7:18 AM

ForbiddenForbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rating: 4 Stars

I finished this book at about 3AM in the morning, in which after that I lie awake in bed for a full 3 hours trying to get to sleep and end up typing out this review instead. Safe to say, this story left its mark on me. There's a bazillion things going around in my mind thanks to this book and I can't say that I'm not at least a little bit traumatized by this experience. But it was not a horrible experience, as I had feared it to be. Just that, right now, I feel as if I've been mind-raped and heart-broken. All over a book.

The story is as simple as the synopsis suggests. It's about a boy and a girl who fell in love. Only problem was that they happened to be brother and sister. And it is told in that manner. In the manner that their biological relation comes second to their greater love for each other. Like it's an inconvenient truth that becomes the biggest obstacle they had to endure. Lochian (the boy) is a smart and handsome boy, but he is also a deeply disturbed one. He is burdened with the weight of his familial duties thanks to a drunk, useless mother and a father that left them. An extreme introvert, he struggles to trust others outside of his family. Maya (the girl) is a bubbly, fun-loving girl who was forced to grow up quickly in order to fill in the position that her mother left vacant too often. Robbed of a proper childhood, these two siblings are the helm, trying to keep their family of 5 (they have 2 younger brothers and a youngest sister) together.

The writing is very well done, as Tabitha Suzuma writes from both perspectives of Lochian and Maya, alternating between each one. I felt that this is necessary so that the readers know the inner thoughts of each character and for us to realize the extent of their love for each other and that it is mutual. While there were a couple of family routine scenes that I felt were one too many, I realize that it is necessary to show the dynamics of the family and how each character within functioned. It's pretty crazy. Also, I felt that some aspects such as Lochian's thoughts and their love was described in a fashion that was too melodramatic. Other than that, she made their relationship convincing and genuine, which is part of the reason why it's so scary. 'Cos it seems so real.

Under the circumstances, I understand why Lochian and Maya fell in love. They had literally no one to turn to but each other. And their family and life is seriously screwed up. But I find myself having conflicted feelings because, while I do understand, I can't truly accept it and their physical intimacy made me squirm (more than a few times). But not once did I doubt their love. They were so dependent on one another such that I felt that one wouldn't exist without the other. While Lochian's love was obsessive (he literally can't breathe without her), Maya's was possessive (unable to see him with any girl). They are so close that their own love consumes them, and I am overwhelmed by it.

Truly it overwhelms me.

Other characters were were not developed as fully, not being the center of attention. I despised Kit, the first younger brother for his self-centered teenage ways. He lacked the maturity that his even younger siblings had, and even though he developed as a character. In the end, it was his own selfishness that brought the family down.

I felt that even though Lochian was the one shouldering the greater burden of school and raising the family, I think mentally and emotionally, Maya was stronger. Lochian had some serious mental issues. Extreme nervousness and being a complete social introvert had him being alienated by everyone else. So he never belonged outside of his home. Even then, he had the tendency to jump into the worst scenarios in his head and gives himself panic attacks. His thoughts and feelings are so extreme that at times, I struggle to empathize with him. He whines a whole lot and gets really emo about everything in life. Yet he pulls himself together and made it through several ugly situations and more than once saves his family from being hauled to Social Service. He was the protector of the family and his love for Maya runs so deep, it is there in every breath he takes. I think he depends on Maya far more than Maya depends on him.

Maya is a great character and I think the most relateable in the story. She is the peacemaker, the calm one and the one that preserves the sanity of each family member. Constantly consoling and talking sense into each one, she shows great maturity but still with hints of playfulness, especially when with Lochian. I think her character makes the biggest journey and change from start to finish 'cos by the end of it, she's a much stronger person.

There were no real climaxes to the story until the very end, where I find myself literally at the edge of my seat and biting my lips with anticipation. Instead the book is mostly filled with the lives of these two protagonists. There is something about Tabitha Suzuma's writing that makes it as though their experiences were my own. And that the character's memories are mine. It's quite unnerving. Towards the end, some phrases and words just trigger instant images in my head of Lochian's and Maya's memories as if they were my own flashbacks. That made me feel so much more for the characters than I would have been comfortable with. And it made me emotionally vulnerable to everything that happened in the end. So vulnerable that it left me quite shattered and emotionally drained.

This is one INTENSE book. Everyone is seriously flawed and messed up. I don't recommend picking it up unless you are mentally and emotionally prepared and venture with an open mind. Even after finishing it, I still struggle to comprehend how two siblings who grew up together can feel this way and my own moral judgements impedes when some sexual scenes were described. Yet, I can't say that I don't feel their love for one another. So I am still conflicted, confused and left questioning a billion things. I can just conclude that this is something no one can fully understand and fully iterate without experiencing it themselves. But I applaud Tabitha Suzuma for her admirable efforts and for a truly heart-breaking, thought-provoking story.

Recommended, but read at your own caution.

View all my reviews

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