Look out, Alyson Noel. Make way, Becca Fitzpatrick. Heads up, Lauren Kate. There is a spectacular new Young Adult (YA) writing team on the horizon!
Forbidden, authored by a mother and son writing team is their debut supernatural novel chocked full of intrigue, romance and humor. But whyever is a Jane Austen blog site reviewing such a book? One with not even a mention of Mr. Darcy, nor a reference to Jane Austen, nor anything remotely Regency? Simply thus. One of the authors, none other than the international best-selling author of The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen as well as the award winning The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte, Syrie James, along with her son, Ryan M. James, ventures to offer us a larger allowance of prose to our daily study.
High school sophomore, Claire Brennan is tired of constantly moving from city to city. Every time she seems to put down roots, her paranoid, seemingly hippie mother decides to pull up stakes and start anew. New city. New school. But here at Emerson Academy, in the posh Brentwood, California community, not only does Claire love her prestigious school and value the scholarship she has worked these last two years to maintain but also her two bosom buddies, Erica and Brian, whom she shares everything with. So who can blame her for not telling her mother about her newly discovered psychic powers and the visions warning her of imminent peril? Then there is Alec MacKenzie, new man on campus with the exotic Scottish accent and handsome good looks. Who is he? After he somehow saves them from being crushed by falling scaffolding… his story of being orphaned at an early age, lived all over the world with various relations and most recently emancipated from a rich uncle… seems more and more sketchy, putting Claire and her friends on high alert. “Even if you can explain away all those other things, the fact is, I saw those platforms hover for a moment in mid-fall before being tipped, I’m telling you, Alec held them up – somehow – with his mind, and he made them fall to the side. He may not be a vampire, but he’s… I don’t know… telekinetic.” p. 87
What Claire doesn’t know is Alec is a Grigori, an earthly angel bound to watch and sometimes eliminate the descendants of his angelic forefathers, and chose Emerson Academy to hide from those duties, living amongst the humans as one of them. “So, when you hugged – did you feel Alec’s heartbeat? Claire stifled a laugh. She looked at Brian from her seat and nodded emphatically, patting her chest one-handed with a rapid drumbeat. He grinned triumphantly and made his hand for her to turn the note over. She did. It read: See. Told you. He’s not a vampire.” p.118 Who would have thought Alec would end up falling in love with Claire, a newly Awakened Nephilim, a half angel, a Halfblood… one whose very existence is forbidden.
At first Alec appears aloof, but his demeanor improves on acquaintance. “Claire could feel the heat emanating from his body. Suddenly, all she could think about was that moment in her dream when he’d almost kissed her. He was looking at her now in the same way. The fear and doubt she’d been harboring began to trickle away. Whoever Alec was –whatever he was –Claire realized she wouldn’t mind if he did kiss her.” p.157 As the two discover each other, as Claire learns about her heritage and her newly discovered powers, the stakes rise and are no longer about first kisses and crushes. “If there entire relationship was against Grigori law, what would happen if they pursued it?” p.211 It seems others have discovered her existence now and the hunt is on. Alec vows to protect her from those he is escaping as well as The Fallen, the evil ones he has hunted for a century. “…what are you going to do? Turn me into your hangman committee? Have me executed?” “That’s what I should do.” Vincent finished off his wine and sighed. “But Alec has begged me to reconsider. It seems you’ve become so important to him, he’s willing to put many lives at risk. So we’ve made a deal.” p.307
If this all seems familiar, as in “We can’t be together… I’ll hurt you,” Bella and Edward from Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga; or the mysterious, handsome teenage boy romances the odd girl with new found powers, Ever and Damen from Alyson Noel’s Immortals series; or girl falling in love with angel protector with Fallen angels all about them, Nora and Patch from Becca Fitzgerald’s Hush Hush series and Daniel and Luce from Lauren Kate’s Fallen series… I can promise you it’s not a copycat novel. Yes, there may be similarities but I interpreted it as part of the genre and following angel lore. It was very much about trust, discovery, and love. I totally enjoyed this. I was entertained by the inspired prose, witty dialogue, the humorous actions and reactions, and of course, the honest, pure character development. The ending will leave you not quite hanging off a cliff by your fingernails… but I assure you, I look forward to James and James n©ext installment. This may be written for Young Adults, however, might I also suggest, for the young at heart?
4.5 out of 5 Stars
Forbidden, by Syrie James & Ryan M. James
Harper Teen (2012)
Trade paperback (416) pages
Cover image courtesy of Harper Teen © 2012; text Christina Boyd © 2012, Austenprose.com