Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Review - Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

By Tabitha Suzuma
Definitions, 418 pages
Published: May 27th 2010

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.

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.

- Goodreads description

4.5 out of 5

Let me start by saying that every copy of this book should come with a pack of tissues. I cried like a baby.

This won't be everyone's cup of tea. In fact, the subject matter will probably put the majority of people off it. Since I finished the book I've read a lot of other reviews to see what other people thought, and most of them tend to not actually be reviews, but comments on how they'll never read the book because of the relationship between the characters, or readers opinions on how 'sick' it and people who like it are. We all know there's an incest ick factor, and while it did make me squirm a bit at first, it was well handled, and written in a way that didn't glorify it. We know it's wrong and we know it can't end well (admittedly I didn't expect that kind of ending!). If these characters had been written as friends, or any other non-related acquaintantces I don't doubt that there'd be more rave reviews for it. But it also wouldn't be as poignant, or as heartbreaking.

There are no words to describe how phenomenal I think this book is. Given the subject matter, it could easily have come off as sordid and 'wrong', but it was brilliantly conceived and beautifully executed.

The characters are wonderfully written, you can't help but develop an emotional connection with them, and really care about what they are going through. Even the minor characters (while some make decisions with devastating consequences) you can't help but feel for.

The relationship between Maya & Lochan isn't normal. We know it's wrong, they know it's wrong, heck even the blurb tells us it's wrong, but despite all that you can't help being drawn in by this couple and wanting them to have the love they crave. And it is love. Not some weird obsession, but love. This is the forbidden love of all time. You can keep your Edwards & Bellas, this is so much more intense & evocative.

This tale of one of the biggest taboos out there has been written brilliantly. While we are reminded throughout that they are siblings, that's never seen as the most important thing. That title goes to the strength of their love, that eventhough it's impossible is maintained throughout. It's a testament to Suzuma's writing that as the reader you feel compelled to agree with them that they should be free to love eachother as they wish, as opposed to feeling that they should be stopped.

My only (tiny) peeve about this book is the ending. It was so heartbreaking, and I really wanted to see more about how it affected the other siblings. Yes, it is written from Maya's POV, but I didn't feel like the other brothers and sister were shown as being in the same place emotionally, like I would've expected them to be after that conclusion.

Seriously though folks, major tissue warning for the end of this book.

I think the important thing to take away from this book (or to take into consideration when wondering whether or not to read it) is the message it sends about intolerance. I don't think anyone will sit down after reading this and say 'yes, their love was 100% right, how dare people not see that'. Despite what I've put earlier in this review, that's not my opinion either. What I think however, is that anyone who reads this will agree that ultimately, intolerance was what destroyed this couple. Maybe if the other characters in the book had thought about what would and had happened before jumping straight to horror then things would have ended differently. That philosophy can be applied to pretty much any situation going. What I'm basically trying to say is tolerance is key, with a little more tolerance in the world, maybe there would be more shades of grey, and less pain and hatred. That's one of the big things I brought away from this book.


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