The Forbidden Game: Julian

I’ve learned of a few books and series from other blogs. This one I got from a review on Forever Young Adult and I’ve been looking out for the series ever since.Unfortunately it’s been checked out of my public library for at least three months now. (Hey Ally, speaking of, you haven’t posted in almost a month now. What’s up with that? Sorry guys, winter is really kicking my butt.)

And then I saw the above copy which contains all three Forbidden Game books (The Hunter, The Chase, The Kill) in one at Borders for $10. And oh my god guys. Oh my god. So good. The kind of good where you have to go back and re-read the passages that make you swoon. The kind of good where you know that if you have to move somewhere for a year, this will be one of the favorite books you bring along for comfort.

Our heroine and her companions are pretty darn awesome and I won’t shirk on describing them but the driving force of these novels is our villain/anti-hero Julian, the Prince of the Shadows.It seems that I’ve been in the mood for the books with bad boys later. And also books that suck you right on in. It took a few chapters for me to get pulled into the vortex but once L.J. Smith’s The Forbidden Game got me…Bam!

We start out with our sweet, kind and beautiful Jenny Thornton who lives her life helping her friends and being attached to the hip of her boyfriend Tom. His birthday comes up and Jenny has spent so much time helping her friends that she forgot to arrange something special. She heads into the bad part of town, runs into some creepers and escapes into a mysterious game shop.

Inside the store is Julian. (:D πŸ˜€ :D) (Please excuse my excessive fangirling.)

Jenny’s a little tongue-tied at the young man’s appearance. How often do you meet a ridiculously handsome guy with bright blue eyes, white-blond hair and dressed “all in black in a weird combination of cyperpunk and Byronic poet.” He sells her a mysterious game in a white unmarked box and then sends her on her way.

Which is probably as good an idea as hopping into an unmarked white van but Jenny is a little damsel-like at the beginning. (Don’t worry. You see her grow into a kick-butt heroine). But anyway she takes the game home, her parents head out and the crew comes in: Dee the empowered karate girl, Audrey the worldly rich girl, Michael the comic relief, Summer the sweet Barbie doll, Zach the introspective photographer and BMOC Tom who Jenny adores. When you first meet them, you figure you’ve just got some stock characters but they all will surprise you.

They set up the game, a Victorian paper house they have to construct, paper dolls they have to make look like them and slips of paper where they draw their deepest fears. Jenny starts freaking when one of the dolls turns out to look like the boy from the store but goes along with the game rules, which involves chanting a promise that they know what they’re doing and what they’re playing.

Bam! Into the paper house!

Bam! Enter Julian.

Well not totally Bam! but close enough. Julian has them in the game and to get out they have to make it out the door at the top of the house. But Julian doesn’t intend for them to win because his motive behind all of this is that he wants Jenny. He is a supernatural being (I won’t tell what kind, it’s part of the plot. But it’s totally not a vampire) who has watched her from a far for years. He’s drawn to her and her light and will win her, no matter what.

Gotta admit, when I first read this it was a little creepy. I mean he comes on strong. Really strong.

“So this was all–set up? But why me? Why are you doing this to me?” Jenny could feel hysteria tugging at her again.

Then he said it. He was looking at her with eyes like the sky on a November morning, one corner of his mouth turned up. He spoke gravely and a little formally.

“Because,” he said, “I’ve fallen in love with you.”

Not the best way to get your girl–pulling her into a scary mansion, trapping all her friends and then being like oh hey btw I’ve loved you for a long while.

As I read through though, I became fascinated along with Jenny. She goes from refusing him outright to an overpowering connection growing between them. He’s manipulative and cruel but he has one redemptive quality: his love for Jenny who is everything light and good. If L. J. Smith had ended with the first book (The Hunter) with Jenny and her crew escaping the house, Julian would have just been a smoking hot villain. But she didn’t. In The Chase Julian becomes more romantic while retaining his unpredictable villainous ways and Jenny becomes awesome. She goes from the girl who lives to please others and follow Tom to this strong character who can stand equal with her assertive boyfriend and face off against Julian. I loved the alternating between her facing off against Julian and succumbing to his charms.

