Monday, 26 July 2010

Review: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Dear Blog,
I finished Forbidden yesterday and, well, it's kind of hard writing a review of it without just typing Ohmywordohmyword for the whole entry.  I need to explain everything in a logical, book-reviewer sort of way.

Summary (from Goodreads): Sixteen-year-old Maya and seventeen-year-old Lochan have never had the chance to be 'normal' teenagers. Having pulled together for years to take care of their younger siblings while their wayward, drunken mother leaves them to fend alone, they have become much more than brother and sister. And now, they have fallen in love. But this is a love that can never be allowed, a love that will have devastating consequences ...How can something so wrong feel so right?

Review: This is, understandably, a very edgy and controversial subject matter.  I first heard about it after reading a synopsis on somebody's Waiting on Wednesday post.  I forget whose it was blog it was, actually, so to whoever it was: you are the most awesome blogger ever for introducing me to one of the most mind-blowing books I have ever read. Anyway.  Even though I finished it last night, it's been on my mind ever since, and I'm really not sure where I ought to start. There's so much I want to say- so much to say- about Forbidden, my mind is in a whirlwind of thoughts.  Where to begin?  These 418 pages pack so much into them, but I raced through it in a day and a half.  Yes, it was difficult to read, but at the same time I tore through it to find out what would happen.

Well, the story alternates points of view between Lochan and Maya, which I think works really well for the story; you get to hear what both of them are thinking, how they really feel about one another.  Although, I guess, Lochan and Maya's voices sounded kind of adult considering that they were meant to be teenagers, and their voices didn't sound incredibly distinctive from one another.  This is something that happens quite often in a dual-narrative novel, but I can overlook this, I think, because the subject matter and the way it's handled is so excellent.

I can't remember the last time I felt so torn when reading a book.  One part of me desperately wanted for Lochan and Maya to be together for the rest of their lives, and I desperately hoped that they could, even though I knew that there wouldn't or couldn't be a happy ending.  I couldn't help but think: Why can't they be together?  Because, well, it's a free country isn't it? But the other half of me was squirming and thinking, eeeeeeeew!  I guess that the human brain has just got used to thinking that a relationship between a brother and sister is wrong.  In which case, it's a very disturbing book and gets your brain thinking about right and wrong.

The relationship between Lochan and Maya isn't even there at the beginning of the book. Their love develops very, very slowly, but you can see it getting bigger and bigger until it finally emerges, at which point you almost want to start cheering. It's tender, sexy, realistic, romantic and just so right, and in such moments you throw aside all thoughts about it being sick, twisted, gross, etc. But when they realise it's wrong, it dawns on the reader, too. 

It's not just their forbidden relationship that Lochie and Maya have to worry about. With their mother neglecting them more and more until she almost totally abandons them, three younger siblings to take care of, A levels and university looming, everything seems to be falling apart.  I couldn't make up my mind whether or not I liked Kit, their 13-year-old brother.  I know he was a pain to Lochan and Maya, but, well, I think what I felt for him was more pity than anything else. Willa, their 5-year-old little sister, was particularly sweet.  It was just so tragic that Lochan and Maya had to deal with all of it.

Strangely, I think that although there is a dual narrative, the book seems to be focused slightly more on Lochan out of the two, although Maya is probably my favourite character in the book because...she changes.  All good characters ought to develop and change and learn as they go along.  Not that I didn't like Lochan- he was clever, sweet and three-dimensional despite his social anxiety. 

And the ending?  Oh my word. It's devastating, heartbreaking, tragic, depressing, and...hopeful? Ish?  Right at the ending, the slight glimmer of wonder and joy made me want to curl up in a little ball and burst into tears, but I think I was too emotionally drained to even do that.  Forbidden is that powerful- after reading it you just feel like a big, empty void, uncapable of any emotions because they've been sucked out of you.  The last chapter before the epilogue...holy macaroni.  That's all I can  say. In my desperation for there to be some sudden twist in the plot to make everything turn out for the better, I didn't really realises the consequences of Lochan's actions.  But no more can I say, lest I start babbling and give everything away. 

Kudos for Tabitha Suzuma for dealing with such a tricky subject.  Who could have done it better? The answer is, probably nobody.

In five words (because Forbidden deserves more than three) : a disturbing, devastating emotional rollercoaster. 

Reccomended for: teens (probably older teenagers, as some parts of it are a bit, erm...graphic) and adults who don't mind the edgy and difficult subject matter.
Rating: 5, of course!

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