Book Review: Forbidden

Published By: HarperCollins
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
Page Count: 397
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Audience: Young Adult - Historical Fiction

Forbidden is an epic romance that takes place amid the swirling sands of the harsh Mesopotamian desert. Jayden is on the cusp of womanhood, but she still clings to the carefree days of youth. A family tragedy will send her spiraling towards adulthood far too quickly for her liking, but the arrival of a handsome stranger could ease her mind.

Life in the desert is not easy - especially for women. I found that Jayden's life is not one that I envy. Women in this time period were akin to property. If they didn't belong to their father then their husband was making their decisions for them. Sadly, this mentality about women persisted for centuries beyond Jayden's time. I also would have been irked that I was not allowed to marry for love. Marriages were arranged based on power and the number of camels one owned. I don't think I would have survived long in Jayden's world.

I was swept away by the imagery that Little uses to describe her setting and Jayden's culture. Little's writing is as lush and beautiful as the desert locations she describes. In addition, I was drawn to the various relationships between Jayden and others that play out through the course of the novel. I was particularly moved by the relationship between Jayden and her mother. Their bond is strong and transcends all odds. The emphasis on sister bonds was also something I found intriguing.

I liked the whole notion of things that were forbidden in this story. Not only are Jayden's feelings about her engagement forbidden, but her romantic leanings towards a handsome newcomer are also forbidden. Jayden is not allowed to express herself or act on her own desires. Everything she does must be pleasing to her father and her tribe. To indulge in her own desires would break Jayden's promise to her mother and sacrifice the only life she's ever known. Other items such as the ability to choose a religion were also forbidden in this novel. In spite of Jayden's life being in the distant past, I feel many will connect with this story because adolescent is the time when so many things feel forbidden and out of reach.

Forbidden is one of those novels that was hard to classify. I ended up labeling it historical fiction, but it doesn't read like historical fiction. The characters didn't speak the way I would have expected someone from 1759 BC to speak. I felt like this one read like a contemporary piece set in a historical time. There were historical details, but this one didn't feel like I was being immersed in a time period laden with research. I'm not sure if I enjoyed this more for not reading like a history textbook or less because I couldn't pinpoint what was historically accurate and what was from Little's imagination. 

My one major complaint is the pacing. There are some moments that reeled me in and held me captive while others had me contemplating skipping a few pages. For example, Jayden's trek with her family across the desert to the North had some moments that seemed endless. If the author's intent was to mimic the monotony of the desert crossing, she succeeded. Those moments felt like the plodding footsteps of an exhausted camel, but they paved the way for the more exciting moments later on, so in the end it was worth my effort. I fully admit that I lacked patience while reading this one at times.

I did enjoy that the setting was unique; I have never read a YA novel set in this geographic region in this time period. Forbidden will leave an exotic imprint on your mind and have you craving a conclusion to Jayden's story.

One Last Gripe: The ending - seriously?!?!?!

Favorite Thing About The Book: Jayden's romance

First Sentence: Tonight was the night of my betrothal ceremony.

Favorite Character: Jayden

Least Favorite Character: Dinah

In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden’s tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden’s turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe’s leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family’s position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden’s heart. 

Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden’s heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb’s increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden’s every move, she knows she must find a way to escape—or die trying. 

With a forbidden romance blossoming in her heart and her family’s survival on the line, Jayden must embark on a deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find a true love for herself.

Set against the brilliant backdrop of the sprawling desert, the story of Jayden and Kadesh will leave readers absolutely breathless as they defy the odds and risk it all to be together.


  1. I've been looking forward to this book for months, MONTHS!!! This sounds fantastic. I cannot wait to dive in. So glad you enjoyed it!

  2. It is really interesting that the book does not quite read like a typical historical novel. That fact actually has me even more intrigued! Thanks for the review, I really can't wait to read this one!

  3. Interesting story. My daughter's middle name is Jayden. I may have to buy a copy and put it up for her (after I read it). She's only 7 so she has quite a while before I hand it over. :)


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