‘So nothing is taboo any more?’ I interrupt. ‘You’re saying there are no two people who, if they
love each other enough, should be forced apart?’
Francie thinks for a moment and then shrugs. ‘I guess not. Not here, anyway, thank God. We’re lucky enough to live in a country which is pretty open-minded. As long as one person isn’t forcing the other one, then I guess any love is allowed.’
Forbidden is probably one of the most provocative YA novels there is in the market right now. It can be difficult to stomach for some readers as it focuses around one of the oldest taboo in the world right now; incest. Aside from that 80s YA novel (I forgot the title) that is famous for its portrayal of incestuous relationships, I have been wondering whether there will be any authors who would be brave enough to tackle on this topic, especially when it requires them to delve into that sort of emotions and almost taking a neutral perspective on the whole matter.
Often I encountered novels that play with the idea of incest but it is never a full-on incest (if you know what I mean) because most of the situations are still legal and possible. That's why when I came across Forbidden last year, I was really intrigued and could not believe my eyes. Finally an author who takes up the challenge. And to make matters more interesting, it is a YA novel.
Although I think certain parties would debate where they would place Forbidden.
Lochan (17) and Maya (16) are responsible for taking care the rest of their siblings after their father abandoned the family. The situation got harder when they have to deal with an alcoholic mother who is busy chasing other men. They relied on each other as they become surrogate parents to their younger siblings but their sibling love turned out to be so much more when foreign emotions start to take over the two.
The story is told in alternating POVs. I'm not a big fan of alternating POVs because I love the suspense of not knowing what the other think but for Forbidden I think it is crucial for us to know the thoughts of Lochie and Maya. To see their thoughts on delving into something so... forbidden.
Oddly enough, I understand. I understand their feelings for each other, and their struggle to do the right thing. But how can they ignore their feelings when they only have each other to rely on? Readers can draw upon the lack of adult supervision in their situation that eventually lead to this sin. Even though the characters denied this fact and insisted that they never had any sort of sibling feelings for each other in the first place. Which makes it even more heartbreaking for me.
The portrayal of the characters are raw and very much real. Suzuma makes it impossible to hate these characters; we might even end up cheering for this couple. It's true when people say, "You will never know how I feel until you've been in my shoes" and Forbidden will make you cry for this couple because you know what it feels to be in their shoes. I dont think it is a big deal if you find yourself defending the couple because from the start of the novel, it is apparent that these two are never brother and sister. I often find myself forgetting that they are brother and sister and see them more like a star-crossed lovers of the legal kind (if that makes sense).
I love Lochie. At first I thought he would be annoying but my love for him grew with every page turned. His tragic view of the world is so heartbreaking that you would just want to hug him. But this is balanced out with his immense love for his family. A self-less character that is so flawed and tragic that makes him perfect for Maya. Maya is an exact opposite of Lochie with her optimism and how she presents herself to the world. But you will later find that they are both so similar that their similarity and differences make them perfect for each other. Thus the BIG question would be why? Why is the world so unfair?
Now to the more technical aspect of the novel: I'm not a big fan of Suzuma's writing style. Without a controversial topic like incest, I think her novel would be very bland. And her metaphors or analogies are quite weak and not well thought out. I would get the basic idea but they are a bit too amateur-ish. I think Forbidden would be the only novel I'll read from Suzuma.
However Suzuma provides a good balance of emotions for such a difficult topic: the balance of disgust and struggle coupled with an exciting romance is perfect.
I don't think Forbidden is a pro-incest novel. I think to see it like that would be so shallow and undermines the credibility of the novel. Which is why I highly recommend for you to read this book and draw your own opinions on this topic. For me, Forbidden shows us that things are never as black and white as it seems.