Forbidden by Eve Bunting packs a lot of atmospheric punch, but little else to hold a YA reader’s attention

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Forbidden by Eve Bunting packs a lot of atmospheric punch, but little else to hold a YA reader’s attention

If you are looking for  atmosphere, this book has it.  It is as creepy as the cover promises.  The problem is that there is little else that will appeal to most readers of YA.  Someone did this book a real disservice by forcing it into a YA mold when it would have been a fairly spectacular upper elementary read.  I wanted to like it, but in the end, I just had to give it a two star rating.

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Goodreads Summary

In early-nineteenth century Scotland, sixteen-year-old Josie, an orphan, is sent to live with an aunt and uncle on the rocky, stormy northwest coast. Everything and everyone in her new surroundings, including her relatives, is sinister, threatening, and mysterious. She’s told that Eli, the young man she’s attracted to, is forbidden to her, but not why. Spirited, curious, and determined, Josie sets out to learn the village’s secrets and discovers evil, fueled by heartless greed, as well as a ghostly presence eager for revenge. An author’s note gives the historical inspiration for this story

My Thoughts

I tried to give this book the benefit of the doubt, but the truth is that the characters are lacking in complexity, and the romance is ridiculously rushed.  It will leave most YA readers dissatisfied. If someone had just knocked the protagonist’s age down a few more years and considered friendship tinged with a first flush of a crush instead of a manic romance, this would have been a perfect follow up for young fans of books like Wait Till Helen Comes.  It radiates a sinister atmosphere that has readers guessing that somehow, someway, young Josie’s soul is going to be in peril.  I honestly had a whole host of horrible ideas in my head, and I wasn’t terribly disappointed with the more realistic path the book chose.  Of course, I guessed the answer long before Josie did, and most readers will as well, but I think it would have played well to a younger crowd who hadn’t seen these kinds of twists before.  I don’t think they would have been as bothered by the stilted feel of the formal language, either.  I think this book is going to be most appealing to young middle school readers.  It is a fast read, and while certain elements bothered me, I thought it was compelling enough.  Language and situations are appropriate for all ages, but this is definitely one that younger readers will appreciate more.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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