The thing about being a bookworm, book-hoarder, and booklover in general is that beautiful covers pull us in like a moth to flame. And when the story within is as beautiful as the cover promises, a sense of vindication overcomes us – one that we just won’t stop flaunting and saying ‘I told you so!’ Yes, opinions may vary and some other people may get annoyed saying “What a waste of a beautiful cover” and all that. But when it works for you, you just want to hug it and stay that way.
The Binding by Bridget Collins is one such book.
The cover is mind-numbingly gorgeous and there can be absolutely no debate about it. And yes, despite whatever happens in the end, before you start the book, all that you’re thinking is “please let the story be good, please let the story be good, please, please, please!” That’s what I did anyway, because just look at the level of awesome this cover is. Look at it:
The Binding is the story of Emmett Farmer, a teenager who is working on his family’s fields when a letter calls him to the house of a book binder called Seredith. At this point, there isn’t any clarity about who a binder is and what he/she does, so we just go along with it. It’s quite a few pages of trying to navigate bits and pieces of knowledge that’s coming our way – as if we are Emmett and we’re trying to understand why he can’t remember a long period of his life during which he was extremely ill. In this haze, he has to learn about the art of book binding as an apprentice to Seredith, because as she says, he is a binder too.
However, it’s not long before the availability of books and the arrival of a few people in his life turns it on his head. He has to walk around greed and the prejudice that people have against books and find out about the events that led him to being here.
Let me completely honest here: the first part of the book is a complete snooze-fest. I didn’t know if I could go 10 pages without snapping it shut and wondering why I bought it and why I was putting myself through torture reading it. And about 100 pages in, I was sure that I would DNF the book if I went through one more page and it didn’t make any more sense. If you’ll see my Goodreads, you’ll see that I started this book on the 1st of April and finished reading it on the 15th. So you can put two and two together and see why it took me so long to “polish” off this one.
The real amazingness starts from part 2, though. Things get really interesting when the backstory is revealed and everything fits into place, bar very few here and there. This is completely fine because it’s all in good time that reasons and courses are revealed and it hits you like a wrecking ball that you don’t even see coming. This was where I went from wanting to chuck the book to wanting to hug it so tightly I could feel its binding rip. And that’s not a pun I wanted to make. 😛
Let me go back to the point I made at the very beginning: the cover. The Binding has a story that is as stunning as the cover and I cannot help but gloat and defend it at every single point of time that the topic comes up. There have been people who have squarely rejected this book and I don’t mind it. But to say that this is not a good book because it isn’t what they thought isn’t fair, in my opinion. Anyway, you know what they say. To each their own and all that. So it’s fine. 🙂
In some places, you can actually predict what happens next, but it doesn’t take away from the joy of reading such a beautiful story. We don’t know in what time period the story is set; the past, definitely, but not sure about the specifics. However, you can relate to the story so much that it is almost painful at times. Let me tell you why.
As booklovers, we believe that when an author writes a book, they put a part of themselves in it and that is how we come to relate to the book so much. That’s how we fall in love with the story and as a result, the author. The book may have memories or it may be fiction, but what it definitely has is a piece of the author’s heart. And it has the power to influence people. To modify their thinking. To make an impact. To make sure that the reader isn’t alone. And a lot of other things.
Bridget Collins uses these facts and conjures a fantastic story in which people wanting to forget traumatic things in their lives get their memories bound into books by book binders and people used to taking advantage of things do so by getting their victims’ memories modified this way. It’s heartbreaking to see the wrongdoers of real life reflected in the story – not any particular person, but when you meet them in the future, you’ll recollect this and think of how you know their life story.
To our community of booklovers, the book seems like a strange sort of throwback to the times when people who read books were deemed weird. Especially women. People back in those days were warned to not let a woman read because then she would get ideas. It sounds horrific now, but it actually happened. And when you read this book and see Emmett get slapped for buying a book with his pocket money, you’ll see that connection. Yes, the reason here is a little bit of magic, but isn’t there magic in every book?
And that is the biggest reason why I love The Binding so much! Yes, there is the love story that is important, but that too is woven in with this, and without this concept, the love story would have been merely another love story.
Love, love, love The Binding and would highly recommend it with a little disclaimer or a warning – call it what you may – where I must ask you to be patient for the first part of the book. And then, I promise it gets better!
Rating: 4.25/5 stars
Picture Courtesy: Goodreads
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Here’s the link: The Binding by Bridget Collins