From the publisher: “Wear your heart on your sleeve.” That’s the saying. But in BONDING, people wear their anxiety on their chests – in the form of a parasite that shows everyone just what you’re feeling on the inside …
Bonding is a love story (or more accurately, two generations of love stories) set in a dystopian future – one in which humans are now forcibly bonded to slug-like alien creatures which feed on their blood plasma and hang off their chests like grotesque living neckties. The story begins a couple generations after the invasion, when humanity has adapted to (if not exactly accepted) the presence of these slugs. Teens Marcus and Laura go on a disastrous first date, in which Marcus nearly dies after his slug unbonds from him, but Marcus survives and he and Laura end up getting together. Eventually the story jumps a generation and follows Marus and Laura’s teenage son Ira, who is in a long-distance relationship with Elegant and is desperate to come visit her. His plans are thrown into disarray by a catastrophic event called the Blooming causes people’s slugs to die en masse.
While this graphic novel sports beautiful art and a really cool premise, it unfortunately doesn’t really deliver in terms of story or characters. The biggest problem is the disjointed nature of the story; the narrative skips around Marcus and Laura’s first date to several years into their relationship, to many years later when they’re adults and their son is suddenly the main character. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really spend enough time on either Marcus and Laura or on Ira and Elegant for the reader to get invested in either pairing. Neither does the story explore the circumstances that led to the entire human race becoming bonded to the slug parasites,. The only explanation is a few vague references to a past war that humanity didn’t win. As a result, neither the sci-fi premise nor the romantic relationships are developed enough to be really interesting.
That said, while this story wasn’t for me, it might appeal to other readers who like quick romance stories featuring characters coping with mental health issues.
Bonding: A Love Story About People and Their Parasites is available at Galesburg Public Library in the graphic novel collection.