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Forbidden (The Books of Mortals)
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Showing 1-10 of 25 reviews(3 star). See all 300 reviews
on September 20, 2011
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
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on December 12, 2011
I enjoyed this book, once I got into it. The names of the characters are unusual, and it took me a chapter or two to feel comfortable enough to follow what was going on and suspend my disbelief. It's hard for me to place this novel in a particular genre. It's not really Sci/Fi. Not really fantasy, at least as I understand it. Maybe a cautionary tale.

I am looking forward to reading the other books in this trilogy and am glad to find out that the second book will be out next year. Really, that is not long to wait for a novel to come out -- at all. Forbidden has the descriptive qualities that Tosca Lee is known for - and I love that. This is the first Ted Dekker book I have read, so I don't have anything to compare his portion of the book to. But now I know that I like his stuff, I will seek out his novels in the future.

***Special thanks to Sarah Reck, Web Publicist FaithWords & Center Street Hachette Book Group, for sending me a review copy.***
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on August 3, 2014
Over a thousand years ago emotions held sway over the world. People were ruled by their emotions, love, fear, hate... The Age of Chaos was ended when a new order was out into place, one that controlled emotions and eradicated that chaos from the world and the memories of all those living. The only emotion left under the rule of the Order is fear.

Rom happens upon a journal that contains a vial of blood folded inside it. Rom watches a man murdered in front of him for having this journal and is confused on what to do. Murder no longer exists now that there is order. To kill one out in public like that means the journal must be important. Rather then giving the journal back, and giving himself up to be killed in the process, Rom runs. Rom slowly begins to realize the danger that he is in. He discovers that emotions other than fear were wiped out long ago and that people are essentially in a state of living death since they are emotionless. Rom takes some of the blood in the vial and begins to wake, to feel true emotion. It's then that his true journey begins.

Interesting story. It has a lot of good points to it, but some of the narrative was a bit long winded. I wish there was a bit more resolution in this book. Instead, it seemed to set the reader up more for continuing with the other books in the series. I'm not sure I'll be picking up any more in the series, but it was still a decent read.
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on December 26, 2011
I've been a Ted DeKker fan from the beginning. Same goes with Tosca Lee. There's nothing about these guys that I really don't enjoy or appreciate. The only chink in the armor was DeKker's "Sinner," and I was disappointed in that effort, along with a lot of other readers. When "Forbidden" came onto the scene, we were promised that this wouldn't be another "Circle," and it wasn't. But to my surprise, this was as predictable as it gets. Even if Ted and Tosca were writing every other word, there was hardly anything that I DIDN'T see coming. So I wasn't entirely satisfied. But I'm still looking forward to seeing how it plays out in future installments!

Hello, World! Meet Rom. Rom, meet the unexpected that you never figured existed! This really starts off like a shot, and it doesn't hesitate to give the reader suspense. Rom runs into somebody who gives him a vial of blood, and a cryptic vellum. That means the message has to be decoded. But the blood opens up something Rom has no experience in, and that's the gift of emotion. All of a sudden, Rom experiences love, hate, sadness, and more! Everything Rom has known is about to be thrown away in pursuit of something greater. That's the risk you take, especially if you dare drink the blood!

What really wasn't a risk was reading this. But I really wasn't expecting it to be so predictable. Where you're supposed to say, "WOW," I was usually saying, "Oh, ok. That was easy. Now what?" But DeKker and Lee fix that so that by the end, you have to wonder what's coming next. And in case you didn't know, yes, I did see a cliffhanger ending. I'm just hoping that Ted DeKker and Tosca Lee really surprise me with some shock and awe the next time around. Those are the authors I'm used to, and that's exactly what I want to read!

If you have yet to read this, I really don't want to spoil what might be an amazing adventure to another reader. Most reviewers on here think this is the next best thing. I personally thought "The Priest's Graveyard" was incredible. I suppose I'm one of the odd men out this time around. Until next time...
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on December 28, 2011
I guess, knowing Ted is best-selling and Tosca is just amazing, I expected this book would be stellar. It isn't. I wish it was.

