The Unbound

Common Sense Media says

Romance, thrills as exciting fantasy series continues.





What parents need to know

Educational value

The Unbound aims to entertain more than to educate. 

Positive messages

The Unbound offers positive messages about the importance of friendship, family life, and first love. Also, sometimes we need to ask others for help when we're in a tough situation. 

Positive role models

Mackenzie is believably flawed: brash, smart-alecky, often leery of people, and prone to making assumptions. She keeps secrets from her parents, especially about the rigors of her job, which often leaves her with injuries in the wake of violent clashes. But she does want to help people and worries more about their safety than her own. Wes wants what's best for Mackenzie and his friends. Other positive teen role models and adults also appear. 


As in The Archived, The Unbound has plenty of violence: hand-to-hand combat, fighting with weapons, pushing, shoving, and chasing. Most of this occurs in the context of Mackenzie's battles with dark forces.


Mild flirting, teasing, a kiss, sleeping next to each other in the same bed. 


"Ass,"  "hell," "screw you." Some name-calling.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that THE UNBOUND, the second installment in The Archived series, has a strong heroine, an intriguing romantic love interest, and interesting side characters. Mackenzie Bishop continues her job of keeping the dead from escaping the Narrows, a limbo-like state between life and death. Now adults and young people are simply vanishing from the world of the living, and she wonders if she has anything to do with it. Along the way, there's some violence (hand-to-hand combat, fighting with weapons, pushing, shoving), mild flirting, a kiss, and minor swearing/crude language, such as "ass" and "hell." 

What's the story?

Amateur sleuth and "Keeper" Mackenzie Bishop is still haunted by the villain in The Archived, the series' first volume, as she moves to Hyde, a private high school. Making new friends and enemies along the way, she continues her budding romance with Wesley Ayers, a fellow Keeper, and gets involved in a bit of a love triangle. Not only does she have to deal with school, a boyfriend, and returning "Histories" (the dead) to the Archives, living people she knows also are starting to vanish -- and her recurring blackouts make her wonder if she's responsible for their disappearances. She's soon in a race against time, trying to discover what's happening to her friends and acquaintances before she gets the blame and loses her job, if not her life.

Is it any good?


Readers will enjoy the recurring and new characters, especially the students at Hyde, in THE UNBOUNDa solid follow-up to The ArchivedMackenzie's ongoing fear of Book 1's antagonist may seem excessive, but as with all elements of the story, there's a good reason for it that makes for fun reading. Readers will cheer this strong heroine, who finds her feelings for Wes tested by a love triangle. A fast-moving tale with exciting action and fighting scenes, The Unbound sets up the next book and leaves readers wanting more.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how stories depict the relationship between the dead and the living. Is it different depending on whether it's a horror story, a fantasy, a fairy tale, or a time-travel adventure?

  • If you were having blackouts, would you seek help from an adult or try to figure out a solution yourself?

  • When is it better to work together with other people, and when should you go it alone?

Book details

Author:Victoria Schwab
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Great boy role models, Great girl role models, High school
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:January 29, 2014
Number of pages:368
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 17
Available on:Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook

This review of The Unbound was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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