Review: The Unbound by Victoria Schwab

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4 out of 5 Bound Stars

I’m not really sure this is a full on 4 star, might be more like 3.75. This was my first read of this book – whereas I didn’t enjoy the 2nd read of the first one – am I making sense here? I re-read the first book, The Archived, before reading this one and though I enjoyed it, this one was better as far as the writing style. I still had worldbuilding issues from the first one, which affected my suspension of disbelief and getting caught up in the story, but I won’t rehash those here. If you want to see that review, look on my “All the Reviews” page under The Archived.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed this and read it in two sittings – the reread of the first book took a week. This was more engaging. I think it did an amazing job of showing Mackenzie’s trauma from what she’d gone through (crazed History  that was a former keeper trying to take down the Archive who almost killed her). I was drawn into her story for that reason – I felt so bad for her because there was no one she could talk to except Wesley…and he’s not there right then. He’s off with his family on a group honeymoon, and she is heading for a new private school. She’s haunted by nightmares and visions of Owen that she can’t tell from reality. Then the disappearances start.

People around Mackenzie start to go missing. Some of them are mere acquaintances, some of them are people with hardly any connection with her. Again, she doesn’t know if she’s imagining all this or not. She still has her doubts about the Archive, and I mean, who doesn’t. I don’t get it. I see no real purpose or way that the Archive would exist, could exist, or should exist. I see no purpose to the histories…. but. Two books got pubbed about it. I’m not that salty about it. I thought the writing was really good, but besides the believability of it, there were the same diary-like asides that took me out of the story.

What put me back in the story was the new school. Mackenzie begins to make some friends and frenemies but it really added to the story. Both that she had some friends, and still had that isolation, because it’s not like she can really talk to her friends. She has to live two lives, and that desire to NOT be two people makes her think more about the nature of the Archive. One of her new friend’s father is a detective working on the disappearances. Sadly, this gives her just enough information to get herself farther in trouble.

She’s being shadowed by the Archive and running afoul of some of the higher ups. She continues to put Roland between herself and them – and it made me question why he was so staunch in his belief of her. She does some things that go beyond what I personally would be willing to tolerate. There is also the matter of Agatha. She was presented in the text of the first book as a boogeyman of sorts. Then we met her and she seemed harsh, but fair. In this, she’s an unhinged psychopath. A couple of things I totally saw coming but other things I was intrigued by. The tension and danger was intense  – I did not see how she was going to get out of a few things – even at the end. I watched the pages on the right get thinner and thinner but didn’t see a way out, and I think that’s a good thing when you’re reading a book.

So it has its problems, but it’s so well written, the characters (most of them) are really good. I enjoyed the story and tore through it. So it’s not exactly a 4, it’s not a 3 either. It’s a very high 3.

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