Forbidden, written by Kimberly Griffiths Little, is a young adult historical fiction novel that follows the 16-year-old Jayden, daughter of Pharez, as she challenges the cultural traditions and social levels in the barbarous Mesopotamian desert in search for her true love. It explores various themes such as courage, family, strength, loyalty, love, and what it means to decide your own fate.
This sweeping romance begins with Jayden’s betrothal dance, a ceremony to celebrate her entrance into womanhood. She is betrothed to the young tribal prince, Horeb, who has recently been put in line for the tribe’s leadership position after the sudden death of his brother. The pair have mixed feelings for each other; Horeb’s controlling and dominant manner make Jayden uncomfortable, yet she tries to be compatible with him. But everything changes when her mother and newborn baby sister die, leaving Jayden, her father, and her sister Leila, to fend for themselves. That is when the mysterious foreign prince Kadesh comes in, who seeks their family for help. Jayden immediately feels an attraction toward Kadesh, but she neglects it, for she knows she is already betrothed. However, as the family travels along, Jayden finds her feelings for Kadesh are mutual, and as the plot progresses, Horeb discovers their secret romance. Thus begins the both mental and physical journey of Jayden and Kadesh through Mesopotamia and their attempt to escape the growing power of Horeb and the tribe while struggling to be together and cherish a forbidden love.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and all its elements. The setting and cultural aspect of the novel was good in being historically accurate, and really gives the reader a view of the hard life of our ancestors without technology or the modern tools we have today. The author does an extremely good job in characterizing Horeb, Jayden, and Leila. Horeb, in particular, is a very interesting character and Little was very proficient in revealing the hidden potential and insecurities behind his actions. She also explores the theme of inner strength with Jayden and the concept of temptations with Leila. Alongside these splendid characters, there are countless scenes of action and fights that are visually appealing to the reader, and a very suspenseful plot – the story is immensely captivating and always leaves you on the edge of your seat, longing to find out what happens next – it was very hard to put down at times!
If I were to critique one part of this book it would be the characterization of Kadesh, which I felt was very weak in my opinion. There was not much behind this character as far as any developed character background. Sure, he is a mysterious prince from a foreign land – but not much else. He is our typical “prince charming,” and not much more. However, this lack of characterization does leave an open end for the next novel in the trilogy so it may very well be covered in future books.
Overall, I would certainly recommend this book! However, I highly suggest that the readers be young adults ages 13 and up, as there are numerous kissing scenes, sexual references/scenes, and attempted rape. Nevertheless, this novel is especially good for a female audience, as Jayden is a very strong female figure and a great role model for teens to encourage themselves to be proactive and do what is right regardless of what others say. Thank you Kimberly Griffiths Little for a thrilling novel! I absolutely can’t wait to read the rest of the series!