July 2010, Simon Pulse
762 pages, Paperback
Young Adult, Paranormal, Horror
Evil spirits, nightmares come true, fears conquered, friendships weakened and strengthened, secrets revealed, treasure hunt, major scare factor, a few tissues needed, teen romance, occasional swearing (I think...)
Summary by Simon and Schuster
It all started with a board game. But what was supposed to be an evening of friends, fun, and games, becomes a night of danger, drama, and obsessive love. Because when Jenny and her friends try to play the Game, it comes to life. Suddenly they are in a dark world where Julian, the gorgeous guy who sold Jenny the game, rules as Prince of the Shadows. Julian is in charge, making their darkest nightmares reality. And he will do anything to claim the beautiful Jenny as his prize. The Game is real, and these friends must play through - and the only way to win is to face their most secret fears. To lose the Game is to lose your life. And that is only the beginning...
I adored L J Smith's DARK VISIONS so I jumped at the chance to read this. I have to admit I nearly stopped reading it after a few chapters. Not because it wasn't any good - the opposite is true. But I'd recently been really spooked by another paranormal book, and was a little wary about whether to continue reading THE FORBIDDEN GAME or not. I did, because friends have said it was a good book. It's a very good book! Yes I was petrified most of the time, constantly jumping at the slightest noise around me. And I had a bad dream about my garage that night, where a friend (who I didn't even know) locked a burglar in there. I had to go in the next morning and was still scared. This shows me how powerful the writing is in THE FORBIDDEN GAME. I liked it because Jenny does have some strengths, but also she can be a little weak, freaking out when events get overwhelming. At one point it gets to the stage where she has a panic attack - something I've never read the main protagonist do! I was proud of her courage, she refused to give in to the evil spirits, especially once she knew what they wanted from her. At times I thought she was an idiot because she acted like she was joined at the hip to her boyfriend and they weren't a separate entity. But by the end of the trilogy she has matured as a person, she realises she can do anything she wants to do, and this strengthens her relationship with everyone.
Her friends make quite a group: one seems to be scared by nothing (until her nightmare comes true), another seems like a real airhead, but proves that even she has a backbone. Julian - well he is rather evil. But - and I was shocked when my friend said this about him - he isn't all bad. He's still creepy, possessive, and everything he does screams Stalker. Jenny learns the lesson that life isn't black and white, which is very true. It will probably be a really long time before I read this again, just because it did freak me out a lot. That was fun, but I had to have a fluffy read afterwards. I really enjoyed it, and keep looking forward to reading more of L J Smith's work.
This is one super scary book (which does ease up as the story progresses and you understand what's going on). If, like me, you scare easily, I recommend reading this in day light and making sure you have people in the house with you.
Make sure you check out L J Smith's website to find out all the latest news about her books.