In Complex 441, the most feared punishment of all is to be made an Archivist, and be sentenced to read the journals of those who came before—before the Loss, before the holes appeared in people’s memories and the cities vanished. But an Archivist doesn’t simply read the journals—he re-lives the events written down inside. His own memories are slowly replaced by those of the Recorder, and the Archivist becomes a different person—if he doesn’t go insane first.
When Michael Driftveil, a petty thief, is sentenced to become an Archivist, he is sure there is some mistake. He’s given a harsh 64-year term, reading the journals of an eleven-year-old boy named Johnny, who survived in an underground bunker during the Loss. But the more he reads, the more he learns that the world he thought he knew is not as it seems. The government who sentenced him, who sentenced all the Archivists, is using him. It’s after information. Powerful information. Information that could change everything.
Now Michael must escape, must find a way to stop the government’s dangerous plan.
And he must do it before his own memories are gone.
I think the book looks interesting enough to buy based on the cover. I wasn’t sure I was going to like the book based on the description though. I was wrong. The book was very engrossing. The book is set in a dystopian future. It opens with Michael (our main character) being sentenced to become an Archivist. You know this is terrible, because how much Michael is arguing about how his crime (theft) was small and that this must be a mistake. They say there is no mistake and implant his forearm with a large metal plate that says Archivist. The details in the book are amazing. I love how you can really picture the place they live in the Republic, and the bunker where Michael is sentenced, even his oozing arm from the implanted plate. So good! We find out that Archivists are required to read journals left by people in the before. But they don’t just read them, they are connected to a machine, where a painful procedure transforms the words into reality for the reader. Eventually you will lose all of yourself, and become the person you are reading about, and thus be “rehabilitated.” Michael is assigned to read the journals of Johnny who was one of the children who lived in the bunker in the before. The biggest problem with getting assigned Johnny, is that he wrote every day for 64 years!! I love how the book switches from present day Michael’s point of view, to the past with (starting at 11 years old) Johnny’s point of view. You get to really see how Michael’s world came to be as it is. The book is full of suffering, and an overall sense of depression, based on both the main characters circumstances, but the plot keeps building and there is so much suspense as you start to learn how the two people are connected. It is so good! I normally don’t wish for books to be sequels, but I would like to keep reading about this world and what is going to happen next (yes, there is a bit of a cliffhanger.) You can really connect with the characters because each of them have very well-developed personalities.