Title: The Unbound
Author: Victoria Schwab (The 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.
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.
Last year’s The Archived was a surprise hit that started off a bit slowly – much like its sequel turned out to be. I was a little unsure at the beginning if I would enjoy The Unbound as much, but the further I got into it, the more I had to know what was going to happen and the end left me hoping for a sequel that unfortunately might now happen.
But first, the story actually being reviewed rather than possible future installments. Like I said, things kind of started off slowly, but much sooner than I remember in the first book, I found myself hooked and anxious to see what would happen next. I think Mackenzie grew on me a bit. She still annoyed and frustrated me at times, but most of the time I was rooting her on, whatever she was dealing with.
This book also (kind of) added a love triangle. I liked the guy who was introduced with this, but I kind of felt that it was added for a little drama in the middle of the book, rather than having a genuine purpose. I think the story could have worked just the same without it, so I was frustrated that it seemed to have been thrown in to add more romantic drama, but since I liked both guys, I wasn’t annoyed enough to get mad at it or anything. I was more apathetic, thinking “really, another love triangle? *sigh*” rather than “god, enough with the damn love triangles already!” So, yeah, I don’t know if a random love triangle will deter you, but I really hope it doesn’t because it’s such a small part of this book.
It’s funny – I knew that I was reading about teenagers and high schoolers and such, but for some reason, when this book actually took place during the school year and we saw some scenes at school, I was a bit surprised to see Mackenzie and Wes, her friend and love interest from the first book, in school. They just didn’t seem like they belonged, they seemed a little too old or too young or too… something, which made it weird for me to picture them in these normal high school scenes. It didn’t detract from the story for me or anything, but it was something I noticed as a bit weird for me.
Things get even worse and darker for poor Mackenzie than they were in the first book. There are some very uncomfortable scenes, even one involving self harm via a ghost (kind of – you’ll understand if you read it), so if you don’t like that kind of stuff, be warned. Because of the self harm and Mackenzie’s personality in general, her parents and authorities are concerned enough to get a therapist involved. Now, this led to one of my least favorite things in YA that I’ve been noticing a lot lately: therapists = the enemy. It’s very rare to see YA protagonists who don’t bash their therapist internally and even externally. Ruby Oliver has a good therapist relationship, but this one was more average, with Mackenzie getting overly frustrated with her. It gets better, but Mackenzie doesn’t change her thoughts about her mom’s therapist and seems to view her own as the exception rather than the rule, which just frustrated me.
Overall, though, I really enjoyed this book. The ending was definitely open-ended and even kind of implied a third (and final?) book, but I remember hearing that the publisher dropped the deal or never picked it up. However, there is a page on Goodreads for a third book, and the summary says that the author hopes to release it in any form possible, so maybe she’ll do self-publishing for the last book when she can fit it in? I really hope so, because I’d like to see at least a little more with Mackenzie and Wes (also, tiny pet peeve – the book switches from Wes to Wesley, sometimes in the same scene, with very little rhyme or reason).