Review: Binding 13 by Chloe Walsh

I picked up a copy of the first novel in the Boys of Tommen series assuming that it was set in a university. Turns out that I was wrong. The characters are all in high school, though as per the note in the front, the novel is pitched at readers over the age of eighteen. The setting is quite dark and topics addressed include alcoholism, physical abuse and bullying. The romance, pairing a fifteen year old girl who is small for her age and described as having a childlike appearance with a boy who is physically mature, sexually active, who invades her privacy and is not far from his eighteenth birthday seems questionable. 

After suffering through years of bullying at school, some of which put her in hospital, Shannon has transferred to a private school, one so expensive that her mother has to take out a loan to pay all the fees. Things are going well, she has friends at her new school, there are strong anti-bullying rules in place and everything at Tommen College seems well, nicer ... especially when the star player of the rugby team takes it upon himself to be her protector. Meanwhile, Johnny never thought that there could be more to life than rugby until he meets Shannon and she starts stirring up all kinds of feeling that he has never experienced before. He just can't understand why she is so sad all the time, where those bruises are coming from and what dark secret she seems to be hiding about her home life. 

If I had to sum up Binding 13 in a single word, it would be infuriating. The novel is overlong, the characters seem unable to focus on anything except their blossoming romance. The depictions of the abuse that Shannon suffers at home are quite frightening and may be triggering for some readers. I also don't understand why the author thought it would be a good idea to infantilise the female main character. That, coupled with a scene where a school receptionist is said to have been sexually intimate with a student and the whole thing is treated as a joke, raises a few questions about the novels attitude toward pedophilia. There is a sequel (the novel ends on a frightening cliffhanger,) and it is possible, I suppose, that those themes are addressed there. 

Not recommended.


Popular posts from this blog

Peppermint Patty: I Cried and Cried and Cried

Phrases and Idioms: Tickets on Himself

Charlie Brown, Lucy Van Pelt and the Football