The Binding

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 16 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

I loved the concept, the plotting, and the romance of this book. I hated that all the women in the book were just there to provide impetus for the actions and development of the men—particularly that their trauma and abuse was used in this way while so little personailty, agency, or characterization was given to them.
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As a librarian, a world in which books are forbidden is my greatest nightmare. A compelling case could be made here from the power of the written word, and while magic doesn't exist in our world, evil certainly looks to limit our perspectives, to put us in boxes and set us against one another. This book reminded me once again of the power of books, to educate, illuminate, and connect us to the stories of others, and the stories of ourselves.
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3.5 stars.
There were things that I absolutely adored about this a pseudo-gothic romance, steeped in magical realism and rigid class structures. I loved the concept of removing a person's memories and binding them into a book, to be retrieved later, and I loved that the implications of that practice were quite well-thought-out by the author: book/memory theft, a thriving trade in recreational memory consumption, erasure of victims and witnesses to bad deeds. And did I want Emmett and Lucian to get together? Oh yes, YES! What a riveting star-crossed romance!

But I also had some big problems with this book. First off, the way that the narrative literally sidelines Emmett's sister disturbs me, as does her reaction to being sidelined. It's a case of a boys' love story happening at the expense of a girl, and the girl reacting with OTT fury. I'm not saying her reaction was unrealistic; I'm just disturbed that the author resorted to this kind of sexism trope, which basically makes the female character come off as super terrible.

Also, the "books" which drew me (and probably many other readers) to this were more or less incidental. If you replace them with, like, glass vials that contain memories a la Harry Potter, you would basically get the exact same thing. I was hoping that books as objects and bookbinding as an action would get a little more focus. The author did try to insert love of books and reading at times, but this was most often in the context of rich bad guys' beautiful libraries, which only conflates bibliophiles with bad guys. Nobody else ever likes or reads books, for fear that they're not the regular "non-memory" kind, and I don't recall this ever being explained. Weird.
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Creative and entertaining read. A little creepy for the younger set, perhaps. That is to be left to the parents discretion, I suppose.
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What a terrific premise for a novel!  I was immediately captivated when I first heard of it. Imagine. A person who can erase your, pain, your sadness, the horrible and traumatic memories in your life. A Binder who collects your memories and keeps then safely in a book that no one else can read.

Collins writing is topnotch and to be savored. She quickly creates a believable world, filled with mysteries and secrets to be unraveled. I love her use of words. There are sections that are spellbinding (no pun intended) and magical, transporting you to a new world. I am grateful to HarperCollins and NetGalley for sharing this ARC with me in exchange for a objective review.

Born to an impoverished farmer and his wife who barely scrape by,  frail  and fragile Emmett  struggles to work in the fields along with his sister. When a strange letter arrives summoning him away from his family, his father and mother are resolute in their decision that he must go.  He begins an apprenticeship as a bookbinder with an old woman who lives in the woods—a vocation that arouses fear, superstition, and prejudice among their small community, but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse. 

So far, so good. The three individual narratives (the book is divided into three sections) allows Collins to explore the many faces of love; rights of personal privacy; the exploitation of the poor by the rich; and how quickly the system is corrupted and manipulated by those who find pleasure in other people's pain, or who find ways to use memories to make money.  Had Collins stayed on this track and fully explored these themes this would have been a great novel.  Sadly, she didn't. Emmett discovers and reads his bound book (which he was unaware of its existence) and the book quickly takes U-turn into a very different story in Parts 2 and 3. for me

I know that The Binder has received extraordinary reviews and readers love it. For me, I believe the author lost a opportunity to write something unforgettable and, instead, went for a book that would have a stronger appeal to a contemporary young audience. In that, she succeeded.
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Wonderfully gritty. There seem to be any number of titles exploring the potential mystery of the book and the story-- we've gone back to Narnia and reinvented it a little bit. I love that this title is exploring the art of bookbinding while also allowing the character to grow into the mystery that is his art and craft.
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The premise had potential but the execution was a disappointment. I was excited for this book as I tend to be about most books about books, and the fantasy elements of book binding had me like OHHH YES, I'M READY.

