A totally swoon-worthy character.

Although it was most definitely a page-turner, I can’t help but wish that even more stuff had happened. I want more Nina, more Finn, more time to get to know the rest of the Anathema (especially Reese and Maddox – whom I found a little harder to connect to, the main reason probably being that they had to share their screen time with someone else) and more relationship and character development! I’m beyond excited to read the next novel in the series and will be anxiously awaiting its arrival!

sheryl