I'm a bit surprised to see how many 5-star reviews this has gotten. I was thinking about giving it 4 stars, hoping the ending would be surprising and exciting enough to merit the extra star, but after the climax, the only feeling I got was "...Huh? Oh. I guess that makes sense ... "

The main concept of the plot (not the plot itself) was probably the high point of the book. The whole "living dead" and the fact that no one really knows their dead was brilliant. Loved it. Also, I loved the parallels, of course, like how the Keepers seemed to represent OT saints.

The story itself was not remarkable, seeming short and simple, and somehow not ... epic enough. I don't like not being able to pinpoint what made it unexceptional, but for some reason it wasn't. However the story did have potential for to be truly deep, complex and excellent. And I think it'll get better with the next book. We'll see. As it was, one reason the story suffered was because it wasn't supported by a cast of characters which we really knew.

The book was definitely plot-driven. I think it really could've been strong in both plot and character. Yes, it would have been longer and it would've been completely worth it. The extremely low level of my affection for the characters was probably my biggest complaint. While still "dead," they have an excuse to be no different from each other. But once their emotions were given back to them, the authors were so focused on the fact that they actually felt them that they didn't show us anything else about the characters.

This really bothered me. I really, really wanted to love Rom, believe me. But I couldn't. I didn't know who he was. The only difference between him and Avra, that I could see, was that he was braver than her. I'm not even kidding. This affects the book so much, especially in moments like Rom on the ledge, holding up [someone's] heart and screaming. That could have been such an incredible moment, but it just felt strange to me because I didn't really know Rom. I didn't feel like I was right there beside him.

One reason I didn't feel the intimacy with the characters is because of the viewpoint style. It was supposed to be Rom's viewpoint and then Feyn's viewpoint, etc., but then suddenly after hearing Rom's thoughts, we get a brief on the history of the town. It was like we jumped out fom Rom's head so the narrator could tell us something we "needed to know." Never mind that we're still supposed to be from Rom's viewpoint and he would never be thinking the town's history at that moment.

Take for instance what we had to know about Avra's scars. She trips on her dress - why? Just so we can go through a long telling paragraph about what happened to her. With their newly awakened emotions, what an opportunity to have them begin an argument (where they'd have an excuse to say things they both know, but we don't) or she becomes grateful for what he did for her, for the first time. Either of those could've has shown us about the scars without just straight out pausing the story and telling us.

As far as the overall writing style goes, I have to say first off that I've read all (2) of Tosca's books, but nothing of Ted's. I didn't recognize Tosca's writing as much as I thought I would, which was a little bummer since she's the reason I bought the book. The writing wasn't bad, though. Aside from the viewpoint and telling ...

To end on a positive note, I will admit it was difficult for me to put the book down, and I finished it in two and a half days. But past-paced-ness didn't make up for much.

Before I end this I have to say one more thing that lowered the book's excellence. The details about the deaths. It seemed a lot of women died especially - and I'm not complaining about that. I'm complaining about the way they describe the blood pouring out of whoever's throat it is. If that is supposed to make the story more gritty or realisitc, let me just say it didn't. It disturbed me and seemed ... beneath them somehow to portray it like that. No, far from adding to realism, it detracted from the redeeming value.

Don't buy this book if
- you're looking for excellent fiction. Sorry. Go read Tosca's "Demon."

