Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Guest blog: New teen fiction

What if, after death, a person’s life experiences were recorded, stored, maintained and accessed by librarians in a huge repository called The Archive? How would the knowledge of this affect how you lived your life? And what would happen if one of these Histories made it back into what we think of as the “real” world? These are some of the intriguing questions explored in Victoria Schwab’s The Archived.

Mackenzie Bishop seems like a typical 16-year-old, but she has a secret. For years, Da, her grandfather, trained Mackenzie to be a Keeper. A Keeper must patrol a world of perpetual twilight known as The Narrows, searching for Histories that have escaped The Archive, and return them before they can escape into The Outer (the real world). Before he died four years ago, Da appointed Mackenzie as his successor at The Archive, making her the youngest Keeper on record. In spite of her age, Mackenzie is good at her job and equally good at keeping these responsibilities a secret from everyone she knows, including her parents.

Last year, Mackenzie’s younger brother Ben was killed when he was hit by a car on his way to school. In an attempt to distance themselves from Ben’s loss, her parents have uprooted the family and moved into The Coronado, an historic old hotel converted into apartments. Shortly after moving in, Mackenzie discovers that the building was the location of several mysterious deaths, about which little is known. In addition, as soon as Mackenzie and her family move into their new apartment, activity in The Narrows increases dramatically. Something about The Coronado is affecting The Archive, and Mackenzie is determined to discover who or what it is.

In The Archived, Victoria Schwab creates an intriguing and compelling mystery/thriller combined with an interesting vision of a possible afterlife where the life experiences of the dead are kept and preserved. The writing is strong, and the characters are individual and believable. The Archive, as described by Schwab, may result in readers examining and exploring their own ideas of what it means to live a full life, how they react to the deaths of others, and issues about their own mortality.

The Archived is the first in a new series. The next book, The Unbound, is due out in early 2014!

Reviewed by Daryl M., reference librarian

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