ARC Review: The Unbound by Victoria Schwab

ARC Review: The Unbound by Victoria Schwab
ARC Review: The Unbound by Victoria Schwab

The Unbound

Written by Victoria Schwab
(Disney Hyperion - 1/28/2014)
Series: The Archived #2
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Format: eARC (368 pages)
Source: Blog Tour
Rating: 5 Stars

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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.
FTC Disclosure: This book was provided to me from the author or publisher (Blog Tour), free of charge, with the understanding that my intention is to read it and provide feedback in the form of an honest review. I am not compensated in any way in exchange for positive reviews, and I don’t let anything other than the book's contents affect my opinions and review.

My Thoughts

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 shit 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.

Read 14 comments

  1. I really loved this one too. I was shocked I liked it more than The Archived. Why does it surprise us when we love a Schwab book? I have that too and I can’t figure it out. So far, I’ve not read any of hers that I don’t really like. I’m so happy this one was a hit for you too. Now we just need to make sure another one can come about!

    • Wow, I’m so glad that I’m not alone in my feelings about this book and about her books in general! I really wonder it is that way. I think it must have something to do with how beautifully subtle, yet effective her writing is. Some books are just like IN OUR FACE, you know? But hers are much more gentle.

      I really, REALLY want there to be a third book. How can we make sure this happens?!

  2. The world-building in The Archived was one of my favourite things about it, so I’m so happy to hear that it continues and expands in The Unbound. It’s also nice to hear that you found yourself understanding Mac’s choices, since her decision to keep everything to herself in The Archived drove me crazy! Haha

    • Haha! Oh, I can’t wait for you to read this, so I can hear what you think of everything. Honestly, the emo characters who refuse to open up to anyone just DRIVE ME CRAZY, but in this book, I was able to relate to Mac SO WELL. I was really pleasantly surprised. :)

  3. I looooovvvveeedd this book sfm! I flailed my arms and that’s rare for a book to elicit that kind of response! When I think about how much I love the book, I AM OVERCOME WITH ALL THE ~FEELS.

    I just want to clutch all the characters to my chest! They are sooo wonderful, especially Mackenzie and WESLEYYYYY. <3 I totally agree with — “I found myself understand [Mackenzie] more than being frustrated with her.” Her PTSD is very real. I love that she’s completely not alright and grows increasingly reckless. And people (like Mackenzie’s parents) notice it and try to help her deal with it. I love it.

    That’s a perfect metaphor for any Victoria Schwab book. :D

    • lol! I love your enthusiasm, Cee! (That’s basically how I feel about the Lunar Chronicles books!) But yeah, I really loved Mac and Wes in this book. I thought that even their relationship — for the most part — was very realistic as well. I liked that they weren’t just obsessed with being together, but were actually focused on figuring out their own shit, you know? Although Wes did frustrate me at times!

  4. Oh I am sooo excited to get my hands on this! I am pretty sure I’m Victoria’s number one fan, and I loved THE ARCHIVED. I just ordered this from Amazon so it should arrive soon. I’m so happy it’s living up to the first book. Great review!

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