Tuesday, September 20

Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee

(This review is spoiler free)

Peace has reigned on Earth for hundreds of years.  But that peace came at a steep price – a virus that was designed to strip humanity of all emotions save for fear.  There is a group, known as the Keepers, who seek to restore humanity to its full potential.  They guard a vial of blood which will restore humanity to any who consume it.  Rom has the vial thrust suddenly upon him, and not knowing what to expect he drinks of the blood.  What do you do when to be alive is forbidden?

Many reviewers have already been comparing Forbidden to the Circle series, which contain some of Dekker’s most well-known books.  The similarities are quite striking.  Once Rom and his friends drink of the blood, their relation to those who are dead seems very similar to the Forest Guard/Scab relations.  Each side thinks they are right and that the other side has lost something.


Unfortunately, Forbidden wasn't as enjoyable or deep as the Circle trilogy.  Though it opens with a chase sequence, I found the beginning of the novel to be very slow paced.  It took me nearly 2/3rds the length of the book before I felt myself being drawn into the story and being connected to the story.

Another problem was that it seemed to be very exposition heavy.  None of the main characters have ever exhibited emotions other than fear, and when they first drink they are overwhelmed by the new feelings.  Unfortunately, we are nearly always told what they are feeling and rarely shown.  On top of that, I found it unrealistic (within the world) for the characters to be able to identify and name the emotions as easily as they did, and how soon they were able to adapt to them.  Even beyond the emotions, there were too many times that the rule “show, don’t tell” was broken, which sometimes made it hard to connect to characters or action sequences.

The world itself felt very scattered and I had a hard time picturing it.  It takes place hundreds of years in the future, yet it is not technologically advanced.  They still have electricity and small amounts of motor vehicles, but too often it felt as if I was reading a medieval setting.  This was particularly strange when I would find references to electricity or radios and have to remind myself of the true setting.

Leading up to the release of Forbidden I was excited to see Dekker joining with Lee.  Lately, Dekker’s fantasies have left me extremely unsatisfied (especially Immanuel’s Veins).  Tosca Lee’s Demon: a Memoir was one of the more thought provoking novels I’ve read in the past year.  However, while reading Forbidden I felt as if most of the story was Dekker’s.  Yes, I could see where Lee’s writing meshed well with Dekker’s, however the characters and the storyline felt very Ted Dekker-ish.  The personality of Rom and his friends seemed too similar to characters from the Circle series and The Lost Books series.  Even the villain gave off a strong Ted Dekker-villain vibe, though his character was also one of the shallowest.

The redeeming part of this novel was the last third of the book.  Some of the twists were completely unexpected, but kept me turning the page.  Dekker and Lee made some bold decisions which I did not expect, but really enjoyed, when it came to some of the character arcs.  When the end came I wanted to know what was coming next.

In the end, I think Forbidden got off to a very rocky start, but by the end I was left wanting to know what happens next.  I only hope the next book is able to avoid the weaker elements of Forbidden and truly make the story soar.

3/5 stars

Check out my reviews of other Dekker books:
Green
Immanuel's Veins
The Priest's Graveyard

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