Feb 23, 2012

Book Review: The Forbidden Game - L.J. Smith

Title: The Forbidden Game (The Forbidden Game #1-3) - L.J. Smith
Release Date: The edition I have was first published June 8th 2010
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 750 (paperback, omnibus)
When Jenny buys a game for her boyfriend, Tom, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to the guy behind the counter. There is something mysteriously alluring about Julian's pale eyes and bleached-blond hair. And when he places the Game into her hands, she knows their connection is something deeper. 
But as Jenny and her six friends begin to play the Game at Tom's birthday celebration, a night of friends and fun quickly turns into a night of terror and obsessive love. Because the Game isn't just a game — it's the seven friends' new reality, where Julian reigns as the Prince of Shadows. 
One by one the friends must confront their phobias to win the Game. To lose the Game is to lose their lives. And that is only the beginning...
I bought this book because I needed something long to read for two weeks when I had to save up for The Hunger Games boxed set (yes, that series will be up for review next). I didn't expect much but I'm happy to say that this has officially become one of my favorites!

The Forbidden Game is actually a series of three books: The Hunter, The Chase, and The Kill. I think the summary above does its job pretty well so I will go straight to commenting on each book.

The Hunter
L.J. Smith did really well in setting the background for the story to unfold in and developed the characters in a way that won't have you questioning their decisions later in the story. It was fun to read about a group of friends who were so close despite their vastly varied personalities. And Smith described the Game so clearly that it was easy to visualize the scenes. The ending disappointed me, though, because it wasn't what I wanted, but it really paved the way for the second book.

The Chase
After the Game, Jenny had changed. She became braver and risky but unfortunately, she didn't want to accept these changes. I think, deep inside her, she really wanted to stay with Julian but because she had been with Tom for so long, he was also the only future she could think of. But Julian doesn't give up and starts a second Game which, in my opinion, is more exciting than the first because they played it in the real world where they had humanly things to consider like their families and other people who could also get hurt.

The Kill
Because of how The Chase ended, there was action in The Kill right off the bat. And because this was the last book, Smith answered all the questions she had the readers ask from the first two books. No ending has ever made me sadder than this one's, though. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer made me tear up when Bella and Edward entrusted Renesmee to Jacob (shut up, that scene was heartbreaking) but this one just made me cry full out.

There was quite a lot of poetry used in this series and at first that made me nervous because I've detested poems for quite a long time, but Smith put them to really good use and, in the end, I appreciated every single one of them.

The fact that this series is so underrated makes me terribly sad, what with less than 10,000 ratings and reviews in Goodreads. I definitely hope more people would get to read it because it's heaps better than most of the new YA books. The Kill was released in 1994, yes, almost twenty years ago, but Smith has said in a blog post that she's currently working on a sequel! I do hope it won't be as depressing as this but, as long as it's good, I'll be happy.

My favorite part: every time Julian was with Jenny. Yes, every single time. He's now on top of my "lit crushes" list.

Rating: 5/5
(photo from goodreads.com; I copied the summary from my own copy)

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