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Following the Leader (Amber J.)

Just along for the ride

Forbidden - Tabitha Suzuma Apparently, the book jacket of this novel is covered with a clear layer of adhesive film -- thin as velum. I know this, because as I got closer to the Epilogue, it began to peel at the edges near the binding, revealing the bright red paper fraying underneath. I need to mention this because the physical condition of the book perfectly mirrors the state I'm in, after having just finished this novel. Tabitha Suzuma's words soar off the page and wrap themselves around your heart, with descriptions so real and evocative that you have no choice but to be transported to 62 Bexham Road, and immersed in the world of Forbidden. So by the end of this 454 page journey, just like my poor book, I feel like my skin has been scratched, picked at, and pulled back, exposing the burning layer of raw flesh underneath, and someone has taken a taser to it just for good measure lol, leaving me stunned and writhing on the floor. With that said lol, here are some of the coherent thoughts I've managed to pull together about this painfully splendid work of art:1. Lochan. I cannot write that name enough -- and all its derivatives: Lochan, Lochie, Loch...Lochan. He has got to have the most beautiful spirit of any character I've ever read about in my life. Suzuma writes him perfectly: so strong yet so fragile; intellectually gifted yet socially inept; fiercely protective of his siblings; hopelessly devoted to Maya; and always teetering on the edge of sanity.2. I have never cried over a book...ever. But, this novel made me come close to tears on several occasions: pages 238-242 almost did me in lol. (Listening to "Nightminds" by Missy Higgins, on repeat, while reading probably didn't help the situation lol).3. I loved that the relationship between Maya and Lochan took a natural and staggered progression: they acknowledged their feelings but also tried to repress them; they embraced their love but were also repulsed by it; they lived in fear of being caught but couldn't bear to be apart from each other. Suzuma writes with such effortless beauty that Lochan and Maya's inner monologues are always empathic and engaging; and their conversations never feel forced or preachy.4. I did NOT like the ending. I get that we're supposed to learn our actions have consequences, but there must be a way to do that without sacrificing someone and feeding them to the wolves =( I was falling in love with this book until: "Then, from the doorway, comes a shattering scream." After that, I just kept saying "NOOOO!!" until the end, and I walked away from this novel feeling hopeless and devastated *sigh* lol. Even the sliver of hope (if you want to call it that) that we're left with in the end wasn't enough.5. I wasn't that crazy about Maya until the very end. I feel like, for most of the novel, she was the aggressor, and didn't really respect Lochan's boundaries. And she was quite manipulative at one point, which caused Lochan to have the panic attack of the century :( Not cool. But I definitely think she redeemed herself in the end through her displays of loyalty and strength.6. I read every single page of a book from cover to cover. So when I saw the author say "during the many times I wanted to give up" in her Acknowledgments, I was so grateful that she persevered, because I can't imagine this novel not being in the world. Kudos to Tabitha Suzuma for having the guts (and the heart) to write this amazing story, and to Random House UK and Simon & Schuster for having the cojones to publish it.7. Lesson Learned: always, always, LOCK THE DOOR lol.