4.5"The only way to truly record a person is not in words, not in still frames, but in bone and skin and memory."The Archived is not a perfect book but with a concept as utterly original as this, who cares about imperfections??A library of the dead.A million interleaving hallways lined with shelves.Bodies in place of books.A record of every minute lived.How spooky fascinating!I was hooked the minute I read the blurb, and every chapter only added to the intrigue. I loved everything this book had to offer – and it has a lot to offer.Schwab does a brilliant job at world-building, bringing the Archive to life (no pun intended). Everything about the Archive is shrouded in mystery - an enigma, that slowly reels you in and leaves you mesmerized. The more you learn about the place, the more you want to learn.The supernatural element might grab your attention at first but it's the emotional aspect of the story that truly shines. How do you let go of the people you've lost when you are closer to them than you are to the living? How do you convince yourself that the little boy you see is not really your brother but just an echo who looks like him? A container for memories - only to be read, never to be awakened?There's no dearth of grieving protagonists in YA but there's something very muted about Mackenzie's sorrow that makes it stand out somehow. Her fractured family and buttoned-up desperation resonated with me deeply, maybe because it hit a little too close to home.There's also a murder mystery to keep you guessing (I know it sounds too much but it works) and a touch of romance (again, very subtle and authentic) so the sad stuff doesn't get overwhelming.The characterization is spot-on too. Every character felt genuine - like the kind of people you know in real life. I loved the occasional flashbacks about Da, Mackenzie's grandfather, and his many words of wisdom. I loved the old-world feel of the Coronado. I loved Wes and his wry sense of humor.I just loved this book.I have not read Victoria Schwab's much-gushed-about debut The Near Witch, but if it's anything like The Archived then I'll have to check it out real soon.