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.
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.
I am extremely honored to participate in The Unbound blog tour! After I read The Archived, I became an instant fan of Victoria Schwab. I love all the characters and the world she creates.
Here are NINE TRUTHS FROM THE ARCHIVED SERIES —
I’m always saying that I keep my fiction fiction–I don’t insert people I know into my books. But these eight details were pulled from real life.
1. My mum, like Ms. Bishop, is a chef with illegible handwriting and a propensity to change course on a whim.
2. I share Mackenzie’s dislike/distrust of therapists after I was forced to go to one as a teenager for a medical issue they were convinced was psychological (they later discovered that no, it was medical).
3. I think all boys look better with guyliner.
4. Even though I can’t read the past in the objects I, like Mackenzie, am completely suspicious of hoarders. (Also, for a long time I considered making Ms. Angelli an escaped History who felt better surrounding herself with the histories of objects).
5. I am convinced that every object in the world is holding on to its stories.
6. I went to an elegant prep school much like Hyde, except it was all girls, not co-ed.
7. I was uprooted quite suddenly as a teen and dropped into a new city in a new state with no time to get my bearings or catch my breath.
8. The Coronado is based on a real hotel in St. Louis that was converted to apartments, though that one is not nearly as dilapidated, and it doesn’t have gargoyles (as far as I know).
9. I was a competitive fencer for five years, so was really excited to drop a nod to that sport (and its inherently elitist culture) into THE UNBOUND.
First sentence: “My body begs for sleep.”
Four words: FLAILING MY FUCKING ARMS.
Victoria Schwab does it again. The Unbound, the sequel to The Archived, exceeded all my expectations. I cannot function because it blew my heart and brain apart. About 85% of the time, weird noises emerged from my mouth because it was soo fucking good. The Unbound picks up in the fall when Mackenzie returns to school. She’s dealing with recurring nightmares of Owen (in her dreams and when she’s awake) as well as trying to figure out who is trying to frame her for the disappearance of people she encountered. I promise that it is better than my description ’cause y’know, I flailed my arms. That should tell you that you should read this to experience the awesomeness, right?
(If you haven’t read The Archived or my review for The Archived, do ittttttttt. The first book may be slow, but it’s worth it! GET THE ~FEELS. Also, in my review, I talk about my thoughts about the Archive and the character relationships, which I did not do for this review.)
- Mackenzie’s PTSD
Mackenzie can’t sleep because Owen haunts her dreams. She keeps recalling everything that occurred between her and Owen in The Archived, and keeps imagining that he’s back, taunting her with his knife. You can feel her fear. It’s completely real. At times, I feared for her (because of certain events). I don’t know how she manages to function, but in a sense, she doesn’t. She’s not alright. She grows extremely reckless as she tries to deal with her recurring nightmares and her PTSD. She’s more uneasy about her surroundings, especially the Narrows. She finds no comfort or thrill in it anymore. Who can blame her for acting like this, especially after what happened during the summer?
- Wesley Ayers aka Guyliner
This dude wins my heart. He officially achieved book boyfriend status (which is an incredibly big deal since I’ve only ever had just one) in this book. Imagine me with a grin on my face as I say, “I can’t with this dude” every time Wesley appears. I’m pretty sure I squealed in delight about 75 times too. He gets a really fangirly reaction from me. I can’t help it.
He’s an enigma. He has secrets and I want Mackenzie to pry it out of him! When he does the simplest things (like texting Mackenzie, caring about what she thinks of him, or just looking at her), I fall more and more in love with him. I find him to be ridiculously sweet (in the best way possible).
Who knew I would be into a guy who wears eyeliner? ;D
- The mystery
The gist of it is that people are disappearing and they all have a connection to Mackenzie. Is she the one making all these people disappear? Obviously not, but somebody is doing it because of her. Mackenzie has to deal with this and a load of other problems like Agatha who’s waiting for Mackenzie to make a mistake. I really love that the mystery wasn’t the main focus. The book is more character-driven and it shows. Also, can I just talk about how much I love how everything is resolved? Double crosses, trickery, fight scenes. Everything that I love. Perfectttt.
- Revolution vs Reform
I love the way the revolution vs reform discussion in Mackenzie’s Government class is compared to Owen and his agenda.
Mackenzie (and Owen) has [spoiler]two choices of what they can do with the Archive — 1. tearing it down, which is what Owen wants to do (revolution) or 2. reforming the system, which is what Mackenzie will most likely do. I love that getting rid of the Archive isn’t an option for Mackenzie. She wants to believe in it. She wants to make it better. [/spoiler] I find it absolutely fascinating.
- New friends for Mackenzie!
Granted, they are Wesley’s friends, but hey, Mackenzie deserves friendships with normal people, right? There’s Cassius Arthur Graham (aka Cash), who is the school ambassador and “likes” Mackenzie (if you know what I mean ;D); Amber Kinney, who likes to talk a lot and has a detective for a dad; Gavin, who reminds Mackenzie of her brother; and Safia, Cash’s bratty little sister.
I really love them. They are Wesley’s family (Amber even says this) and it’s great to see them have his back despite everything that might happen. They’ve been through it all with him. They are a welcoming and supportive bunch. They don’t see Mackenzie as an intruder. Yay for no pettiness.
- Her parents’ concern!
Because of certain things that happen with Mackenzie, her parents grow concern for her well-being and I loved seeing that. Sure, I did get a bit annoyed at their coddling (and at what her mother did), but they are her parents. That’s what they do. Although they don’t know the whole story of what’s going on with her, they know that something is wrong. And in her best interest, they take preventative measures to ensure that she’s not hurting herself. I love that they aren’t totally clueless and that they don’t fade into the background, ignoring the obvious signs for help.
I loved every little bit in The Unbound. I just wished there was more of these.
- Wesley Ayers.
You know my reasons. ;D
- The Archive politics
I feel like I still wasn’t seeing the full picture of the problems within the Archive (other than the way Agatha handled, or not handled, the Mackenzie situation). Also, we are introduced to one of the Board members and I want to see what other roles they play in the Archive.
- For Cash
At times, Cash and Wes felt sooo similar. Cash seemed to be a more preppy Wesley Ayers without the whole Keeper job. It’s not a bad thing, but it can be hard to differentiate between the two. I just wanted Cash to have a memorable personality that’s his own.
Where is she? Like The Archived, she appears briefly a couple of times. We don’t get to see her at all, which sucks. I would like to see their friendship in action and for Lindsey to play a bigger role in Mackenzie’s life. She’s the best friend and I just didn’t feel that.
I will say this: I love this book. Although the mystery isn’t as strong as I thought it would be, the characters and the whole Archive world makes up for it. I just want to hug everybody — Mackenzie, Wesley, Cash, Eric, Dallas. I wish I could put down everything I loved — the mystery, Hyde School, Eric + Sako, the hospital scene, Dallas McCormick, the resolution, the writing — but you gotta experience this book yourself (+ this review is already getting longer than I intended it to be).
Victoria Schwab, I would happily fight on the battlefield for you.