[Review] Forbidden by Syrie James and Ryan M. James
Edition: Australian Paperback
Summary: “She should not exist. He should not love her. Claire Brennan has been attending Emerson Academy for two years now (the longest she and her mom have remained anywhere) and she’s desperate to stay put for the rest of high school. So there’s no way she’s going to tell her mom about the psychic visions she’s been having or the creepy warnings that she’s in danger. Alec MacKenzie is fed up with his duties to watch and, when necessary, eliminate the descendants of his angelic forefathers. He chose Emerson as the ideal hiding place where he could be normal for once. He hadn’t factored Claire into his plans. . . . Their love is forbidden, going against everything Alec has been taught to believe. But when the reason behind Claire’s unusual powers is revealed and the threat to her life becomes clear, how far will Alec go to protect her?”
I recently read on someone’s wordpress blog that rather than reviewing books they didn’t like, people should only recommend the books they did like. While that is a simplistically positive way of reading books I think it’s still important to discuss and share your opinions about the books you didn’t like. Imagine if an absolutely awful racist, homophobic, sexist book was published and nobody wrote a negative review about it. How many people would go and buy it? How many readers would have to suffer through its nonsense? That is an extreme example but I want to make a point that you are not a negative person if you share a negative opinion about something. We are all individuals with different opinions and it would be magnificently harder to live in a society where we could not share what we think with everybody else. I’m not saying we should rip apart the books we hate with a knife because I’m naive enough to think that there’s always something positive you can say about a book. And I am absolutely not condoning personal attacks against the authors. They’re people too and just because you don’t like their work doesn’t mean other people don’t love it too.
This is a pretty heavy handed way to start a book review. First let me say that I borrowed Forbidden from my local library for two reasons: The cover is beautiful and I have read Syrie James’ Jane Austen book and loved it. As you may have caught on from my preface I did not like that book. In fact I couldn’t even finish it. I have mixed feelings about reviewing a book I haven’t completed so to calm you dissenters I will say that I am only reviewing what I read which was about 50% of the book.
I deeply disliked the similarities between Forbidden and Twilight. I would love to know how the authors and the editor didn’t pick up on the disturbing likeness or worse yet whether they deliberately wanted the similarity in the hope of catching the money of young Twilight fangirls. This was the main reason I had to stop reading the book. Claire (who we should name Bella as they’re the same character) plays the pathetically hopeless part of a girl so utterly ‘selfless’ that she barely understands that she’s the hot stuff every boy in school wants. I’m not sure if I’ve ever known any girl to be so blind when a boy is interested in them, let alone several, and it bothers me that books like Twilight and Forbidden are teaching girls that feigning ignorance about their beauty is attractive. Or even worse that if they only open their eyes they’ll see that every boy wants them. In reality this isn’t the case, and I challenge anybody to prove that I am wrong. Of course Claire is also vastly intelligent as well as beautiful so really I am not surprised at the lack of interest this character had for me. Why couldn’t Claire be intelligent and look average? Because that doesn’t sell. As a reader we live vicariously through the hero and Claire must make us feel beautiful and smart, and every bit as perfect as we wish we could be. (Or so these books suggest.) Twilight at least had an interesting love story and an acceptable plot. Forbidden lacks the imagination and the characters are left reaching for attention rather than holding us captive like Bella and Edward did.
I tried, I really did, and according to the ratings on Goodreads apparently I’m in the minority. But take it from a girl who actually loved Twilight, this book is a cheap copy and it annoys me that publishers are still grasping at straws to recreate its popularity. I would rather read something new than something chewed twice.