Forbidden by Syrie James and Ryan M James follows the recent trend for paranormal romance between angels and humans, and also follows the typical plot of a young adult novel. However, in my opinion this novel might follow stereotypical American YA fiction plotlines a little too closely, making it suited to a younger reader, with not as much enjoyment for a slightly older readership.
The plotline of Forbidden resembles other recent YA fiction, with the main character, Claire Brennan, holding a scholarship to an exclusive private school where her grades are top of every class. She is sixteen, and has just started her period when psychic ‘gifts’ begin to manifest, allowing her to see past and future events whilst touching certain items or people. Alec MacKenzie takes the typical role of the mysterious newcomer to the school, also top of every class, and who takes a particular interest in Claire from his arrival on campus. He is a Grigori, or an ‘angel’, who has gone AWOL from his duties to prevent newly-awakeneds from becoming Fallens (what we might call the dark side to Alec’s good), with dangerous repercussions if his location is discovered by the Elders.
Protagonist Claire is mostly likeable, but I often got infuriated with her teenage worries, as at times she seems incredibly whiney, turning her attention to a homecoming princess campaign in the middle of important events despite claiming to have no interest in the prize. She is a half-blood, half-Grigori, half-human, the first to be born for thousands of years, her mere existence being forbidden, and is the reason she is being hunted by the Grigori. Her relationship with her friends seems incredibly unrealistic, as she tells her best friends Brian and Erica everything about her new gifts and Alec’s true nature, despite being told to keep it a secret.
As for Alec, he is apparently ‘sexy, powerful, brilliant, fascinating… and frightening… all at the same time’. Sound too good to be true? You might be right. He is seemingly good at everything, featuring few flaws that I can think of, always turning up to protect Claire when she needs him. His identity as a Grigori is compromised and full of secrecy, which he seemingly reveals to Claire without question, despite any kind of relationship between them being forbidden. It seems highly unrealistic that a Grigori would just reveal their secrets to a human so easily, and several aspects to his character, as well as certain events, make the novel seem very similar to Twilight, not a factor I found at all appealing.
Overall, I could take or leave this book, as it was an easy read and I did enjoy the romance elements between Alec and Claire, but the teenage elements just took away all enjoyment for me. I don’t have a problem with YA fiction being set in a high school, but the characters were just difficult to connect with and some of the plot points just too obvious for me to enjoy. The story has been left open for future books, but as yet it is unclear if there will be a sequel, and I am unsure if I actually want to continue Claire and Alec’s story.
I enjoyed the principle of this book, and enjoyed certain events, particularly the build up to the conclusion and the romance scenes between Alec and Claire. However, the book just felt too typically teenage for me to enjoy it fully, with the high school setting and subplots of the homecoming princess campaign seeming too stereotypical and unnecessary.
BUY YOUR COPY