Forbidden Paperback – Jan 9 2012
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“…quite effective paranormal suspense and intensebutquixotic highschool romance.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Both main characters are welldrawn, with believable motivations and reactions to their situations.” (School Library Journal)
“Beautifully written. Romantic and filled with delicious tension. Forbidden enchants!” (Sophie Jordan, author of FIRELIGHT)
“Hits all the right notes…If you enjoy angels, ‘forbidden’ romance and dashing heroes, then this should be added to your TBR.” (USA Today)
About the Author
Syrie James is the bestselling author of the critically acclaimedNocturne;Dracula, My Love;The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte(Great Group Read, Women's National Book Association; Audie Romance Award, 2011), and the international bestsellerThe Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen(Best First Novel 2008,Library Journal.) Translation rights for Syrie's books have been sold in sixteen languages. An admitted Anglophile, Syrie loves paranormal romance and all things 19th century. She lives in Los Angeles and is a member of the Writer's Guild of America.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Forbidden, authored by a mother and son writing team is their debut supernatural novel chocked full of intrigue, romance and humor. But whyever is a Jane Austen blog site reviewing such a book? One with not even a mention of Mr. Darcy, nor a reference to Jane Austen, nor anything remotely Regency? Simply thus. One of the authors, none other than the international best-selling author of The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen as well as the award winning The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte, Syrie James, along with her son, Ryan M. James, ventures to offer us a larger allowance of prose to our daily study.
High school sophomore, Claire Brennan is tired of constantly moving from city to city. Every time she seems to put down roots, her paranoid, seemingly hippie mother decides to pull up stakes and start anew. New city. New school. But here at Emerson Academy, in the posh Brentwood, California community, not only does Claire love her prestigious school and value the scholarship she has worked these last two years to maintain but also her two bosom buddies, Erica and Brian, whom she shares everything with. So who can blame her for not telling her mother about her newly discovered psychic powers and the visions warning her of imminent peril? Then there is Alec MacKenzie, new man on campus with the exotic Scottish accent and handsome good looks. Who is he? After he somehow saves them from being crushed by falling scaffolding... his story of being orphaned at an early age, lived all over the world with various relations and most recently emancipated from a rich uncle... seems more and more sketchy, putting Claire and her friends on high alert. "Even if you can explain away all those other things, the fact is, I saw those platforms hover for a moment in mid-fall before being tipped, I'm telling you, Alec held them up - somehow - with his mind, and he made them fall to the side. He may not be a vampire, but he's... I don't know... telekinetic." p. 87
What Claire doesn't know is Alec is a Grigori, an earthly angel bound to watch and sometimes eliminate the descendants of his angelic forefathers, and chose Emerson Academy to hide from those duties, living amongst the humans as one of them. "So, when you hugged - did you feel Alec's heartbeat? Claire stifled a laugh. She looked at Brian from her seat and nodded emphatically, patting her chest one-handed with a rapid drumbeat. He grinned triumphantly and made his hand for her to turn the note over. She did. It read: See. Told you. He's not a vampire." p.118 Who would have thought Alec would end up falling in love with Claire, a newly Awakened Nephilim, a half angel, a Halfblood... one whose very existence is forbidden.
At first Alec appears aloof, but his demeanor improves on acquaintance. "Claire could feel the heat emanating from his body. Suddenly, all she could think about was that moment in her dream when he'd almost kissed her. He was looking at her now in the same way. The fear and doubt she'd been harboring began to trickle away. Whoever Alec was -whatever he was -Claire realized she wouldn't mind if he did kiss her." p.157 As the two discover each other, as Claire learns about her heritage and her newly discovered powers, the stakes rise and are no longer about first kisses and crushes. "If there entire relationship was against Grigori law, what would happen if they pursued it?" p.211 It seems others have discovered her existence now and the hunt is on. Alec vows to protect her from those he is escaping as well as The Fallen, the evil ones he has hunted for a century. "...what are you going to do? Turn me into your hangman committee? Have me executed?" "That's what I should do." Vincent finished off his wine and sighed. "But Alec has begged me to reconsider. It seems you've become so important to him, he's willing to put many lives at risk. So we've made a deal." p.307
If this all seems familiar, as in "We can't be together... I'll hurt you," Bella and Edward from Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga; or the mysterious, handsome teenage boy romances the odd girl with new found powers, Ever and Damen from Alyson Noel's Immortals series; or girl falling in love with angel protector with Fallen angels all about them, Nora and Patch from Becca Fitzgerald's Hush Hush series and Daniel and Luce from Lauren Kate's Fallen series... I can promise you it's not a copycat novel. Yes, there may be similarities but I interpreted it as part of the genre and following angel lore. It was very much about trust, discovery, and love. I totally enjoyed this. I was entertained by the inspired prose, witty dialogue, the humorous actions and reactions, and of course, the honest, pure character development. The ending will leave you not quite hanging off a cliff by your fingernails... but I assure you, I look forward to James and James next installment. This may be written for Young Adults, however, might I also suggest, for the young at heart? (As per my review at Austenprose.)
