Saturday, March 1, 2014

Batty About The Archived by Victoria Schwab - Week Two

Batty About Books presents
The Archived
by Victoria Schwab

This week we tackled the first part of the book. In these pages, Victoria Schwab introduces us to the Archive and the people who work there as well as our main character, Mackenzie Bishop, AKA Mac.

If you missed it:
Week 1 - Cover Appeal

Here are my thoughts in blue (@thebrainlair) and Maria's (Maria's Melange, @mselke01) in purple.

Don't forget to head on over to Maria's Melange to see what she was thinking and my responses to her!

Week 2 - pg 1-110

This first part was all about the setup. I enjoyed learning about the Bishops, the Coronado, and how the The Archives work. I liked the way she used the text to cue us in to when we would read more about the Archive and how what Da taught Mac led us to the place we are in now. At first I thought we were just learning about the past, but when Mac looks back on when Ben died, we didn't get the change in font.
Maria: Oh, that’s perceptive! I didn't notice that - or at least that change. I did pick up on the different fonts, of course. I just didn't think about the difference in the types of memories. Neat!

The Writing
Schwab’s writing is beautiful. Even when not on an intentional hunt for quotes - I found myself pausing to re-read sentences and phrases. She has a way of making you slow down and pay attention to the story.
“The stairs run from the top floor down to the second, where they spill me out onto the landing...”

“The Narrows sigh around me as I enter, humid breath and words so far away they bled to sounds...”
Maria: Agreed! I had fun finding quotes to post on our page. Of course, around 50 pages in I got so sucked into the story that I had trouble slowing back down to pay attention to (or at least write down) quotes. I guess that’s a benefit to rereading a book, right? Ha! I only slowed down because I knew we were posting quotes! And doing this post!

SERVAMUS MEMORIAM (we protect the past)
I loved learning about the Archive and all it’s parts and people who keep it running. The Keepers, Crew, and Librarians. That it has branches. The Returns and the Narrows. The Doors. The cool archive paper where the keepers get their assignments. Roland whose “eyes are tinged with something between pain and longing...” I wonder how and why it all got started. Has it always existed? Why do Keepers choose to leave the fight and become Librarians? Why do Librarians need to have a longer lifespan?
Maria: Yes! I’m fascinated by Roland. I have a thing for this kind of librarian - he reminds me a bit of Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I wrote a note about the archive paper that Keepers use, but then didn't end up writing about that. I’m so glad you brought it up. I loved that detail. I’m also curious about this hidden world. Is it OUR world -- or a near future world where something has changed?

The Keepers
Mac - At first I wondered how old Mac was. She’s been through so much that sometimes she comes across as old. She has such a complicated relationship with her father and mother “I love you. The words taste’s the only thing I said that wasn't a lie.”  Why did Da choose Mac and not his son? What about her said - I can handle fighting and staying up all hours and keeping secrets? Also, sometimes it seems like her dad knows she is hiding something. Did he know what his father did? She calls reading the past her “talent”. Was she born with it? Or did Da bestow it on her?
Maria: I had a lot of questions about the family relationships, too. Dad seems almost ‘faint’. I wonder if Da considered choosing his son at some point? I know he talks about how his son wasn't a good choice for this calling. Mac does seem a lot older than the book makes her, but her lifestyle certainly had her grow up quickly. I also wrote some notes about teens and responsibilities. She is sure she is ready. Sometimes I think we overly hold on to the childhood of kids today beyond where THEY want to hold it. So hard to see them grow up! Even though it what’s you are trying to help them do! Such a conundrum!

Wesley - “I can’t tell if the eyeliner makes him attractive, or if he’s good-looking in spite of it.” Another Keeper! And he’s as young as Mac. He sounds like he has a different take on being Keeper. He makes it seem like a fun adventure! It appears he will be able to help Mac but what about his own territory?
Maria: I really like Wesley already. I like the fact that she has someone she can share her secrets with now. I wondered about his job as well. Maybe he lives in an area that isn’t very intensive… so he longs for more action and takes on jobs in other territories?

