Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Unbound by Victoria Schwab

The Unbound
by Victoria Schwab
Read: January 12 - 17, 2014
Published: January 28, 2014 by Hyperion
Source: Purchase
Category: YA, Fantasy 
Series: The Archived #2
Find: Goodreads | Amazon

NOTE: The Unbound is the second book in a series. See my thoughts on The ArchivedHERE. I haven't included any major spoilers for the first book below, though minor information may be present. If you're new to this series, make sure to read the italicized descriptive copy to the right of the cover. But skip the rest of the official description. 

Official description: 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. (From Goodreads)

The Walls between worlds used to feel like they were made of stone--heavy and impenetrable. These days, they feel too thin. The secrets, and monsters bleed through, ruining the clean lines.

The Unbound is filled with beautiful words and a gorgeous imagery, two of the elements I loved most about the first book in this series. The Archived took place entirely in the Archive and Coronado (the old hotel turned apartment complex where MacKenzie Bishop has recently moved with her parents), giving the book a timeless quality. The Unbound, on the other hand, sets Mac out in the world of high school. I really enjoyed the difference this new setting brought to the story, as we see Mac navigate school work, boys (but no triangles!), jealousy and new friends, while maintaining her role as a Keeper. With this shift in setting, and the new experiences it brings to Mac's life, Victoria Schwab has written a sequel that feels fresh, while also maintaining its forward momentum. 

If school drama was all Mac had to deal with, things would be much simpler for her. Instead, she's plagued by constant nightmares and is barely sleeping at night. She also discovers that a series of strange disappearances may be connected to her. On top of all of that, her parents are beginning to clue in that something isn't right with her, which is a problem because they don't know anything at all about Mac's Archive life. Mac feels like her life is unraveling, and she's determined to stop it before she loses her mind, or her memories are taken away by an overcautious Archive. 

In The Unbound, we also get to see a new side of guyliner wearing Wesley Ayers. The scene where he first shows up in this book is definitely one of my favorites. This installment manages to address his air of mystery, which he wears like a shield, while still keeping many of his secrets. It was an intriguing combination, but it parallels well to Mac's hidden depths, and the struggle she also has to open up to others. In many ways, Wes is also more open than Mac, and they compliment and challenge each other well. Wes' chemistry with Mac increases in intensity in this book, though their relationship builds slowly. But that all makes it more delicious. They have some wonderfully subtle moments that are filled with heat. Thankfully, the story doesn't ever go into the angsty side of things. 

Mac drove me crazy in The Archived with her Not Telling Anyone Anything. In this installment, I was pleasantly surprised that Mac (mostly) tries to be honest with  those that she can - Wesley and Roland, especially. Of course she's very limited in what she can tell her parents, and that causes numerous problems. But though Mac still keeps a lot inside, because of who she is and how she naturally copes with life, thankfully, the plot conflict doesn't arise because of what she doesn't say. At one point, I did get worried that Mac would revert to her old habits. And I wish she'd trusted as much as she asked for trust, but she does pull through. I loved seeing her determination and resolve by the end of this book. 

The Unbound managed to surprise me in several places, and it definitely increases the intensity and the danger that Mac is battling, both inside and outside of her mind. But I also really enjoyed seeing Mac begin to reconcile her Archive self with her Outer world self. Mac's connection to her beloved grandfather Da is just as strong, and is again seen in brief flashbacks that worked well in the text. But Mac also starts to think a bit more critically about how Da saw the world,  and consider that maybe he wasn't right about everything. She doesn't love him less, but her maturity is seen in the way she's able to still care about him, while also thinking differently from him.

The Unbound is a strong sequel that manages to include all the elements I was hoping it would contain, while also surprising and wowing me along the way. I was able to connect emotionally with Mac much more strongly than I did when I read the first book. And who can go wrong with a boy who wears guyliner? The story ends in a settled place, resolving the present conflict, while also giving the reader a good sense of where the third book is likely to go. However, author Victoria Schwab has said the future of the series is uncertain, at least with its current publisher. Go HERE for more information and please support these marvelous books!    

Love Triangle Factor: None. More than one person expresses interest in Mac, and I got worried for a minute that she would start waffling, but nothing develops, and she stays true to her path. 
Cliffhanger Scale: Low. Book two ends giving a good sense of where the third book could go - including unraveling the full mystery of Wesley Ayers - but this story stops in a settled place. 


  1. I was wary of starting this series because of the prominent love triangle in The Archived but knowing that this sequel doesn't have one and also doesn't feature a cliffhanger has me excited to pick these books up soon. I love a strong sequel, so hopefully this is going to be a very memorable series. Lovely review, Lauren - and thanks for no spoilers! You're always so good about that. :)

  2. Amen for no LTOD (Love Triangle of Doom, of course) -- stick to your course, Mac! I haven't read the first one in this series but it's been on my list...your review makes me need to read it (not want. Need.).

  3. "Mac drove me crazy in The Archived with her Not Telling Anyone Anything."

    I HATE that in books Lauren! It's one of my biggest pet peeves and always drives me crazy. I just want to yell at the characters to give communication a try, it tends to help things get sorted out:) Glad to know Mac works on that in this second book, and is honest with a select few people. So excited that this book doesn't end in a cliffhanger either, despite there being a third book on the way. So refreshing:)

  4. I follow Victoria on Twitter, and she always has something thoughtful to say, if not that, then something wildly entertaining. She comes across as a genuine and sweet person. With that said, I don't know why I haven't picked up any of her books yet. It's a shame I haven't, especially with the uncertainty of a third and final installment to this series. My heart breaks for her and her adoring fans. Knowing that you're behind Victoria 100%, makes my decision to purchase the two books in this series easy. Thanks for putting the word out. Wonderful review, Lauren! :)

    Marlene @ The Flyleaf Review

  5. I was on the fence about reading this one, but I think I will try it given that it's such a strong sequel, with an increase in the intensity and danger. That sounds good. To be honest, though, I barely remember the first one, so I'm probably going to have to reread it. *sigh* I really can't keep up with all of these series. Great review! ~Pam

  6. I had the same issue with Mac in The Archived - I just wanted her to be honest with the people she could be honest with! So it's nice to hear that she's grown a little in The Unbound. I'll be interested to see how a different setting affects her, and I'm definitely excited to learn more about the mysterious Wes!

  7. I hate that the future of this series is so uncertain...makes me want to go out and buy all the books to drum up sales so that we are sure to get the third book. I need more Wesley and his guyliner. =) Fantastic review...I was glad to see Mac open up more, too, instead of keeping everything to herself as she did in the first book. So happy for such a strong sequel, but I shouldn't expect anything less from Schwab. I just finished Vicious, and it was pretty awesome, as well.


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