I'm starting to wonder if a lovelorn angel lusting after a human or chasing after a nephilim is the new trend coming in on the tail of vampire fiction. Forbidden, by mother and son duo Syrie and Ryan James can definitely be slipped in with the forlorn angel breaking the code of his angelic lifestyle that seems to be the current trend in the YA paranormal genre. Forbidden follows Claire, who essentially lives a gypsy lifestyle with her mother, flitting from place to place with no real reason. During this book, Claire and her mother have remained in one place for nearly two years and Claire is currently enrolled in an elite, private academy where she has to bust her butt to maintain a high GPA so she can stay in. Of course, as any female lead in current YA fiction, she's super smart and has no problem maintaining the perfect grades (personally, the "perfect student" female lead is getting a bit old to me. Someone, create an original character please, one with spunk and some real flaws? Thanks.)
Enter Alec, the mysterious, handsome stranger who shows up on registration day and oddly attaches himself to Claire and her friends. It's made clear almost immediately that he's got a secret that he's hiding, and that he's not everything he seems to be. *cue melodramatic music* Dun..dun..dunnnnnnnn
I want to make something clear here, I have instant disdain for any YA book that creates an immediate and powerful love between two adolescent characters. I think it's important that young readers are exposed to characters who develop a love based on getting to know one another, and spending time together, not seeing each other from across the lawn and feeling sparks arc across the entire campus as they immediately fall head over heels in love with one another without uttering a word. Okay, so maybe I exagerated some. Alec and Claire didn't fall in love like that, but it was pretty quick and unrealistic, and I'm not a fan of a love with no sound base.
Also, I have issues when a book has scenes that are uncomfortably similar to scenes in other extremely popular YA books, like...when Alec miraculously appeared out of no where and saved Claire from a falling beam in a construction zone and disappeared, as if nothing had happened. It was eerily reminiscent of a certain vampire/human girl/car saving scene in another book. Do I really need to give you the name? Really?
Which that leads me to the characters. Is it just me, or do all female characters in YA fiction now have to be astonishingly smart yet dense at the same time, oblivious to everything around them. Also, do they have to be quiet, mousy, and reserved, and oddly unpopular even though they are highly attractive (and don't forget, they can't realize their pretty. That's a no-no in YA fiction, guys.) And do all male leads in YA fiction have to be hot, brooding, mysterious, secretive, and almost a "bad boy" by definition? Because if so, this book hit stereotypical YA fictional characters right on the bullseye, cause that was Claire and Alec to a T.
One good point in the book was the writing style. It was very age appropriate considering the audience the book was geared too, and it was well written. The words and punctuation were used correctly, there weren't a ton of glaring errors hiding in the paragraphs, and the sentence structure flowed nicely. It was written as I would expect, and want, a YA novel to be written. Forbidden definitely gets a thumbs up for me in writing style!
Overall, I can't say that I was a fan of Forbidden. I found it to be drawing from too many other YA novels in plot, characterizations, and general concept. I also had issues with the instant love between lead characters, the predictable outcome at the end, and the lack of answers at the end of the book. I know it's first in a series, but seriously, there still needs to be a decent amount of closure at the end of the book. I dont foresee myself picking up the next book in the series, and I can't see myself recommending this book to anyone over the age of 13.
First off, I really loved the story. The premise was interesting, and I like how I had to keep guessing and trying to figure out what was going on. I liked the tactic the authors used--to not tell us what Claire or Alec are for quite a while. All these crazy things start happening, and people are not who they say they are. I felt like I was just as lost as Claire was, which was exciting. I wish the back of the book did not mention angels. It would have been more fun to not have had any clue at all.
Alec is an amazing character, and I'm not going to tell you what he is. It's fun to discover that on your own. He's a mix of bad boy and sweetheart, which I love. He is so sweet with Claire. He's also mysterious and dangerous, yet soft and romantic. He's at Emerson Academy to escape his old life and create a new one... if that's even possible. He enjoys his isolation. As soon as Claire pops up on the radar as someone the Elders should be investigating, his hiding place is discovered and he ends up having to take drastic measures to protect her from those who wish to destroy her.
