Epeolatry Book Review: The Collector by Laura Kat Young


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Title: The Collector
Author: Laura Kat Young
Genre: Dystopian Horror
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: 12th September, 2023

Synopsis: A frightening dystopian horror novel where grief is forbidden and purged from the mind – a nightmarish mix of 1984 and Never Let Me Go

Sorrow is inefficient. It’s also inescapable.

Lieutenant Dev Singh dutifully spends his days recording the memories of people who, struck with incurable depression, will soon have their minds erased in order to be more productive members of society. After all, the Bureau knows what’s best for you.

At night though, hidden in the dark, Dev remembers and writes in his secret journal the special moments shared with him – the small laugh of a toddler, the stillness of a late afternoon. The first flutter of love. But when the Bureau finds out he’s been recounting the memories – and that the depression is in him, too – he’s sent to a sanatorium to heal.

A nightmarish descent from sadness to madness, THE COLLECTOR is a dystopian horror novel where grief is forbidden and purged from the mind.

I generally enjoy dystopian fiction not so much for the 16 year-old-heroes rising to change the world, but for the exploration of different types of societies. In The Collector, mental illness is more than a stigma, it’s a crime. When a catastrophic event happens or someone is “stricken” (depressed), they are granted one year to recover or they must face treatment from the Bureau. Treatment either consists of having your memories erased, or for the most afflicted, a stay at the Sanitarium. The goal is for citizens to return as a productive member of society.

Before their memories are erased, citizens are visited by a Collector who coaxes them to share a poignant memory for the archive. Lt. Dev Singh is one such Collector, only lately, he has been feeling down and has started secretly recording and reliving other people’s memories. Dev is a contemplative, slow moving soul whose depression pours out from the pages. It is only a matter of time before the Bureau notices that he is “stricken” and sends him to the Sanitarium, a controlling asylum that indulges in the worst psychiatric practices.

The Collector is a sluggish read interspersed with shocking events such as graphic suicide and torturous “treatments”. I had to push my way through the story at some moments. However, I will note that Dev, spends most of the story suffering from depression and I believe this slowed down the story. It may not have suited me personally, but the author’s ability to demonstrate the fog that depression can cast around a sufferer was well done.

I enjoyed the concept and the worldbuilding, but I felt that some parts of the world-building could be fleshed out a lot more. For example, the book opens with a woman whose spouse has passed and she can’t recover. Dev collects her memory and then she is “reset” and all memory of her spouse is erased. I want to know exactly how that works. I don’t mean the mechanics of memory erasure, but if, for instance, my husband were erased from my memory, would he also be erased from all our friends’ memories? Or my family’s? The book does not clarify satisfactorily. The Sanitarium, however, was presented in its full, horrific glory, and needed nothing further.

Laura Kat Young’s The Collector is an intriguing dystopian fiction. While not all of it worked for me, I am curious enough to check out her other works.


Available from Amazon and Bookshop.

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