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? -(summary from Goodreads.com)
My Thoughts: I have always wanted to read a book by Syrie James but I never have…so when I got the chance to read and review this one, I jumped all over it. Of course, it didn’t hurt that it had a pretty cover. When I read a little about Forbidden, I learned that this was James’ YA debut as well as her first time writing with her son.
1. The Characters.
- Claire Brennan. Daughter of an overprotective mother & unknown father. Moves around often. Goes to the prestigious Emerson Academy on scholarship, very smart. BFF with Erica & Brian and has had a crush on Neil for years. Neil never really notices her. Meets Alec just before school starts and is a bit intrigued as he is handsome, mysterious, and Scottish.
- Alec MacKenzie. The cover-up: Just moved from Scotland to attend Emerson Academy, lives alone, parents died years ago. The truth: Alec just wants to live a normal life. Running away from something. Trying to stay hidden. He shouldn’t be interested in Claire because it is forbidden…but he can’t help it.
There are a few other great characters in the story, but none are as three-dimensional as Claire and Alec, although they all add some depth to the story and make it fun.
2. Paranormal. I love paranormal stories, but I admittedly haven’t read too many dealing with angels. So this was pretty new territory for me and I enjoyed it a great deal. There is a mythology written in, certainly, but I can’t really comment on whether or not it is a common mythology among angel stories because I just don’t have the experience…what I can say is that I loved how Forbidden was set up. The hierarchy of the angels and half-angels and the Fallen, those in charge, and how rulebreakers are punished…all of that was unique to me and quite enjoyable to read.
Of course, there were also some super human strengths, extra-human abilities, and even some shape-shifting that added to the paranormal feel. These things are always fun.
3. The Conflict. Alec falls in love with Claire, which is forbidden. He can’t do that. (I’ll let you read exactly WHY yourself so I’m not a big SPOILER.) So now, he’s broken the rules. Which is punishable by some pretty hefty fines. Not only that, but running away from his job is pretty punishable for Alec too. So Alec is a huge mess waiting to happen. He’s pretty much a big ball of conflict. Throw in one someone wanting revenge and, well, it gets messy fast.
There are also a couple of instances of betrayal. Betrayal is always interesting and adds fuel to the fires and sting to the hurt.
4. Alternating POV. This story is written with differing points-of-view, particularly between Claire and Alec. I realize that there are some readers who don’t follow this structure well, but to me I always find that it adds depth when done well. In this case, I loved seeing not only the relationship between Claire and Alec develop from both perspectives, but when things started to get chaotic…well, I enjoyed both perspectives on all of the craziness as well. Of course there is the added
speculation bonus that Syrie James wrote this with her son Ryan James, which is most likely the two differing points-of-view, which I find charming as heck.
5. Romance. Sure, there’s a romance! There is an instant attraction, but the relationship doesn’t happen instantaneously – it falls somewhere between insta-love and slow-burn. This is a Forbidden Love. There is also another guy, Neil…the guy that Claire crushed on for years before Alec showed up. Neil never gave her a glance until Alec came to town, then suddenly he loved her too. So I suppose I should mention that there is a twinge of a triangle, but throughout the whole book, Claire pretty much only has eyes for Alec. Poor Neil.
Overall, I enjoyed Forbidden. The story was fun, the pacing was great, and the angelic paranormal element was new and fresh for me. I love how the authors wrapped the story up, so it works as a standalone. HOWEVER, I personally would certainly welcome more…
I think the ending gives a great opportunity to expand a little. In a sea of readers who enjoy standalone books, I am one who loves a well-written series. Either way would be fine with me.
I am thrilled to have finally read a book by Syrie James and I am honored to be able to share my thoughts with everyone. I like what she did with Forbidden, but I can imagine that if I like this book, I would love her adult fiction titles. I can’t wait to seek them out…like right now.
If you love paranormal stories dealing with angels, Forbidden is one for your wish list. If you love romance, here is a great romance story! If you like books with music written into the story, here’s one for your to-be-read list. It is totally age-appropriate and works well for younger as well as more mature YA audiences, and I even think adults would enjoy it.