The Librarians (or as I like to call them - the brain lairs!)
So far we’ve met Patrick, Roland, Lisa, Elliot, Meredith, Allen, Carmen. They sound all hipster librarian with their cool glasses, gold fingernails, and Chuck Taylors. I love them. I am them. Without the hipster part. But definitely the chucks and nails.
My nails inspired by The Archive
Maria: I loved the red Chucks detail. I really hope we get to know more about these characters. Again, they definitely have a Watcher vibe for me. Maybe it was all those years of watching and reading Buffy. So, is the point I mention I’ve never seen Buffy? ::hangsheadinshame::   
The Histories
The Librarian have their own section in the Archives - The Special Collections. But everyone else is arranged - how? Mac can never find Ben on her own. To keep her moving forward I’m sure. And some of the histories escape the Archive and try to get home before they “slip”. Why are some so young again? Do grown ups never wake up? And where did Jackson get that knife?
Maria: I guess I made a few assumptions. One was that younger Keepers end up getting the responsibility of Returning the less dangerous Histories - and those tend to be the ones who died young. I assumed it was the Crew that takes on the older, more dangerous ones. I am curious about “slipping”... I’m still not clear on that.

This was a slow, but packed, beginning. Full of everything and everybody. We were introduced to many people and several places. All within 110 pages! We know about the family and how people are connected. We’ve met some of the people who live in the Coronado and some who work in the Archives. We’ve also been introduced to a mystery! A lot has happened and I’m left with so many questions!

Maria: What a cliffhanger, too! I’m ready to move on and find out what happens next!

Don't forget you can head over to:

We will continue to post quotes and talk about the book throughout the week in those places. Stop back here on Saturday, March 8th when we discuss part 2 pgs 111-224!


  1. Ah hah, a Slicer who blogs about books. I like a good book review almost (almost underline and italicized) as much as a great book. I read NYTimes book review with the satisfaction of people who read novels everyday.

    Confessions of one who hasn't finished Newkirks, The Art of Slow Reading. And who nailed the thesis of The Shallows - What the internet is doing to our brains from Nicolas Carr, but whose mind reaches increasingly horizontally and seems not to have the vertical depth to read his quietly argued, well-researched message. I teach, design presentations, write and ruminate more than I read.

    Like you, I love beautiful language in a book. I can live in a great youth fiction or adult novel, mourning the ending because I will miss the characters.

    Unlike you, with your romp of a reading life (I enjoyed your metaphor so I'm using it) I drift aimlessly until I bump into the next read.
    Like you and your hipster librarian readers, I am thrilled by the author or reader of an audio book whose voice and characterization makes me long to hear the next read. Hillary Mantel's narrator, Simon Vance, was splendid. And even though I know Thomas Cromwell gets in in the 3rd of the series, I want to hear that book.

    Thank you for your lively inspirations to read!

  2. Librarians: Can I tell you how much I LOVE that they were once Keepers, who helped lost souls (Histories) back to where they belonged AND that they kicked ass when things got rough? Go, badass librarians! Maria, I have to say, though, that for me, Roland is the David Tennant Doctor Who all the way: tall, slim, easy grin, red Chucks, "on the verge of winking when he speaks."

  3. Wesley: I keep thinking that maybe he was sent by the librarians to "watch" Mac because she is so haunted by her brother's death that she might get distracted or choose to do something drastic. So maybe she is his "territory." Also, I would love to see them get together as Crew, but I am kind of hoping they don't end up together romantically. In fact, I would go so far as to say it would be refreshing if they don't.

  4. I wonder if the older "Histories" don't wake up because they lived a full life. There isn't a sense of unfinished business for them as there would be for a young person who died before having a full life experience.


Thanks for chatting! I love comments and look forward to reading yours! I may not reply right away, but I am listening! Keep reading and don't forget to be awesome!


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