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. Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was: a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often-violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive. Being a Keeper isn't just dangerous-it's a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da's death was hard enough, but now that her little brother is gone too, Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.
Victoria Schwab is a genius. There is just no other word for it. I bought this one because 1) Victoria Schwab and 2) it was on sale and 3) a library full of dead people! This premise was incredibly original and dark and Schwab definitely did it justice. First of all, the dead people basically sometimes escape and wander these dark hallways. Then the Keepers (i.e. people like MacKenzie) find them in these creepy and dark hallways (the Narrows) and send them back on their way to the Archives. There are Librarians in charge of the dead people Archives (how cool would THAT library job be??) and there are Crew members in charge of finding any dead people (also known as Histories) who somehow make their way into the Outer (also known as the regular world). Oh, and Mackenzie has to wear this special ring at all times because she can read memories of things or people that she touches. Reading people's energies and their memories and all their feelings can be crazy exhausting. It was so creepy and dark and twisted and I LOVED it.
The characters were awesome. Mackenzie is a total bad ass who became a Keeper at twelve years old, which is about four years earlier than they normally are allowed to because . . . obviously. She's awesome. The book goes between the present and the past when her grandfather actually recruited her to become a Keeper. Mackenzie is mourning the loss of her grandfather and her younger brother, so she has a few issues with the dead and the whole issue of their bodies returning. Not only is she grieving, but she has to lie to EVERYONE about her disappearances and her bruises. It is such a lonely life. I loved her parents. Everyone is still so devastated over Ben's death and her mom seems like a realistic portrayal of a grieving mother. She is overwhelmed with her own feelings her grief can sometimes blind her to what's going on with Mackenzie, but she obviously loves her daughter and is concerned about her. Same with Mackenzie's dad. It's nice to see a realistic family with real problems (aside from the whole daughter being a Keeper thing) instead of the typical YA abusive and neglectful parents.
It SEEMS like there is a love triangle here, but it still doesn't really feel like one. There is Owen, who is tortured and in the Narrows and Mackenzie is trying to figure out who he is and why he's there. Even though there is a little romance between the two of them, it's obvious that Mackenzie is using him for an escape. She is still grieving after all and she is just so tired of all the secrets and lies. And then there's Wesley, who is adorable and charming and they have CRAZY chemistry. Mackenzie and Wesley are such a slow burn that I LOVED it. The best part is there was NO insta-love. And the second best part was that there were twists with BOTH boys and they kind of left my head spinning.
The ONLY negative about this book was that it started a bit slow. But as you can see, I still had no choice but to give this one five stars. Once it picked up speed, there were so many twists and turns and so much creepiness and I absolutely loved the entire plot and all the characters. And now, I MUST have the sequel NOW!!!
Buy/Borrow/Skip: Buy it NOW!!