If you’ve been reading my other reviews, I bet you can guess that I like the young adult romance novels, and this may come as a surprise, but this IS another one. Catherine Clark has written many young adult novels and I have read most of them, so whenever I hear she has a new one being published, I quickly log onto Amazon and buy it. Which may be why I like this one since this novel is actually a compilation. There are two books in one! What could be better?
William Shakespeare is one of the most well-known playwrights, but most people today have not read many, if any, of his plays because they are considered difficult or boring. Ask a room full of people which Shakespeare plays they have read and chances are that most will say Romeo & Juliet and Macbeth or maybe a few say, Hamlet. Almost everyone read them in high school, but the thing most specifically remembered about Macbeth itself is the witches because they are entertaining and different than the murderous tragedies surrounding them. Everyone has a fascination with the supernatural, especially during Shakespeare’s time, “when interest in witchcraft bordered on hysteria. Witches were blamed for causing illness, death, and disaster, and were thought to punish their enemies by giving them nightmares, making their crops fail and their animals sicken. Witches were thought to allow the Devil to suckle from them in the form of an animal” (Atherton). The fact that so many people remember the witches may seem strange since they only appear sporadically throughout the play for short periods of time, but the witches themselves are a driving force of the action in the play, especially when they play with Macbeth’s choices of free will vs. the destiny they prophesy for him.
I’ve read some other novels by Kantor, but none compared to Confessions of a Not It Girl in my opinion. Originally published in 2004, the story still holds relevance for today’s teenage generations of being true to yourself, falling in love for the first time, and so many other problems faced by high schoolers every day. Jan (the "not it" girl) and Rebecca (the "it" girl) are best friends at their school in Brooklyn. Both girls have normal lives and are ready to enjoy their senior year of high school. "Privilege aside, Jan's life is pretty normal for a teenage girl. She's studiously avoiding French class, and college applications while trying to avoid looking like an idiot in front of her newest (possibly biggest) crush, a classmate/neighbor named Josh” (Miss Print’s Amazon Review).
Overall, I greatly enjoyed reading Forbidden Boy. The basic plot line runs along the theme of a modernized Romeo & Juliet. A young girl, living in her family beach house, meets a charming boy at a party and they fall in love after a few weeks of dating. Meanwhile, a rich family, next to her house, is trying to make her family sell their home so that the rich family can have a gym on the waterfront. Turns out, that the young boy is the son of the thieving, rich family. Neither of the families is happy about the young couple’s relationship, but they still continue seeing each other in secret. The difference between Romeo & Juliet and Forbidden Boy is that at the end of the novel that families accept the children’s love and they live happily ever after, whereas in the play the young lovers kill themselves to be together and only then do the families accept each other.
This short story (and I do mean short since it was only about 50 pages) was a bit strange, erotic, and at some points downright unpleasant, at least to me, to read. I thought it would be a vampire story, which it is, but I did not expect more than three-fourths of the novel to be sex scenes. Books should better prepare you for what is inside when you read the back cover blurb or research a book online. Obviously, I don’t want them giving away all the surprises, but when the back cover of the book says the novel is about a vampire and the love of his life saving the world on New Year’s Eve, I thought that would be it (because yes, I am one of those who jumped on the vampire story craze). Even the Amazon blurb for the novel simply says, “Times Square. New Year’s Eve. This year, it’s a Countdown to Death. Twyla Tafel has uncovered an insane plot to unleash vampires on the unsuspecting revelers. She’s armed only with her great admin skills, her useless art degree, and Nikos—a seriously hot vampire she’d love to paint as a Spartan king roaring his muscular challenge at the Persians.” Seems like a vampire fight story with some romance thrown in, right? Instead, the entire book, until the last 10 pages, is spent in the vampire’s bedroom, hence the eroticism of the novel. Only in the last few pages do the vampire and the woman go off and save the whole world from doom, so it was unexpected and thus unpleasant for me to read, but if you like those kinds of stories, then give this book a try.
First, let’s just get the obvious part out of the way. The title is a reference to Beauty and the Beast. It is obvious from the title but still needs to be pointed out. The ugly duckling and the pretty princess have starring roles, but in the end, this story takes a bit of a different turn on who is Beauty, the Beast, and so on. Never judge a book by its cover, right? Same goes for titles; just because the title is a reference to the “tale as old as time” does not mean that the story itself plays parallel to the story we all know and love.