FORBIDDEN is a controversial YA novel written by very british Tabitha Suzuma.
I have been hearing about this book for quite some time. And to be honest, I have to say it intrigued me. There were people in the YA blogosphere who absolutely fell in love with this story, others not so much. Talk about Marmite effect. So of course, I had to investigate and decide for myself if like this book or not.
She is pretty and talented - sweet sixteen and never been kissed.
He is seventeen, gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future.
And now they have fallen in love. But.... They are brother and sister.
First thing first, let's talk about the edition first. I own the paperback published in 2010 by Definitions, an imprint of Random House Children's Publisher UK. 418 pages divided into 26 chapters plus epilogue. The cover is very minimalistic. Black background. Only and white thorn heart with the title. Simple. But I guess it lets the story talk for itself.
The writing. It is very modern, easy to read, quite compelling to be honest. It starts off quite slow and it does take a while to get to the story, but soon enough you are thrown in the world Lochan & Maya's life. And quite frankly, their life isn't that great. Abandoned by their father, left to care for themselves by their alcoholic mother always chasing the lost youth, the older siblings look after the younger ones. Ms Suzuma managed to capture british life at the lowest quite well. It reminds me a lot of everyday life you can see around you, but at the same time it does feel a lot like an episode of Jeremy Kyle show.
The story is told from the point of both Lochan and Maya. It starts quite normal. They are brother and sister who are stuck looking after their three siblings. They don't have much time for themselves. They don't do much outside their little house apart from going to school. All their lives are submerged to an everyday routine of feeding the young ones, making sure that the house is tidy, shopping, going to school, cooking the dinner, tiding the house, sleep and then it's all over again the next day.
There is also the issue of Lochan's social anxiety. He is very intelligent. There is a bright future ahead of him and London College, but he can't talk in front of the class. He is good with the written assignments, but when it comes to presentation, he is lost. He gets a panic attack. I love that the author addresses the issue of panic attack, social anxiety and they way people suffering from it feel.
Having said that, I must say that I don't think I like this story. I felt really awkward reading it. I just couldn't look at it as a romantic love story where I route for the characters to be together. All the way through reading it, I just thought: "They are brother and sister!!!!!!!" Also, it seems like their incestual relationship just sprang on from nowhere. With one dance, their feelings suddenly changed and they craved each other in a whole different way. Also I felt like it was mostly Maya who was pushing the relationship. Lochan was careful and tried to fight it, but she kept on pushing and everything got really intense very quickly. But still I couldn't view it as a love story.
Yes, I did shed a tear or two at the ending. And yes, I do not think there could be an other way to end this story that the way it did. But I still wish that the author would go a different direction. I wish it would be more happier, more positive. It was a dark story which the saddest ending I've read in long time.
Now for the conclusion.. I am sorry Ms Suzuma, but I don't like your story as much as I don't like marmite. It didn't touch my heart and made me all mushy. Actually, I had to force myself to read it at the end as I couldn't get over the fact that it's a story about brother and sister falling in love. I know many people call your book romantic and beautiful, but I can't. Even though it reminds me of works of VC Andrews ( And I did read a lot of her books and I quite enjoy them.), I couldn't enjoy reading yours.
So I am sorry, but I won't be reading this story anytime soon again. I am glad that I have finally found out for myself what the story was about and what the fuss in the blogosphere was about. I am happy to meat Lochan, who I think is one of the most complicated and interesting characters I have the pleasure to meet in long time. But at the same time, I was a little disappointed with the novel. It wasn't the one for me.