Bit of a mixed bag here… Hot off the press this book caught my eye – not least because of it’s absolutely beautiful cover (something everyone seems to be talking about, so well done Bridget) but also because the idea was intriguing and the reviews glowing. Needless to say when I began I was a little less enamoured than I had anticipated. Granted, it was something quite different from the books I’d read lately so I wanted to give it a chance, but it took a good while for me to actually become gripped by it.
We begin the book with Emmett, a farmer who after a long illness is horrified to discover he is to become a bookbinder’s apprentice. Binders are not well-liked, and for a long time a lot of detail is unclear; but in this world these aren’t your average binders. The stories they bind within the pages are memories, extracted from individuals so that they are left with a blank slate where the selected memories should be. Most often they are bad memories, taken to spare the individual from the pain they bring, but they can also be good memories, sold by the individual for survival.
The story is told in three parts, each presenting a distinct timeframe and told from two different perspectives. It wasn’t until the second part that for me the story began to take shape and the characters more real depth. We begin to understand more about the characters themselves and the key relationships within the story, which was where I was sucked in. It became less pushing through to get the book finished and more intrigued to see how it would progress; so if this one’s on your shelf at home or you made a start but weren’t convinced it’s worth keeping going. We also learn about the events that lead up to the first part of the story, so a lot of things began to click into place here and for me that was quite important to enjoying the storyline. I think as a reader you would benefit from learning a bit more earlier on in the story, but there you have it!
I’ve been lucky enough to have absolutely loved the last few books I’ve read, and the raving reviews have come easily. This one less so, but it’s not always about reviewing the best of the best. Though for the most part my comments have been largely negative – and I did at first find it incredibly frustrating that Collins’ characters can’t ever seem to finish a sentence – the idea behind the book is a novel one that makes you rethink the connection between books and your own experiences, and even the way the press trades in the lives and experiences of others to effects far beyond the individual’s control. If you’re into light fantasy then this one might be for you. And if not, definitely have a read of some of my other blogs for your next great read!