In this world, books are a bit taboo. Book binders are born with the magic of binding other people's memories into a book, and in doing so erases them from memory so long as the book remains intact. A proper Binder uses their gift to remove harmful memories at the individual's discretion, whereas corrupt Binders work for shady upper class scum who want to cover up nefarious acts and the like. I LOVE this concept but guess which group we focus our attention on for like, the whole book? Yep, lots of annoying drama.

I suppose I expected a fantasy? Aside from the book binding, there are no other fantastical or magical elements to this world. If the story had focused on the binding in a more interesting way I would have enjoyed it much more, though as it happens that wasn't really the case. To top off my disappointment, most of the characters and subplots were extremely unlikable and uncomfortable. I'm talking running themes involving multiple rapes, homophobia and internalized homophobia, and sexual infidelity in regards to closeted queerness.

I had issues with said themes. Obviously. They not only made me uncomfortable, their execution posed harmful messages. I know, I know, you're probably thinking something like "The opposite was intended!", and I do agree with that. However, tone is not as important as action, and the action or lack thereof was upsetting to say the least. Write queer stories without hinging on homophobic drama that hurts your gays, please!, I scream into the universe. I also find it difficult to feel sympathy for characters who verbalize that they are against something, yet take little to no action. They just...exist there in a state of disagreement, and then have the gall to act like what they did was good enough; personal pet peeve of mine.

The story just draaaaags on forever. There are three parts. Part One throws us in the middle of the story, although we don't know that yet, and to be quite honest it's pretty boring. I wish it had sped up and got in on some action but we kind of just meander through. Part Two was easily the most interesting section of the book because of the surprise m/m romance, but again, we meander through most of it. Talk about a slow burn. Part Three was just depressing. The whole book was depressing, really, but what was supposed to be a happy ending felt rushed and awkward for me, and I ended up not caring about the two main characters or their love story.

Did I like this book? There were some good things. Aside from the interesting use of magic, I enjoyed the authors attention to detail, which helped breathe life into the story. I love writing that plays on the senses, I love detailed visuals, and this story was filled with them. This is likely a good book for those who don't mind depressing stories, although I am someone who would rather not have the whole tone of a book be depressing, so that along with a few other issues cut down on my enjoyment big time. If you like the prospects of book binding magic, a m/m Pride & Prejudice-ish sort of romance in a historical fiction setting, then you may really enjoy reading this.

Content Warnings for mention of multiple rapes, illness, abandonment, house fires, violence, death of an infant, homophobia and internalized homophobia, family estrangement, suicide, sexual harassment in the workplace, kidnapping, sexual infidelity, homelessness, multiple instances of prejudices against sex workers, prostitution, drowning, home invasion, alcoholism, queer fetishism, sexual assault. ♡
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In Collin's adult fantasy debut novel, The Binding, books are dangerous things in an  alternate Victorian England. People visit to rid themselves of painful or treacherous memories. Once their stories have been told and are bound between the pages of a book, the slate is wiped clean for the individual and their memories lose the power to hurt or haunt them. After having suffered some sort of mental collapse and no longer able to keep up with his farm chores, Emmett Farmer is sent to the workshop of Seredith, a binder, to live and work as her apprentice. 

  As you can imagine there are those who exploit the binders market to their own purposes. Among them is Mr. de Havilland, Seredith’s son, who, after her suspicious death, appropriates her stock of secret bindings, which, like loaded guns, will make explosive appearances later. He also takes charge of Emmett. 

