The Unbound – 4/5
So, I recently read both of these books and fell in love!! I flew through the first one, and I had to get my hands on the second one to find out what happened next! Since I was planning on reading them back to back, I figured I could do a dual-review of the duology in one post 😉
Synopsis: Mackenzie Bishop is a Keeper of the Archive, where the dead are referred to as Histories. The Histories go to the Archive and are kept there, and Keepers help keep the Archive together by bringing Histories back if they ever awake from their sleep. Mackenzie Bishop was trained by her grandfather, known as Da, to take over as Keeper for him when he died. In the first book, we learn that Mackenzie lost her younger brother, Ben, which brings her family to a new town. Something strange is happening in the Archive, however, and Mackenzie has started to see it – but, can she help keep the Archive standing and not break the rules of the Archive, risking losing her memory?
First of all, Victoria Schwab is an incredible writer and thus, has created a beautifully haunting world. The concept that our stories (as they’re called “Histories”) are kept in the Archive and that they’re watched over is quite beautiful. I imagined the Archive as a beautiful and old library where the Histories are kept. The Librarians wear regal looking robes, as they watch over the Histories and help the Keepers protect the Archive. Then, there are the Narrows – where the Histories can escape to if they ever wake from their sleep – which yes, is just as eerie as it sounds. The Narrows – dark, long, and winding hallways with doors all along and spaces where Histories can hide before a Keeper finds them.
Overall, Victoria Schwab’s writing is stunning and captivating – she alternates between Mackenzie’s memories and present day experiences, which adds so much depth to Mackenzie. Being able to see Mackenzie’s memories helps to form our understanding of how she conceptualizes her present day experiences, and why she struggles in the way that she does in her role as a Keeper.
Along with Victoria Schwab’s incredible writing, she has woven some beautiful characters in these books. Mackenzie is a beautifully strong and real female protagonist – I believe she was created to be incredibly relatable in this fantastical world. You see her struggle with her own grieving process, while balancing her responsibility as one of the Keepers in the Archive. Mackenzie is full of compassion, curiosity, and spunk and I love her! 🙂 Wesley is another incredible character – he is a great balance for Mackenzie! Wesley appears a bit more scattered brain, but you see so much patience, kindness, and fight in him which leads you to believe that there is more to Wesley’s story than meets the eye. You start to see Wesley’s character unfold more in “The Unbound” which makes for a great read! 🙂 Owen is a fantastically complex and frightening character – which makes him so intriguing and captivating! 😀
Overall, these books were incredible! They have BOTH risen to the top of my favorite reads of the year! Victoria Schwab has done an incredible job in creating a captivating, fantastical world for young readers confronting real issues of death, grief, and loneliness. This duology is definitely one of the reasons why YA lit matters and the important lessons that authors can teach young readers. I know I had my first experience with death when my beloved aunt passed away when I was 17 and I definitely struggled through that. This is just so important to give young people the opportunity to process something that is so difficult, sometimes so big, and so large. So, thank you Victoria Schwab! 🙂
I am definitely going to be picking up more of Victoria Schwab’s writings, as she has completely gained my trust in her writing. I definitely encourage all of you to pick up these books if you haven’t done so yet! They’re incredible and you definitely will not be disappointed! 🙂