by Victoria Schwab
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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.
“Open your eyes,” he warns.
I drag them open and find his face inches from mine. “Why?” I growl. “So I can see the truth?”
His smile sharpens. “No,” he says. “So I can watch the life go out of them.”
And then he drives the knife forward into my chest.
Well, well, well…..color me surprised. You see, I received an ARC after finishing book one of this series, so immediately after I chose to read it…before this one. Bad mistake, my dears-Because what happened was that I became so enraptured and awed by that complex, barbaric ARC, that when I finally came back to this precious piece of work, I wasn’t as interested or as in tune as I had been before. But then, about 50% through, the author knocked me upside the head and screamed in my face ‘PAY ATTENTION,’ and Wesley immediately came into focus-brilliant, funny, loveable, and witty Wesley. And we all lived happily ever after.
Nah, I’m screwin’ with ya. But the fact remains, about halfway through the book I started to wake up again and see why I fell in love with this world in the first place. That’s not to say that there weren’t reasons I had issues at the beginning, Ie unnecessary flashbacking (okay, I’m TOTES making that into a word, shut up) and, I can’t believe I’m saying this, high school attendance. See, I actually always love when the main characters go to school in a YA novel. It’s where all the flirting and jealousies and petty fights commence-GUILTY….I’m a YA drama whore-but in this book, I felt it took away from the beauty and magic that we felt in book one. At the beginning of it all, Wes and Mac met during the summer…so I would have liked for it to end during the summer. You know, all that free time to hunt histories and ghosties together? Alas, this was not meant to be, so at some point, I had to push my whiney shit aside and play the hand that was dealt to me. And guess what? When I did that, the story blew wide open.
“It’s all new to me, too, remember?” he says a few minutes later. “I’d never met another Keeper before you. And having you in my life is terrifying and addictive, and I’m not going to lie and tell you it doesn’t make my heart race. It does.” I wonder if he can feel my own pounding pulse through my noise as he tangles his fingers through mine. “But I’m here. No matter what happens with us, I’m here.”
I loved how much Wes showed he cared for Mac in this one. He always has, but there’s something adorable about him being out in the open about it and not caring that she’s trying to keep him at arm’s length. I know people got annoyed by Mac’s secrets and her not just letting Wesley in, but that is the agreement, life, and oath a Keeper takes on when they are welcomed into the Archive. In book one, we saw Mac hide everything from Wes, her family, etc, but that came with the territory, and I totally understood it. But in this one, she only kept secrets when necessary from Wes-she swore, after the life-altering events of book one, that she would never keep Wes in the dark, no matter how painful. And we see her struggle through the entirety of the novel with the burden of keeping him safe, keeping him away from the evil enveloping her, and what to include and not include of her sordid nightmares and illusions that blur between reality and dysfunction.
Music fills my head, strong and steady, and I look down to see Wesley’s hand wrapped around mine, his eyes bleary but open. He must misread the shock and fear in my eyes for the echoes of a nightmare-how I wish this were still a bad dream-because he doesn’t ask what’s wrong. Instead he climbs onto the bed beside me and rolls me in against him, his arms wrapped around my waist.
“I won’t let anyone hurt you,” he whispers sleepily into my hair.
The best part about our darling, Wesley? No matter how odd, how crazy, how off-the-wall weird Mac is acting or her situation is, he still stands by her side and believes everything she says. He is kind, understanding, and doesn’t let anyone walk all over Mackenzie-not even her parents. He would sacrifice himself and his time in a heartbeat…just to spend more time with her or to save her.
Wes hits the table. “You broke into a crime scene without me?”
“Be glad, Wes, or we both would have been caught.”
“We’re a team, Mac. You don’t go committing a crime without your partner in crime. Besides, if I’d been with you, we probably wouldn’t have been caught. I could have stood at the door and made wild bird sounds or something when the cops came back. And if we did get caught, our mug shots would look fabulous.”
Probably one of my other favorite things about this series is the action and…hmm…what’s the word…violence? No, for real, though, I think the correct term is bloody reality? I have no clue, ugh. My point is, this author doesn’t shy away from bashing someone’s head in or slicing and dicing and bringing the pain. I love that…if you don’t know me lol.
He’s not real, whispers another voice in my head. You’ve just lost it.
Cracked little head, echoes Sako.
Broken, whispers Owen.
Weak, adds Agatha.
So, you know, despite the disconnection, for me, in the beginning and the flashbacks (I HATE flashbacks), this book was stellar. Oh yeah, bringing that word back, too. I think my biggest problem with the flashbacks was the fact that they were cute Wes and Mac moments that I would have liked to have lived, myself. Why couldn’t we have just seen that firsthand? That’s all, really. Hardly a big deal-just a personal preference that I’ve always been wonky about. So, I really think this series is great for everyone, with fun characters, a new and original plot, and a love interest that will make you smile from ear to ear. But, don’t let me tell ya, pick it up for yourself…enjoy!