  The middle section of the novel changes from a third person to Emmett's point of view as Emmett eventually discovers there is a book with his name on it, and it holds an essential secret about him. Emmett is back on the farm with his parents and his sister, Alta. In this flashback we learn the source of Emmett’s ailment and also his connection to the Lord Lucian Darnay as the two have a forbidden romance. Except for the fact that a corrupt binder’s wares play a role, the concluding section, told from Lucian’s point of view, presents a mostly fact-based dystopia of Victorian aristocracy and its excesses. The romance is slow burn and sweet, but it is tragically cut short.

 While I would have loved to explore this alternative Victorian a bit more, I did like Emmett and Lucian as characters. There were a few plot threads that are fully discussed such as Lucian's vial and predatory father and the backstory of Mr. de Havilland. The worldview of this novel is bleak, but the ending is hopeful. This a unique blend of historical fiction, dystopian, mystery, and romance.
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I received an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

While I received an advanced digital copy, I listened to the audiobook. The narrator's accent was a little hard to understand at times. That is really my only complaint. 

This book was incredible! I haven't before come across so unique a storyline. The first part really got me thinking about how an author must feel like they bind themselves to all the books they write. The writing was extremely vivid. There was an intensity and magical aura throughout. The second part really shifted the perspective. It was a beautiful tactic by the author to have the three separate parts, each focusing on a specific narrative. The way Collins wove the story to a close was impressive. A must read!
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The story of binding ones memories is an interesting idea and I thought I’d enjoy that. The first part of the story was very good but the second two parts were not what I had hoped they would be. Not sure I would recommend this.
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Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishing for my eARC of this title.

The Binding offers an exceptional premise: If memories could be sucked out and put to pages, what would you choose to forget?  Would you want to buy and sell memories of ghosts, or venture into the illegal trade of the memories of the still living?

Emmett Farmer is a young man with a calling.  He is meant to be a binder, someone who extracts memories by immortalizing them onto pages.  He has come down with an illness that can only be cured by following his destiny and becoming and apprentice to a binder.  In doing so, he begins to understand just how much binders can be needed, but can also be cruel with what they do with the poison they suck from their clients wounds.  Secrets and sins that could destroy lives if put in the wrong hands.

Lucien Darnay is a well to do young gentleman who has been sent to live with his uncle for a while.  He meets some of the neighboring folk and grows close to the family.  He is welcomed in by the parents of an adolescent boy and girl and weaves his way into the family after the daughter has expressed interest in becoming betrothed.  Darnay is seen later, dealing with the terrible person his father is and what his life could look like in the future if he chooses the same paths his father walked.

The Binding is really hard for me to review.  There were moments where I was fully entranced in the story, soaking up every bit of the world and these characters; and there were moments I was skipping full paragraphs just to get past meaningless descriptions that seemed to prat on forever just to get to something meaningful.  There were quite a few triggers in this book, as expected, but others that felt completely unnecessary.  I am someone who can stomach quite a bit, but there was so much violence and uncalled for events in this story.  I'm not sure if the author was trying to drive home what a binder really sees on a day to day, but there were also a few mentions of bindings of good memories before a death.  I would have loved to explore this piece of the binding much more rather than be bombarded with such atrocities over and over again.  Pacing issues aside, this novel has alot of promise and will make a good impression on most who read it.  I give it a 3 star rating as it was like pulling teeth to get to the end, and there was no closure after all the horror these characters went through.  Overall, a great premise and even a good story hidden in there; but this one is not one I would want to pick up again.
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A lyrically written fantasy about a boy who finds more than meets the eye when he is apprenticed the local bookbinder. In a world where books are seen as magical portals to memory and the soul, the bookbinder has a Giver-like status. Perfect for fans of Naomi Novik.
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'The Binding' has a lot going for it. First of all, there is that gorgeous cover that begs you to pick it up immediately. It has a unique and fascinating alternate-historical world where your memories can be forgotten forever, if you wish. Best of all, it is beautifully written. 

