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I Belong

Review: Forbidden by Syrie James & Ryan James

Title: Forbidden

Author: Syrie James & Ryan James

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Series: N/A

Publication Date: January 24, 2012

Format: Paperback, 410 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062027891 (Harper Teen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062027894 (Harper Teen)

Reviewed by: Emmy


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?

Quick & Dirty: Stereotypical characters fall into the YA trope of insta-love, but with an angel mythos that has an interesting twist to it.

Opening Sentence: It had been a really crappy morning.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

The premise of the novel was interesting, even if the angel mythology isn’t anything new. It’s got a few interesting twists that I enjoyed, but for the most part it’s got the same staples as most YA paranormals. The strongest part of the novel was the characters. I loved that Claire isn’t a social outcast or Ms. Popular, the two extremes already plentiful in this type of story. The friends she does have are brilliant. They’re fun, loveable, and hilarious, but they’re also smart and trustworthy. Claire tells them everything, even the crazy, and they want to help her.

At first I thought the title Forbidden was about Alec and Claire’s romance, but it isn’t. It’s about Claire and her life and the fact that she really, really shouldn’t exist. I didn’t like the way the author kept what she was from us so much of the story — I think it was an attempt at adding tension-filled mystery — because we know something’s wrong, we know about the angels, so just tell us already! But Claire’s sweet and crushing on a boy who doesn’t know she’s alive, and just an all-around typical high school student. When Alec shows up, mysterious and Scottish, her feelings begin to focus on him and her crush finally looks at her, but this isn’t a love triangle like I expected. Claire is smart and level-headed and follows her heart instead of embracing the drama of having two boys. Her brain made her a great heroine to read, but why are YA heroines so intensely smart and yet idiots at the same time? The insta-love made me want to punch both Claire and Alec.

Alec is good as well, but I had a few problems. Because this is a mother and son team, and Claire and Alec are written respectively by each, they didn’t flow together. At first I thought it might add to the voice and distinguish each of them, but instead it distracted me. As a character and a love interest, he’s good though. The stereotypical “bad boy” that can only be redeemed by our intelligent heroine. He seems all confident from Claire’s POV, but we can see from him how insecure he feels about trying to be normal and fit in. Because he belongs to a very old society that he’s run away from, he turns Claire’s already odd life upside down. Claire turns up as someone the Elders need to investigate and his hiding place is outed, placing them both in danger. No matter what Claire is, Alec’s going to protect her.

This is the beginning of a trilogy, according to the authors, but their publisher only picked up the one book. I’m not sure if I believe the rest of the series will deliver enough to be picked up. This book fell back on clichés — hard. While the twist on angel mythos was interesting, it was too drawn out and despite the characters having great potential, the authors let them fall into their respective molds. If the sequel does get picked up, I hope we see more of the humor and they make an effort to turn Claire and Alec into individuals.

Notable Scene:

She yanked the phone out and glanced at the screen, fully expecting the text to be from her mom.

Instead, it was from an unknown number. All it said was:

Don’t panic.

She glanced up and saw Alec secretly working his cell phone beneath the cover of his desk. Another message arrived:

I’ll share my notes. –A

She smiled. That was nice of him. She was putting her cell phone away when the sharp rap of knuckles against glass brought her eyes back to the classroom window. She froze in horror.

FTC Advisory: HarperTeen provided me with a copy of Forbidden. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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