The Unbound by Victoria Schwab
The Unbound is the sequel to Victoria Schwab’s The Archived, which you should read before starting this book. There will be some spoilers for The Archived in this review, so beware.
Summer is over for Mackenzie Bishop, the Keeper whose secret job is to escort the “Histories” of dead people back to their resting place in the Archive. When we met Mac in The Archived, she had just moved into an old hotel in a new town and solved some murders that had occurred there decades ago. Also, she met Wesley, a spiky-haired eyeliner-wearing boy who turned out to have a lot more in common with her than she ever could have guessed.
Now Mac is starting school at an elite private institution chosen by her father, a college professor. She’s worried that it will be hard to fit in there, especially with all her secrets and clandestine activities. It’s not helping that she’s starting to have nightmares during class because she hasn’t been sleeping and she’s haunted by the frightening events that happened at the end of the previous book. She’s got some serious PTSD.
To make matters worse, Mac gradually starts to realize that people she has recently interacted with are disappearing without a trace and, as the clues accumulate, Mac comes under suspicion. It seems that her nightmares and the disappearances may be related.
From her parents’ perspective, it looks like Mac is becoming rebellious, untrustworthy, and mentally unstable, which leads them to try to curtail her activities and keep her under watch. It’ll be difficult for Mac to solve the mystery before she’s either grounded for life, in an asylum, in jail, or dead.
Thankfully, The Unbound (2014) is not your typical high school drama. There is some of that, as well as the requisite (but short-lived) love triangle, but mostly the kids at Mac’s new private school are amiable, mature, and willing to help Mac assimilate. As I mentioned in my review of The Archived, I like Schwab’s characters, especially Wesley (though I liked him better in the first book).
The part of the plot involving Mac’s nightmares and flashbacks goes on a little long, making this book move slower than The Archived, at least during the first half. I was ready for Mac’s pity-party to end and for the ass-kicking to start.
I had the same trouble with the plot of The Unbound that I had with The Archived. I just find it really hard to believe in the whole set-up of the Archive and the Library. It doesn’t make sense to me that the Archive so heartlessly requires Mac to do her Keeper job when it’s taking such a physical and emotional toll on her. I don’t understand why Mac is willing to comply when (1) her superiors at the Archive are not very trusting or helpful and (2) it’s so harmful to her relationship with her parents and (3) the whole Archive thing seems pointless. I was hoping that I’d feel different about the Archive in this second book, but I don’t. A third book, The Returned, is expected some time, but I don’t know when. I can take it or leave it.
Piper Goodeve, again, does a fabulous job with the narration of this series. Tantor Audio is the producer and The Unbound is 11 hours long.