I'm not going to tell you exactly what Claire is either, but she's something forbidden. Haha. Her entire life should not even exist. She starts noticing changes and has to learn as she goes, because not many have ever been in her position. There's no manuals on how to be herself. Man, this is painful to explain without spoilers, so I'm moving on! She's sweet and wishes to be noticed by this one guy she's had a crush on for years. Of course, he barely notices she's alive. When Alec comes along, though, she begins to gravitate towards him right as this crush starts to gravitate towards her. She's torn. She doesn't embrace the love triangle, like so many YA girls end up doing in books. (Like... did Bella have to act so upset to be marrying Edward, but fling herself into Jacob's arms when he showed up late at her reception? Sorry... I just saw Breaking Dawn yesterday.). She does a lot of thinking, and follows her heart. She seems smart. She also uses her talents to help people, like a classmate who needed a push in the right direction. Those are two main reasons why I like her. She didn't bug me, which often happens to me with YA heroines. I feel like I'm saying this a lot lately. Maybe authors are starting to write better heroines in general?
I liked Claire's friends a lot. They looked out for each other, and spent a lot of time sitting and chatting about all kinds of things. Friends usually end up bugging me too. They can so often be petty, catty, etc. I wish I had good friends like them when I was in high school.
There were several plot twists that made me go, "Whoa! I definitely wasn't thinking THAT would happen!" I've noticed that as I read more and more of one genre, books begin to become pretty predictable. I mean, how many love triangles do we see? How many evil villains do we see? How many cliche plot twists do we see. A lot, a lot, a lot. These twists were not something I foresaw. I enjoyed being outsmarted by a genre that I've pretty much figured out.
Of course, the sweet kissing descriptions were just as good as the ones I've read in Syrie's other novels. I love romance!
My only possible constructive criticism... I'm not sure if it's because the book is part of the YA genre (which I've never read from Syrie), or if it was because she co-wrote it with her son, but there were parts of the novel that were totally Syrie, and other parts that did not sound like her. I could tell that two people wrote it. I'm not sure if it's because her writing style and Ryan's were not blended seamlessly, or if it was just that I'm used to reading adult fiction from Syrie instead of YA. In either case, it's not a huge deal... just an observation. If I had not read other works of hers, I doubt I would have noticed anything at all. I've just come to recognize Syrie's literary voice because I like it so much!
I asked Syrie if she and her son were planning to write a sequel, and she said that in their minds, it's a trilogy. However, HarperTeen only committed to one book. They have great ideas for the next two, though, so hopefully Forbidden is well-received, and they can continue the story. I'd love to know more about what's in store for Alec and Clair. Actually, I'd love a prequel, too. Throughout the story, we hear little bits about Claire's parents. I'd love to read about their story as well. It has the potential to be a pretty beautiful story.
I definitely think that the book will appeal to more than just YA readers, and I think a lot of that is due to the fact that the characters are not annoying and certainly don't fit into the stereotypical high school student formula. I think it also helped that Alec had a certain maturity that seemed to influence the other characters, and that brought on more mature conflicts and issues. I'm 24, and a lot of YA novels I read make me feel pretty old. Haha. I know I'm not old, but in a totally different place than most YA characters. I didn't feel like this while reading Forbidden, and I forgot they were all highschoolers. It was refreshing.
In short, it was a wonderful book. I quite enjoyed it, and only took about 2 days to read it. Hopefully this team gets to continue the story! While it can totally stand on its own, there are plenty of ends that are just a tad loose, that could use some tying up!
I have noticed an increasing trend in young adult books using derogatory terms in reference to individuals with developmental disabilities, in this case, on page 137, "Holy crap," Erica said. "We've been so short-bus about this."
Teenagers probably think this is funny and just read it, laugh or not, and go on. As someone who writes and also works with children with disabilities in an elementary school, where we are trying to stamp out bullying and engender understanding, it truly dismays me when I see this happen in books that have recently been published. The children I work with are kind and loving, they are just different. They have autism or cerebral palsy or Down syndrome, in some cases other syndromes. There are some wonderful students at our school who come and volunteer as peer buddies to students in our class, and become their friends and understand their differences better.
Yes, sometimes people with disabilities act differently in public, make strange noises, or do strange things. They are honest, they don't hide who they are. Just because some of them can't speak doesn't mean they don't have things to say, they just need people willing to take the time to listen.
Authors have a responsibility, to an extent. If we put something in a book or story that's derogatory, there needs to be a good reason for it, not simply put it there to make fun of people at their expense. There's nothing wrong with people who are gay, lesbian, bi, transsexual, transgender, bi-racial, a difference race than our own, etc. etc., and if comments were made about anything like that, there would possibly be a stir about it, but often if it's making fun of disabilities, it doesn't get mentioned.
It is not open season on people with disabilities. Authors need to remember this, think about their audience, and remember that what they write sinks in. It encourages further devaluation of a population that doesn't deserve it, and includes some of the best people I've known.
It's truly a shame, because I think this book has promise. I just think that authors, editors, and publishers such as HarperTeen should think about these things a little more closely. Just because someone with a severe disability might not be reading your books, someone who loves someone who is might be.
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