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Unbound, The : An Archived Novel [Hardcover]

Victoria Schwab

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Book Description

20 Feb 2014 Archived
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. Mackenzie Bishop is still recovering from having almost lost her life to a violent History. But moving on is proving a difficult task when all she dreams of is that fateful day. And when people begin disappearing, all lines lead back to her. Mackenzie fears a set-up and the race is on to prove it.

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Unbound, The : An Archived Novel + The Archived + Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children)
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  38 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stellar sequel to a truly wonderful series. 7 Feb 2014
By Nikki - Published on Amazon.com
This review originally appeared on my blog, There Were Books Involved.


There is something about Victoria Schwab’s Archived series that moves me on so many levels. The Archived and The Unbound are both incredibly, beautifully written, and they effortlessly pull on your emotions. They’re exciting, heart-wrenching, intense, and completely un-put-down-able, and they will give you feels like crazy. They’re just… utterly wonderful.

In this latest installment, Our Heroine, Mackenzie Bishop, is desperately trying to recover from the events that took place at the end of The Archived, but she’s suffering from horrible nightmares about the History she faced. This leads to long periods of time without sleep, which lead to blackouts… and worse. Mackenzie feels like her reality is starting to unravel. Add to that, the fact that people around her are disappearing, and Mac isn’t sure if she’s making connections where there are none, if she’s somehow the causes of these disappearances, of if there’s actually something sinister going on… and that people at the Archive may be responsible.

--- The Worldbuilding ---

Other than the beautiful writing, and the emotions these books evoke from the reader, another major reason I adore this series is because of its world. The world and “mythology” of The Archived and The Unbound are wholly original and extraordinary and believable. The Archive as an institution (“where the dead rest on shelves like books…”) is absolutely fascinating. And we get to see so much more of it in The Unbound. It’s sometimes scary, and oftentimes beautiful, and always fascinating. The mythology of the Archive has a weight to it which is just stunning.

--- The Pacing ---

To talk about the pacing, I have to first explain that I think of both The Archived and The Unbound as “thrillers”, in a sense. And for me, my favorite kind of thriller is not a constantly action-packed “thrill-ride”, but one that keeps you glued to the plot and different threads of the mystery by slowly building tension. (Many people like slow-building romance… I like slow-building suspense.)

This series may not be full of explosions, chases, and constant action from beginning to end; but it’s full of suspense and potential, which keep building up and up and up, while all the while you know something huge has to happen to resolve things. So for me, the pacing in The Unbound is absolutely flawless, starting out slow (but never feeling slow — the characters are more than enough to carry the story), and then steadily building that tension, until the truly explosive conclusion. (No, literally — it’s explosive. Just read it. You’ll see.) ;)

--- The Characters ---

The characters in The Unbound are strikingly human. They are very much not perfect, and they make mistakes (lots of mistakes), and most of all, they are complicated. They are made of many, many layers. We all have different sides to our personality — some we show to the world, some we show to specific people at specific times, and some we keep hidden away. And I cannot get over the ease with which Schwab portrays this complexity in her characters. We are made of many pieces, but ultimately those pieces form a whole, and this is so beautifully realized in The Archived and The Unbound.

--- Mackenzie Bishop ---

There is so much going on in this girl’s head, and all of it is so raw and believable. Mac is faced with so much hardship, so many hard truths, and yet even when she’s given the chance to basically start over with a clean slate, she knows the importance of remembering those hardships. Our scars make us who we are. We are our successes and failures, we’ve lived through good times and bad. This is yet another reason why The Unbound is such a beautiful book, to me…

Every life is a pile of good things and bad things.
The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa,
the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant.
- The Doctor, Doctor Who, “Vincent and the Doctor”

I would argue that Mackenzie takes this one step further. The bad things not only “don’t spoil” the good things, they are just as important. We are strong. We survive them. And that means something incredibly important.

