Forbidden was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Forbidden is one of those novels that does not really fit into any one category. It has elements of thriller, romance, mystery, crime, drama, and politics but none of those really fit on their own. That largely contributes to what makes the book feel so real; there are slices from various aspects of life. Another big factor was having this in the near-future (30 years from now) without being too crazy. The technology we see if pretty much the same as today, no flying cars or anything like that.
The future world we see is really only different in a political sense. Most of the Middle East has combined into a republic, which serves as the setting for the novel. This does not mean everything is all well and good; the catalyst for the story is a terrorist attack. Some individuals do not like the new government and lash out similarly to real terrorist groups like ISIS. While they spend more time as a background element, politics are crucial to the story. Throughout Forbidden, it becomes apparent how one event can start a chain that could potentially destabilize an entire region.
Characterization is also key for a story like Forbidden and the two main characters here were great. Captain Sharif, our main male character, is a good man in a bad situation. He loves his country and respects law and order. Sharif is a faithful man who becomes uncertain when his orders clash against his morality. He knows he is damned in life if he does not follow the orders and damned in death if he commits these sins. It is a difficult situation and showcases what happens when a good man goes to war.
Eliza is our leading lady and makes for a fantastic half of the protagonist duo. She is a strong woman but has been through immeasurable grief that broke her. While she did manage to put herself back together the cracks are still there, and this new tragedy tests her. She spends most of Forbidden scared but also brave. Eliza is smart and has a powerful survival instinct, but she is also emotional and afraid. The scars left by her PTSD are a large part of her character and make her very real.
Overall, Forbidden strikes me as a 3.5 out of 5. We will round that up to 4 because a flat 3 seems too low to do it justice. If you are looking for a suspenseful book with flair of action and a splash of romance, Forbidden is a good choice.