Collins creates a lush, beautifully imagined world with detailed descriptions. The plot unravels slowly and tantalizingly. It took me a while to figure out what exactly was going on, but in the meantime Collins focuses on developing the characters and the world they live in. 

This is also a lovely and sensitively-told story of star-crossed lovers, two young men who fall in love against the wishes of their families. 

This is a lovely book that I would recommend. I hope there might be a sequel; I feel like there is a lot more to this story still to be written.
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A beautifully imagined, emotional fantasy piece that weaves historical fiction, romance, and loss into one poignant story. Add in a huge dash of magical realism and a love story and I was reading as quickly as I could.
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This was a well written and very lyrical book, which set the mood of a period in some time where people could be ‘bound’ and memories captured in books, and excised from existence for the person. This practice is fraught with moral misgivings, but has worked well for many years, for most. Or has it just worked for the rich in society, and really used as a method of cover up? A beautiful love story is expertly told, as well as the complicated moral tale. Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy!
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The Binding is a beautifully written novel but it is a slow burn. It took me a while to get into the book and even after that the story line was fairly slow. If you keep reading though, you won’t be disappointed. The only complaint is that there could have been more about binding. 

What if you could remove memories from the mind? Memories such as grief, pain, sadness, horrifying events, and even dark secrets. In The Binding, that is exactly what people known as binders can do. Emmett Farmer works at his family’s farm but has always been drawn to books, even though they are forbidden. One day his family receives a letter requesting to have Emmett become a bookbinder’s apprentice. Emmett goes to live with Seredith, an older woman who will teach him her ways. Seredith is an artisan, a binder who takes great pride in her work but there are other binders that use their skill for dark purposes. Emmett will discover those types of binders and will uncover a secret about himself.

Thank you to NetGalley and William Morrow for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
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First, thank you to netgalley for the e-arc of this book.  The opinions in this review are my own.

Second I give this book a 3 star rating...maybe a 3.5  I'm on the fence.

So, the premise of the story is about a boy named Emmett who finds out that he is to becomes a book binder's apprentice.  Now that sounds like a dream job, right?  Not in this world.  A book binder binds books yes, but they are filled with the memories of people; memories that they wish to forget.  

I wish really excited about where the book was going.  And then the woman that he was the apprentice under dies and he has to go live with this jerk of a binder.  Sends Emmett out to do a binding even though he was never taught how to do so.  And that is when everything starts going wrong for our main character.

He finds out that there is a book with his name on it; which means he has had memories bound.  The only way ones memories can be bound is if the person agrees to get them bound.  He gets his book and instead of it ending up in the wrong hands so to speak, he throws it in the fireplace and all his memories come flooding back.

Turns out that he's in love with the guy that his parents are hoping will marry his sister- and he is in love with him and has also had his memories bound.  (The other guy's name is Lucian.)

I don't mind the guys falling in love with one another, I just felt it was too much forced relationships just create drama.  

But Bridget's writing is easy to follow and her descriptions of the world this is based is wonderful.  I felt like we were in a Charles Dickens type story.

Over all I enjoyed this story, just not certain points of it.
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This book was unexpected. The story line is different and intriguing. There is a LGBT storyline that I didn't think I would find interesting but it was. It was so easy to get to know Emmett and Lucien and get wrapped up in they lives. I really liked it.
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I tried to read this book because of the description....but I really am not a fan of fantasy books. I try but just can't make myself enjoy them. I read a little of this book but I do not think that I am the person to review this book.
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I got this as an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I need to start by saying I didn't actually finish the book. I was excited by  the description of this book. The excitement  only lasted so long. I kind of slogged through it.  Most fictional/fantastical words I can get into but I just couldn't get immersed into it. One night I sat down to really finish it. I was about 60% through when it revealed itself to be a Homosexual love story. People may not like it but I couldn't read it after that. I believe that it should be listed as a such. Forbidden love is not a good enough descriptor. The writing wasn't strong enough to get me to keep reading.
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