Cross-posted on Readerling
To be clear, I only read the 108 page sneak peak available on Netgalley, and not the whole novel. I'm unlikely to read the entire novel, not because this book is bad, but because I'm of a mind that most young adult fictions, especially paranormal fictions as sloppily built as this one, should be read in a sitting so you don't have time to tear it down. The teaser ended up being a flinch.
The idea here, in the abstract, is wonderful: people, upon death, are kept as recordings like books in an archive. But they have bodies like ghosts, like cordwood stacked. There's a grief-stricken girl, and a family that has moved to escape grief, and a nifty old hotel. I liked those parts. But the girl is also one of those precocious ingenues that I don't cotton to, who is talented beyond her experience. She is not the worst of these kind of characters, not by half, but when I put her sort of world-weary kvetching about responsibility alongside a magical system that makes zero sense once the flinch took, it just killed it for me.
Again, I am not saying this is bad by any stretch, and The Archived
could certainly tighten up and go somewhere in the end. The set-up, as I said, has some pretty great metaphorical possibilities, especially if you are a book nerd. And certainly, I have enjoyed many a book that had sloppy or silly paranormal systems, because the system is more framework for felt experience than it is some nerdily exact taxonomy. (Divergent
, for example.) Credible examination of grief, from what I saw, but also annoyingly naive for grouches like me. Sometimes young adult literature is more for young adults than us slumming grown-ups, which isn't really the fault of anyone.