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The Binding

The Binding

Book - 2019 | First U.S. edition
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"In the tradition of Sarah Waters, Helene Wecker, and Jessie Burton, an atmospheric and mystery-laden historical novel set within a magical world where books are not stories but the repository of individual lives. Young Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a strange letter arrives summoning him away from his family. He is to begin an apprenticeship as a Bookbinder--a vocation that arouses fear, superstition, and prejudice amongst their small community, but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse. For as long as he can recall, Emmett has been drawn to books, even though they are strictly forbidden. Bookbinding is a sacred calling, Seredith informs her new apprentice, and he is a binder born. Under the old woman's watchful eye, Emmett learns to hand-craft the elegant leather-bound volumes. Within each one they will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there's something you want to forget, a binder can help. If there's something you need to erase, they can assist. Within the pages of the books they create, secrets are concealed and the past is locked away. In a vault under his mentor's workshop rows upon rows of books are meticulously stored. But while Seredith is an artisan, there are others of their kind, avaricious and amoral tradesman who use their talents for dark ends--and just as Emmett begins to settle into his new circumstances, he makes an astonishing discovery: one of the books has his name on it. Soon, everything he thought he understood about his life will be dramatically rewritten. An unforgettable novel of enchantment, mystery, memory, and forbidden love, The Binding is a beautiful homage to the allure and life-changing power of books--and a reminder to us all that knowledge can be its own kind of magic."-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, NY : William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2019]
Edition: First U.S. edition
ISBN: 9780062838094
Branch Call Number: F COLLI-B
Characteristics: 435 pages ; 24 cm


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Mar 13, 2021

This novel brought up some very interesting ethical questions. The first being, if you could forget any memory or part of your life, would you? Another being, if someone asks you to take away every bad memory, should you?

I thoroughly enjoyed the world that Collins created, her writing hold such evocative imagery that you can truly feel the sense of loss that these characters are suffering.
However, for me, the novel was quite slow to start. The entire first third of the book dregs a bit as you're strugling the understand the rather whiny main character and the point of the overall story. Once you reach part two the story finally picks up steam and the threads start pulling together. The book is beautiful and wonderfully written, capturing both the fagility of young infatuation, and the hollowness of emotion when you feel like you're missing a piece of yourself. It is absolutely worth the read. Still, it is a slow build and would not be the right choice for someone looking for a book that will grab them on the first page.

Dec 22, 2020

The closest to painting with and walking through written words; this author is powerfully evocative. Lush prose and a compelling story line, beautifully written. The twisted time sequence truly expressed what it is like to inhabit ones body and not know the story of one's own life, as if coming to, to find oneself swimming in unknown water, desperate for a lungful of air, and finally, finally, breaking through the water into light and breath. The pace of the first fifth of the book made not understanding almost unbearable. (I had to read ahead a bit to ratchet down the pain of the suspense, so I'll never fully know what the experience would have been otherwise; no regrets. And I will read this book again.). Many ethical questions raised as well.

Oct 17, 2020

I'm not one for love stories but damn this one was good - I LOVE the whole "forgetting you're in love" trope. It's lush and well written and has satisfying twists and turns and an intriguing aura of mystery

forbesrachel May 29, 2020

If there was a memory that could break you, would you want to forget? If you could how would its absence change you? Through a love that a society can't accept, and through different perspectives, The Binding questions even more. When do the ties of family become chains? Does "commercializing" someone's memory even respect them? Much like the lives of Emmett and Lucian, the story doesn't exactly end up where we expected it to, and yet the payoff is much more satisfying. Emmett doesn't know that he has forgotten something, and unfortunately the process by which this was done is killing him. Whether he agrees with it or not, Emmett is a binder and he is forced to take up an apprenticeship. It is a quiet life, but this fake peace unravels with each gradually added piece. The first hint of the forgotten story comes when another young man visits. Lucian comes from a wealthy, controlling family, but there was one summer where he found love. Betrayal leads him to make a decision he despises though. Just as much as this is a story about memory, it is also about the power of bonds. Collins' first adult fiction title bares some hallmarks of her YA roots; the book is told by both Emmett and Lucian, and identity is a central theme. For this reason, many teens will also enjoy it. While the first half runs at a steady pace, it is quiet with an undercurrent of tension from the questions, the second balances it with plenty of character development, plot movement, and romance. This structure also mimics and enhances the content; the faux life hides reality. Readers will be intrigued and absorbed by both parts. Maybe there are some memories which should be forgotten, but there are others which should never ever.

Jan 22, 2020

This book is perfect for someone looking for magical realism cooked up in a slowly simmering gothic pot. Storytelling at it’s finest.

Jan 14, 2020

The book centers around people who can take memories you no longer want to remember and "bind" them to a book. The idea and the characters were great but it did read fairly slow which killed the story at points.

Oct 20, 2019

I gave up on this book half way through, something I rarely do. Apparently, this author is a successful writer of books for young adults. If this is an example, I feel sorry for her readers. This book starts out with one promising idea, touches it only long enough to arouse your curiosity, then moves onto another idea, then another, then another. Any of these ideas would have made for a decent read, but the writer hasn't done the work to fully flesh out any of them. Not impressive.

JessicaGma Oct 17, 2019

It took a bit to get into the mythos here about why books are bad and what they actually represent in this world, but once you figure out what the deal is with Emmett, it makes sense, and the story picks up. I don't know if it was that novel in terms of magic versus normals, but the pretense of books acting as pensieves is interesting. Intriguing but not the best fantasy I have read this year.

Jun 07, 2019

DNF @ 30%
(Review Not on Blog)

This novel was a bit painful to read and not based on subject matter but because of the writing. I found that my mind either wandered and I could not remember what I last read, or I found myself forcing myself to reread passages. I then decided to try the audiobook and I was able to make it to 30% before I realized I have no investment in the story or the characters. I am giving up on this one.

***I received an eARC from EDELWEISS***

LPL_LeahN May 18, 2019

Imagine a world where our secrets and memories, good and bad, are taken from us and bound into books. We can choose to be bound and forget. For love, or for money, or just for the sake of forgetting our pain. But there's always a cost.

This book is kind of dark and brooding, but the premise is so compelling. I feel like the author could write an entire series about bookbinders, and I would gobble them up, too. It's very descriptively written and includes a beautiful romance.

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