Wonderful YA Dark Fantasy/Sci-Fi

TheArchivedThe Archived (The Archived, #1)

by Victoria Schwab

I’m ashamed to say I read this book and forgot to write a review when it was fresh in my mind.   But, as I think back, all the elements of the story are still clear as a bell, even though I have probably read 50 books since this one.

The story contains a wonderful plot that combines the love of a child for her grandfather, the sorrow of losing that grandfather and then her younger brother, dealing with her mother’s inability to accept her brother’s loss and trying to handle her duties as a Keeper that were passed to her when her grandfather died.

Her grandfather was a Keeper, one of those charged with keeping the souls in the Archives, shelved similarly to books in a library, where they belong, retrieving new souls unable to get to the Archives the “normal” way and tracking down and returning souls who manage to get out of the Archives for any number of reasons, most of them not good.  She is too young to be a Keeper but that doesn’t seem to have stopped the power from descending to her from her grandfather when he passed away.  Even though he had been training her for several years, there is still a lot she does not know and she needs to learn fast!

After moving with her parents to an old residential hotel where her mother intends to open a coffee shop (can you say “geographical cure”?), she is even busier trying to keep up with her duties as her ability to “read” events of deaths that occurred in a certain place blossoms.  She meets a boy about her own age also living in this antique building, who is very different from most of the friends she just left behind, who seems to be showing up at the most interesting times.

The author’s description of the Keeper’s duties trying to corral souls who do not understand what has happened to them or who refuse to accept the fact that they have died are truly amazing and somewhat terrifying. This is a book I would recommend to teenage readers or adults with a liking for dark and mysterious doings.  I look forward to the next books in this series.











This review applies to the entire trilogy of the Dragoneers, not just the first book. The series is a really good YA trilogy, with real characters who have real foibles, dreams, fears, desires, unkind thoughts and everything else that comprises the range of human emotion. There are no “Mary Sues” in this saga. The female characters are smart, strong and emotional; the male characters are confused, brave, and scared. They are all elated at the bond they share with their dragons and absolutely terrified of the alien menace that reveals itself gradually through all three books. There is no “magic bullet” or “super-mage” that comes along to make an end to the devastating problems faced by all characters (not just the Royal Dragoneers). The solutions come along gradually with trial and error; various other entities decide to help or not as the story unfolds. I would definitely recommend this series (and the short stories that accompany it) for anyone whose teens/young adults are looking for something other than vampires, magical solutions, or werewolves but still want to read good fantasy.



I frequently read YA because I have a young niece (also a reader) and I like to be able to recommend books she would like, that are appropriate to her age and maturity level.

I found Lightmasters 13 to be a really fun romp from the perspective of a young girl who finds herself thrust into a situation far from her previous experience. Her grandparents, who take over her custody when her parents die, are great characters but Jessica is not familiar with them and their eccentricities or their small, insular town far different from her prior home. So Jessica has to learn to deal with her grandparents, a new school with schoolmates who, naturally, scorn this new, smart, unusual student, and the grief of her parents’ loss, all at the same time.

Jessica also discovers on her 13th birthday that she has been “blessed” with hereditary powers she was previously unaware of – that throw her for a huge loop.

This story of her receipt and acceptance of these powers, adaptation to their odd side effects, and the danger in which they place her is very fast-paced and highlights the slightly tongue-in-cheek angst and hyperactivity of a very young teenager whose journey to come to terms with just growing up is made even more difficult than normal by the additional complications of coming to terms with her powers.

I look forward to following Jessica’s journey as she explores her powers and the high-stress world of the much-anticipated high school “experience.”


STRANDED by Anne Bishop, Anthony Francis and James Alan Gardner

STRANDED by Anne Bishop, Anthony Francis and James Alan Gardner

Three thought-provoking, short stories of young people stranded in some manner in space.  Each story features situations that have to be dealt with by the teens/young adults who have been placed in charge of their lives in various ways, whether intentionally or not.

One is a “city-ship” from earth charged with atoning for the devastation visited on other species by humans, millennia in the past.  This takes the form of carefully seeding other planets with everything needed to establish a balanced ecology from single-celled creatures to large, animals and everything they need to survive, using advanced technology which the people of the ship can no longer create.  Each successive generation is trained to take over these tasks from the previous generation of adults… but technology can’t last forever and all things come to an end.

One is an exploration ship on which the adults and many young people were stricken with a terrible disease and died, leaving a bare few children and teenagers to operate the ship as they grow up and try to figure out how to deal with a closed society, lacking any helpful instructions or ideas, as the ship voyages on, looking for a port where they can find help.

One is the story of a teenage girl who awakens by herself in a medical facility with no idea how she got there or where the rest of the people have gone.  She must find her own way through the facility and try to find help, but encounters an unimaginable reality that she discovers is all too real and she, along with many other sleeping humans, are about to be destroyed by the human race because they are “infected” with an alien plague.

Three very different situations imagined by these excellent writers.  Each story is brilliantly written without condescending to the age group it showcases.  If you know a teenager who thinks “sci-fi” is for old fuddy-duddies, give them “Stranded” and see how the feel after they read it!  I definitely recommend this set of short stories to young adult and other readers who enjoy YA.

I was given a free copy of this work by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This will be posted on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, LibraryThing and my blog at http://www.museofhellreviews.wordpress.com.