It’s been a long time since a book has really grabbed me and not let go until the end. I’m a slow reader these days, usually taking 2 – 3 weeks to finish a book since I only read at night before bed. But The Binding demanded my time. I read it everywhere, foregoing all kinds of adulting in favor of immersing myself in Collins’ world, and I finished it in about 3 days.
In the world of The Binding, there are people who have the power to take unwanted memories and transfer them into books. While some binders see their craft only as a last resort for those memories too awful to hold onto, most use their skills for profit, hiring themselves out to those who want to abuse and manipulate. Binders have a terrible reputation, and to read a book is to read the soul of someone else. Emmett Farmer accidentally reads a book as a child, beginning a hidden longing for these memories he doesn’t understand until one day he falls terribly ill with a sickness that only the binder, Seredith, can cure. He finds he has the skill, and must apprentice in the trade or be consumed by it. While in his apprenticeship, a young man named Lucian Darnay comes to Seredtih for a binding, and Emmett has a gut feeling that he and Lucian are connected in some terrible way he can’t remember. When he later finds a book in Seredith’s library with his own name, Emmett’s world falls apart as he searches for answers.
Collins’ work is darkly enchanting, turning the hero’s journey and the coming of age tropes on their heads, with one of her greatest achievements being the ability to capture the utter obsession of young, forbidden love. She hints and suggests, prods and twists, making us wonder until the great reveal brings both satisfaction and redemption. Emmett and Lucian are excellent characters, nuanced and full with the right amount of humor to balance the darkness of the plot, while always holding true to the cadence of teenage dialogue.
There’s an urgency to the plot that keeps you turning page after page even though a large portion of the story is about silence and loneliness. Collins balances it all well, and I simultaneously wanted to get to the end and never stop reading because her characters and her world were so interesting.
Bingo Square: Rainbow Flag