--- Wesley Ayers ---

Wes continues to be his 110% awesome self in The Unbound. I seriously don’t even know how to describe his level of awesome… He is an amazing friend to Mac, and their growing relationship (not necessarily romantic, but definitely something strong and real) is one of my favorite things about this book. Wes is often wonderfully flippant and flirty, but he’s also so incredibly loyal, and he wants to be so open with Mackenzie, even when she can’t be open with him. She has so much to work on and so much growth to do, but she makes such huge strides in The Unbound that I just… Oh, we’re back to talking about Mackenzie again. Sorry. Wesley. Wesley is wonderful. ;) We learn so much about him in The Unbound, but he still remains a mystery in so many ways… I just love him to death.

--- The New Guy(s) ---

The Unbound also introduces us to a few new characters, thanks to a new group of friends Mac meets at Hyde School. Most notable among them is a new guy-friend, Cash, who is kiiiind of awesome, and I loved him so much more than I expected to. Being completely honest here — I was expecting a bit of a competition between Cash and Wes, over Mackenzie. And… well, I don’t want to give anything away, but I was really happy with how this dynamic played out. Everything that did happen still felt completely in-character for everyone. I just… I hate to be vague. But that whole dynamic was excellently handled, and I could not be happier with it. Love Cash. Love Wes. Love all the rest of Mac’s friends at Hyde. Just. Love.

In Conclusion...

Everything about this series is perfect to me. It takes all of my favorite things and throws them all together and it is perfect. The library-based atmosphere of the Archive, the suspense of a slow-burning thriller, complex and believable characters, heart-wrenching emotions, beautifully-developed relationships… I could go on. This series is wonderful, and this sequel, The Unbound, could not have been better. It’s everything wonderful about The Archived, plus so much more. Seriously, guys, if you haven’t started this series, I implore you. Start it. You will not regret it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Victoria Schwab...please give us more! 8 May 2014
By CindiJ - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Unbound was awesome! The perfect sequel to a great novel, The Archived. Victoria Schwab is now one of my favorite authors in this YA genre and I just want to read more about Wesley and MacKenzie. In the Unbound, we follow MacKenzie as she gets more settled into her new surroundings and has to go to her new school. This book follows more of a day to day life of MacKenzie while she's being haunted by what has happened in the Archived. Without giving too much away, let me just say that I want more of Wesley! He's intriguing and darker than what I expected and I wanted to know more about his past. This book series is not getting the exposure and readership it deserves and I hope Ms. Schwab continues with this series. If she continues, I'd love to see MacKenzie and Wesley upgraded to Crew and have to work together on the streets to capture escaped Histories. That would be so awesome!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Unbound is like a serving of my favorite dessert... 6 Feb 2014
By Kelley (Oh, the Books!) - Published on Amazon.com
Victoria Schwab is one of those authors whose work somehow catches me by surprise every time. After three books and two short stories — all of which I rated between 4 and 5 stars, and most of which landed on my all-time-favorites list — you’d think I’d have learned what to expect from her by now. Once again, however, The Unbound has exceeded my expectations and left me reeling from (and I don’t say this lightly, because I do not use this phrase. Ever.) ALL THE FEELS.

What I loved about The Archived was the imagination, the world-building, and the storytelling. The whole idea of a person’s History being stored on a shelf in the Archives, maintained by Archive Librarians and Keepers? Brilliant, and fascinating to explore. I was happy to discover that there was much more of this whole concept in The Unbound. In addition, there were new themes, new characters, and new places that all piqued my interest.

I read in a recent interview with Schwab that one of her goals with this book was to explore the idea that “it’s okay to NOT be okay,” and this theme is quite present in The Unbound. In fact, a variation of that line is actually present in the book. Mackenzie has suffered several tragic ordeals, she’s dealing with grief and stress in her everyday life, and she’s got a whole secret life that is also in complete turmoil. Girl’s got s*** staring her down from every angle, and I can relate in a big way. Mackenzie’s choices and actions felt real and believable to me, and I found myself understanding her more than being frustrated with her, which is a big bonus for me, because usually that is not that case!

