The Binding by Bridget Collins
PUBLISHED BY HARPER COLLINS
REVIEW BY HAYLEY ROHEAD
Although essentially set in the fantasy genre, this Young Adult novel explores other issues.
Guilt, sexual abuse, homosexuality and power are all deeply embedded in the tale of Emmet Farmer. This young man is taken by his family from their farm and everything he knows, to become what is known as a “binder”. He has no idea why he has been selected, and feels his family is disowning him by agreeing to the proposition.
The “binders” of this fantasy world can take the memories you no longer want, out of your mind and transfer it to a book where it is bound forever. For people who have intolerable memories and seek respite, this is a positive thing. It does mean that a part of your life experience is gone forever and there is a blankness left in its place. True binders see their profession as a ‘calling’ and will only remove memories if that is what the individual truly asks for.
Of course there are going to be corrupt binders who take and sell stories that are salacious, sensational or accusatory. In fact, there is a roaring black market for such stories. There are also predators who strip their victim’s minds over and over and keep their stories and feelings about what has been done to them for their own private delectation.
Emmet does become a binder and eventually realises his own story has been bound before the novel begins.
The text is split into two halves, both being told in the first person – the first being Emmet’s current reality and the second that of Lucian Darnay. These two are the protagonists of the novel. Their physical relationship is at the core of the secret they share and both have that memory erased. The plot follows the rediscovery and recovery of what happened to them and their acceptance of events.
I found the opening sequences setting up the back story frustrating. Emmet wants to know why things are happening to him and nobody tells him. This doesn’t build suspense, it is simply irritating delay. The dual structure of two stories is interesting and the subject matter is, too. The idea of being able to bind memories is unusual and I wanted more background on the history of the craft. Collins has written a text that should appeal to young adult readers because of the strong themes being explored.
Find this novel in store at Planet Books. Ask the friendly staff for guidance too, and they’ll be more than happy to order you in a copy if it’s already sold out.