Buy this book if
- You're much less picky than I am. I am a book snob, so there's probably a 60% chance you'll really enjoy this book.
- You're really, really like one of the authors. I bought this because I own every book Tosca has written and I couldn't not read this. So if you're insatiably curious, buy it. It was nice to read, I guess. Just don't expect anything amazing.
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on March 30, 2012
I generally like both Ted Dekker's and Tosca Lee's books. Dekker's certainly aren't high literature, but they're fun reads. I was sort of expecting more from this one, but it's a "Dekker book." Which is to say, I enjoyed it, but it didn't knock me out. Great premise, interesting story. I wish the characters had been better developed. I really didn't care that much for anyone in it, so I didn't care what happened to them. I saw some sparks of excellent prose, which is more like Tosca Lee. Too bad she didn't have a stronger hand at shaping the prose (I'm just guessing that Dekker did a lot of rewriting of Tosca's writing, based on so much of it leaning the Dekker direction, more than what I read of Lee's). Overall, glad I read it, and I'll read the net book in the series.
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on September 13, 2012
I've just finished reading Forbidden and I felt that something was missing.


I liked the analogy between Jonathan and Jesus Christ. I love how Dekker portrays Him in a very fun and wise manner, but by the time I finished reading I felt there should be more about it.

The theology behind this is a little weird, I know I haven't read the following books, but this one made me feel a little empty. I found myself kind of struggling with the idea that in the future of our world another Christ-like figure need to appear and save humanity all over again... It just feels weird because Jesus Christ is and allway's will be the one and only savior. This type of theology can be found in lots of non-christian books and movies and if the authors do not specify what they're writing about, it can clearly pass as a secular story.

But I get this is some sort of allegory and it's fiction, ok.

I felt this had too much description of passionate kissing for a Christian book, also the passions Saric goes thrugh, while not deliberately explained, made me pray at the scenes where I felt it was too tempting to imagine. I also felt a little angry and insensible after reading some of Saric's violence towards women.

And there was the blood. Picturing Rom hitting that man with his shord over and over and over made me feel sick and dizzy.

I like some of Dekker's books. I'm currently reading the Circle series and I find it very interesting, even when the theology behind it (the Christ saving humanity all over again while story repeats itself)it's a little weird. But again, it's fiction and the best part of that series is thatyou can clearly see the characters putting together the pieces between Elyon and God.

Over all, I liked the setting of Forbidden. The futuristic city, the world leaders plot, the elegant yet totally death feel that you get at the fortress, and Jonathan's first encounter with Rom made it a comfortable read. But I would not recomend it because some people may find it a little tempting with it's sensual descriptions and with too much violence and blood (at least for my taste).

Hope Ted and Tosca continue writing but I would recomend for them to pray before they do, read some of the scripture and let God take the story wherever he wants to take it.
I really really hope they let Him write the stories, and not be them including Him in their book.
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on August 9, 2012
I bought this book based on the number of positive/glowing reviews and was pretty excited to read. The book has a great central concept that could have made for an excellent story. Unfortunately the authors spent more time rushing through the plot and very little time fleshing out the characters. I just didn't really care what happened to the characters which completely deflated some of the bigger reveals/twists in the book. The authors rely too much on telling you why a character did or felt something, instead of building the reader's understanding of the characters motivations via a well told story. I found it a bit of a chore to finish the book though I did finish. The ending was underwhelming and I will not be reading the rest of the series, just not interested enough. Not a horrible book, just did not live up to the hype.
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on September 20, 2011
Face paced, exciting, adventurous with just enough romance to make it interesting. A very well done futuristic story of a society that eliminates all emotions except fear in order to keep "Order" after the terrible wars that killed so many. Rom is pulled into the "Keepers" society by witnessing a murder, which is unheard of in the last 480 years. As the keeper is dying he gives Rom a box. Inside that box is something that will not only change Rom's life forever, but that of 4 friends, 3 families, the governing body of the world and a 9 year old boy.
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on April 29, 2014
Being a big fan of Tosca Lee"s books I thought this trilogy sounded like something I would love to read. I was going to buy all 3 books at once then decided to just buy 1 at a time. A good decision on my part. Although I finished the book, I really didn't care what happened in the 2 remaining books. This was my first Ted Dekker book. He might be a good writer but I think both missed the mark with this. Try Demon, Havah, or Iscariot by Tosca Lee. What insight, loved them!
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