"THE UNBOUND, An Archived Novel," by Victoria Schwab, Disney Hyperion, $16.99, 268 pages (f) (ages 14 and up)
In "The Unbound," the anticipated follow-up to Victoria Schwab's young adult novel "The Archived," the reader reunites with Mackenzie Bishop as she struggles to figure out her place in the Archive and in everyday life after her near-death experience with Owen, a History bent on taking down the Archive.
When people die, their bodies become Histories and are laid to rest in the Archive, a sort of library of the dead. But some become restless and try to leave, and as a Keeper, Mackenzie is tasked with keeping them in the Archive.
The Narrows, the hallways between the Archive and the living world, haunt Mackenzie with memories of manipulation and remind her of her weaknesses when all she wants to do is prove how strong she is.
"The Unbound" is a smart, original, haunting read that takes the reader on a journey as twisted as the halls of the Narrows. Through character disappearances and odd coincidences, Schwab turns the reader around so often it's hard to know whom to trust.
With new characters in the students in her new school in the living world and members of the Archive, Mackenzie finds herself growing closer to Wesley Ayers, her fellow Keeper, and her ever-present ally, Archive librarian Roland. These relationships are only the beginning of the limits Mackenzie will test and the trust she threatens to break.
Even Mackenzie's parents can only see the surface above the secrets she hides, and their relationship struggles as they are still grieving from the loss of their young son and assume Mackenzie is only doing the same.
With dreams filled with Owen and threats to her life, Mackenzie becomes an unreliable narrator as she fights sleep, only to find herself unable to decipher what is real and what is in her imagination.
With the underlying theme of revolution, Mackenzie is viewing her world through new eyes and finds herself wondering which side of the battle she should choose and how far she would go to defend the chosen side.
With a surprising ending that only hints at better things to come, Schwab's "The Unbound" is a page-turner.
"The Unbound," which is scheduled to be released Jan. 28, has minimal swearing and no sexual references.