May 18, 2012

Review: Forbidden

By: Tabitha Suzuma
Published: July 2011 by Simon Pulse
Format: Hardback, 454 pages
First Reviewed: September 2011
Buy: Barnes & Noble//Books-A-Million//Amazon//Book Depository
Add it on Goodreads

Sometimes love chooses you.

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.

Rating: 3/5

Before I decided to get this book (another birthday money buy), I thought, I really want to read about incest? Not going to lie: That disturbed me a bit. But then when I read so many good reviews, I decided to try it out. Something different from all the others out there. You know, Suzuma took a risk. And methinks it paid off pretty well. My main issues don't even lie with the premise.

If you were to ask me about the writing in the beginning, I would have told you I absolutely loved it. But since I've finished, not as much. I'm not saying I didn't like it, because I did, I just felt it went a little downhill as the novel progressed.

What I liked about it, mainly in the beginning, was the emotion. Suzuma didn't shy away from it, which I really appreciated, especially when it came to Lochan. Not many authors show the emotional side of males like Suzuma did. But then I felt Suzuma started trying too hard with the emotion. Instead of me feeling it, I became annoyed by it. She'd spend pages and pages describing the same feeling(s) over and over again. Which brings me to my next issue...

The prose. There was just too much at times. Other than the emotions, general thoughts the characters were having about their situation and/or life would be told to me over paragraphs and paragraphs, which would then make me pretty bored. I found myself skimming quite a bit, saying to myself, I get it. You've told me a thousand times. WE GET HOW YOU LIVE/THINK! -_-

Okay, last major pet peeve. Aha, I mean last two. 1) The dialogue got on my nerves sometimes. Suzuma was definitely exclamation point happy while writing this and some of the things the characters said to one another were either unrealistic, too narrative-y, or too over-the-top, to where I found myself thinking, Really? And 2) Once Suzuma had her list of, say, ten-ish favorite words, she never let up. Like "gentle." I swear if I saw that one more time (any form), I was going to hit something. Oh, and a third issue: Lay off the adverbs. :)

Umm...will you all be mad when I say I have a fourth? Too bad, because I do, and it's pretty major: I didn't feel she pulled off the dual narrative too well. If I opened the book to a random page and started reading, the only thing to really make me know who's narrating would be if he/she referred to the sibling as her/him, if that makes sense.

However, I did like the writing. When it wasn't overdone or annoying, it was quite beautiful, simple, and easy-to-read yet powerful at times.

Because I don't have many problems with the characters, I'll just list my few issues then what I liked. 1) Lochan and Maya weren't different enough for me, mainly narrative-wise, like I said. Sometimes I'd get them mixed up, which...shouldn't happen. 2) Some of their sudden mood shifts weren't always realistic and neither were all of their reactions to things. And 3) Sometimes I felt someone would do something a little out of character. It wasn't often, and I don't want to give anything away, but just somethings.

But, all-in-all, I really liked the characters. Little Willa was a doll. Cute little five-year-old. Tiffin was a nicely developed eight-year-old who doesn't quite have the middle-child-syndrome, but halfway, which was realistic to me. And Kit was probably my favorite character, the most developed. Thirteen-year-old who's lashing out for understandable reasons, whose pain is visible even though he tries to hide it. He was very, very well done.

As for their mother, I would have liked to have seen more of her. If you've read the book, you'll know that kind of defeats the purpose, but I think a little longer scene here or a flashback or something there would have done a lot for her character. But what we did see of her, I liked. Cliche-ish, but done in a good way. Though, sometimes I did think Suzuma went a tad bit over-the-top with her.

And our leads, Lochan and Maya, well, I liked them, but I didn't love them. I think if they would have had more distinct personalities and not just traits, they would have been much, much stronger. Sometimes I didn't care about them like I should have, though I did many times. Overall, the characterization was good.

Here's where it gets tricky. The plot itself could have used a bit more work. The premise, though, I felt worked very well. I think this risk paid off. But I had a problem with the pacing of the plot and with some of the things that happened, or didn't happen.

First, my biggest problem was that huge chunks and chapters could have been cut out and/or condensed tremendously. Like I said before, Suzuma would spend pages and pages rehashing the same things instead of a line or two to bring in the emotion, so it would take me completely out of the story.

Then I felt I lost the excitement, the intensity, the fear, the nervousness behind them being a couple. I's hard to explain. Stuff happened, but sometimes I don't think it really played into the story enough. For example--and this is just the best way to explain this, methinks, so it's a tiny spoiler--little Willa breaks her arm and the whole issue is wrapped up within a chapter and a halfish. When/If you've read the book, maybe you'll understand where I'm coming from. I wish it would have been more intense.

And with Kit, I think that plot could have been played up on more mid/end-book. It seemed to disappear for a while then start back up. Basically, I just wanted more out of the plot in general. As for the ending, I didn't really like it. Part of me is liking it more now that I'm sitting here thinking about it, but I just feel like it was rushed. Also, it was highly depressing. I get that the epilogue was there to kind of end on a good note, but I don't think it helped much.

Other: Okay, I'm sorry Suzuma, but the sexual scenes were a bit--no, scratch that--way too detailed. Okay, for real, I felt like closing my eyes. And no, it wasn't because they were siblings. It was just too detailed in general. I mean, the single sex scene was a few pages long. And...I'll leave it at that. Also, just to warn those who don't like it: there is a tad bit of language. I must say I also liked the fact that Suzuma dealt with social anxiety as well.

So...overall, I liked this book. Was a bit nervous to read it, considering the subject matter, but I did enjoy it. However, the writing was too overdone and took away from the story quite a bit. Suzuma took a risk with this and managed to make me, as a reader, understand why the siblings were how they were and acted how they acted and had the feelings that they had. That part of this was very well done, in my opinion. It's was the actual plot/pacing, overdone emotions and thoughts, and lack of intensity in areas that could have used it (outside of the incest/feelings stuff) that had me not like this as much as I'd hoped. But I did enjoy it, and if you have the "strength" for edgy YA, I recommend giving this a try.

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