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?
To say that I had reservations about reading a YA romance co-written by a mother and son is putting it mildly. I’ve loved what I’ve read by Syrie James before, but this was a big gamble for me. So how did FORBIDDEN fare? Pretty well, actually. I believe Syrie wrote the chapters from Claire’s POV, while Ryan wrote the chapters from Alec’s POV. The consistency was very good, and the whole book felt cohesive and unified in a way that other co-written books often lack. And while it was suitably romantic, there wasn’t anything really new or exciting here.
FORBIDDEN draws heavy TWILIGHT comparisons right from the beginning, and while I’m a fan of TWILIGHT, I don’t really mean that as a compliment. Claire is the awkward girl who has no idea she is beautiful. She meets the enigmatic and aloof Alec at school and quickly becomes obsessed with ‘what’ he is (at one point she even pitches her theories to him, sound familiar?). There is also a scene in the school parking lot where Alec saves Claire from getting crushed by shielding her with his body and holding out his hand to stop the object from hitting her. When she asks about what happened, he totally dismisses her and essentially says she was just seeing things. There are more comparisons, but you get the idea.
The writing was good, if not as compelling as Syrie’s previous work, and TWILIGHT similarities aside, there is some interesting angel/Gregori mythology in FORBIDDEN. The pace doesn’t really drag either (although I could have done with less psychic visions, especially the ones Claire had of her mother), but neither Claire nor Alec really ever came to life for me in a way that made me care about them, and I’m never a fan of insta-love which is basically what happened here.
Unlike all of Syrie’s previous books, FORBIDDEN appears to be the first in a series (I couldn’t verify that online, but the ending is written with at least one sequel in mind). If it’s not, prepared to be frustrated by the non-ending ending. Overall, FORBIDDEN is a good but not great paranormal YA that treads some very familiar ground, but offers just enough new perspectives on angel mythology to make it worth reading for fans of HUSH, HUSH by Becca Fitzpatrick or PERSONAL DEMONS by Lisa Desrochers.
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