The Archived

Book review by
Julie A. Carlson, Common Sense Media
The Archived Book Poster Image
Imaginative fantasy mystery for teens tackles grief, death.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Archived explores what possibly happens to our bodies and our souls when we die. Readers will learn how various characters, including protagonist Mackenzie, deal with death and grief. Before  to the novel's opening, Mackenzie lost two important people in her life: her younger brother and her beloved grandfather, whom she affectionately refers to as "Da" in flashbacks. She holds both of their memories close. Her brother and her grandfather are a guiding force for her throughout the course of the novel. Mackenzie also learns the value of trust, honesty, and friendship.

Positive Messages

Grief and how we deal with it is an important theme in The Archived. Mackenze learns that we all grieve in our own way, as she sees how her mother copes with Ben's loss. Although, she pushes her parents away as she struggles with her own grief.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mackenzie Bishop is a strong heroine who loves her family, especially her late brother, Ben. She misses him terribly and will do anything to have him back in her life. She's independent and fiercely protective of her job as Keeper, and often relies on her grandfather's words of wisdom to keep going and push through even though she feels as if the world is crumbling around her. Mackenzie's grandfather, whom she calls "Da," passed his job as Keeper on to her and she wants to make him proud. Her love interest, Wesley, is kind, caring, and confident. He makes Mackenzie feel important and loved. Another positive role model is Roland, who works as a librarian in the Archive. He stands up for Mackenzie and also protects her.


There's heavy fighting in hand-to-hand combat and two people are stabbed. No one is killed,  and it's not scary or upsetting.


There's flirting and some mild but somewhat sexy kissing scenes.


Roland wears Converse sneakers, which are referred to as "Chucks."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Da smokes in the novel, which bothers Mackenzie, who questions why he smokes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Archived is a thrilling and highly imaginative novel that breaks away from the current trends of vampires, angels, witches, and zombies in young adult fantasy and paranormal books. The first in a two-part series featuring a likeable and heroic protagonist, it has mild violence, no swear words, brief kissing scenes, a swoon-worthy romance, and a fantastic mystery.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byNobuddy December 9, 2020

Who Edited This Book?

I'm so tired of poor grammar and spelling. Whoever edited this book did a bad job. I keep getting an ad on my phone advertising an excerpt of this book, an... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bytangledw March 17, 2021

Great Book, But a Little Dark

This book was amazing!!!! I loved it so much. There is only some mild kissing in it which is good. The only reason I said 12+ is because its a bit dark. To make... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byBooklover29 November 7, 2020


I absolutely adore this book by Victoria Swab. I’m a huge reader and I found this to be one of my new favorites. There is kissing, but nothing too bad. The char... Continue reading

What's the story?

In Victoria Schwab's novel, when people die their bodies go to a place known as the Archive -- a cross between a library and a morgue. Bodies are known as Histories. But for various reasons, they often wake and venture into the dark realm of the Narrows. As a Keeper, it's Mackenzie Bishop's job to put the Histories back into the Archive. Her deceased grandfather trained her for the role and has passed on his legacy as a Keeper to her. Not only is being a Keeper a dangerous job, but Mackenzie also cannot let her family or friends know she guards the dead. The grueling and often scary job forces her to question life, death, and immortality. While Mackenzie learns to cope with the grief of her grandfather's death, and most recently her brother's death, she discovers that someone is altering Histories and erasing their memories. Mackenzie must learn to rely on her wits and trust members of the Archive and a new friend, Wesley, to solve the mystery before the Archive is destroyed.

Is it any good?

THE ARCHIVED is fresh and original, a cut above the typical paranormal stories found on YA bookshelves. Filled with lyrical and haunting prose, likable characters, and dastardly villains, Victoria Schwab's novel will leave readers turning the pages late into the night and eagerly awaiting the second book in the series.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Have you ever had a family member, loved one or friend die? How did you cope with your grief?

  • Why do you think paranormal stories are so popular in young adult literature? 

  • What do you think happens to people when they die? If you knew there was a place like the Archive, would you want to visit someone you've lost?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

Themes & Topics

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