The best part is that Schwab tackled this subject in such a way that the book felt natural, familiar, and subtle all at once. She has a way of making her words slowly dig their tendrils in, coaxing you into her world with such ease and eloquence and depth, that by the end of it you’re left breathless and you don’t even know how she did it! I’ve figured it out: a Victoria Schwab book is like a serving of your favorite dessert. The kind you want to savor, slowly and reverently… and when it’s all gone, you’re still wishing for just one more bite.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing sequel! 5 Feb 2014
By dnae - Published on Amazon.com
“I am Mackenzie Bishop. I am a Keeper for the Archive and I am the one who goes bump in the night, not the one who slips. I am the girl of steel, and this is all a bad dream and I have to wake up. How many Keepers lose their minds?” (loc. 1905)

After the harrowing events that unfolded in the first book, Mackenzie finds herself dealing with PTSD, maintaining her Keeper job, and a new school. A turmoil of nightmares, blackouts and paranoia has Mackenzie feeling she’s been punted into the rabbit hole. People are disappearing and with the lines blurring between what’s real and what’s a dream, Mackenzie fights with trust and control. The source? The Archive.

“Keep your worlds apart, warned Da. Neat and even and solidly separate. But everything is messy now. My fear follows me into the Narrows. My nightmares follow me out.” (loc. 61)

I love how the book plays off of the PTSD that Mackenzie has after the scare with Owen. He haunts her dreams, her thoughts and her life. This not only puts in question her faith in others, but it questions the Archive’s faith in her. With the Archive in control of her, will Mackenzie regain control of her life? Can she find control over the Archive?
“The Archive teaches us to break our lives into pieces and to keep those pieces secret, separate.” (loc. 445)

Mackenzie is constantly reminded that the Archive owns a piece of her and I love how, in a round about way, she may find a way to own a piece of them. The author does a wonderful job of creating suspense and mystery in the plot by providing mistrust, multiple threats and obstacles for Mackenzie to deal with, all while creating room for character discovery and growth. I’ve also seen growth in Wesley’s character, as we see another side of him in his public lifestyle. I’m very much looking forward to what comes next for Mackenzie, because I’ve feel like through all she’s been through, she’s become enlightened and empowered. Will she keep her job? Will she make crew? When everything is said and done, will there even be an Archive? The wait to find out begins!

First Line: "My body begs for sleep." (loc. 13)
Last Line: "Maybe I am a bringer of change. But I'll decide what kind." (loc. 3804)


“Waiting for something to start is always worse than when it does.” (loc. 224)

“Da used to say mistakes were useless if you tried to forget them. You had to remember and learn.” (loc. 935)

“I never dream of monsters, not the kind with fangs or claws. I dream of people. Of bad people dropped into days and nights so simple and vivid that I never question if any of it’s real.” (loc. 1897)

“‘Change is coming,’ he says quietly. ‘Either the Archive will evolve or it will fall.’” (loc. 3516)
4.0 out of 5 stars creepy-cool sequel to Archived with Mac still the strong-willed and physically strong heroine now navigating prep school 5 Aug 2014
By kbirdlincoln - Published on Amazon.com
Worthy sequel to the Archived with action picking up after Mackenzie thinks she has said goodbye to her temporary partnership with Wesley (guyliner) after vanquishing her nemesis into the Void and now is off to ritzy prep school.

Surprises abound at the school; and along with terrible nightmares she has about Owen, complicated relationships at school, increasing pressure to clear up more and more Histories despite her homework, and mysterious disappearing people --all who have crossed Mac's path-- Agatha and other Librarians are on the warpath out to get her.

This book is much more about increasing social and Archive pressures on Mac, along with some of your mainstream YA angstying about cute guys paying attention to new girls (and various doubts about their intentions) as well as a bit of mystery whoddunit about the disappearing peoples.

I didn't like the all-out angry-badness of the Archive Librarians who are suspicious of Mac, and didn't feel like Bernard had a good reason to trust her as much as he did when she seemingly was going off her rocker and neglecting her duties, but these are minor quibbles. Still a creepy-cool tale with a strong heroine and jokester love interest.
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