She thought she remembered how it was with Julian, how it felt to be kissed by him. Her memories had lied. Or maybe this kind of thing was too strong for memory to be anything but a shadow of it.

Julian didn’t make her feel safe at all. She was trembling instantly. Falling. Soaring. The electricity he carried around with him flooding into her, tingling in every nerve ending. Sweet shocks that sent her mind reeling.

Oh, God, I can’t–it’s wrong. It’s wrong, he’s evil. I can’t feel anything for him. I told Tom I didn’t feel anything…

Her body didn’t listen to her.

At the end of the second book, The Chase, Jenny becomes a different person. She is ready to take on Julian, feeling that he has lost her power over her. She can stand against him instead of trembling with attraction. And then we get to book three The Kill that I don’t want to ruin. I’m trying to be as non-spoileriffic as I can in this review. This book takes on a more somber tone as they enter the shadow world where Julian isn’t the only monster. Jenny faces demons from her past and tackles the part of her that does feel for Julian.

“Couldn’t you have just come and asked?” she murmured.

What if Julian had come to her, appearing some night out of the shadows while she was walking home, say, and told her that he loved her? What would she have done?

She would have been afraid. Yes. But after the fear? If Julian had come, offering gifts, gentle, looking as vulnerable as he did now?

If she had accepted his gifts…

It all gets flipped around. Instead of Julian being the sole aggressor, Jenny pushes him back to make him realize he is not completely evil. He can change. Not in the “Oh I can change him” way that makes us roll our eyes at silly girls. She takes no crap. I frickin love Jenny. I love her friends. I even love Tom. Even though Julian is so seductive and Tom sometimes displays instances of “I know better because I am a man” he’s endearing in his all-american boy way.

I just…wow. What a good read. You may not agree with me about Julian. I can see how some might read him as more stalker than hottie. And I’m usually the one to call a character out n something like that. Which either means my judgement has slipped or L.J. Smith knows how to tug at me.

Go read this. Now. The adventure, mystery, romance, dark themes and Julian (:D) will set you a-swooning.

Breakdown

Appearance: White hair, blue eyes (so blue they are described in a hundred different ways), keeps changing his outfits but is often in black leather

Personality: at first cold, cruel, impassioned. Later layers of passion, love and even gentleness are revealed.

Best Quality: His devotion, his sense of fair play (to a point)

Worst Quality: He thinks he can only get what he wants by manipulation

Grade:

So here’s the deal. When I reviewed Hannibal Lecter I ended up giving him a C because of his actions in Hannibal. Julian does a lot of things that is not okay but he makes up for a lot of it and redeems himself.Β  So I’m going to give him a B-. (He would probably get a C in the first book, a B in the second and a B+/A- i the last so B- works for me.)


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10 Responses to “The Forbidden Game: Julian”


  1. 1 Talia Decent April 11, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    I love Julian so muchh!!!!! A*!!

  2. 3 Aheem Mean Sue Arrest July 4, 2011 at 3:43 am

    somebody is not a stalker if that somebody is hot…. πŸ™‚

  3. 4 Aheem Mean Sue Arrest July 4, 2011 at 6:06 am

    by the way nice post.. bam :3

  4. 6 Jocelyne November 5, 2011 at 1:59 am

    Julian is such a hottie and no matter what everybody says I still think that he is hot (even if he does sound stalkerish πŸ™‚ )

  5. 7 arcawi March 3, 2012 at 12:36 am

    Julian is THE best character I have ever read. so NO WAY is he a stalker! and the hottest, and the most layered – i give him a b+ at least!

  6. 8 Lacy March 25, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    About a year and a half ago I stumbled across the same book, the one with all 3 in 1. I’d been looking for something new to read and it looked vaguely interesting, so I bought it. About half an hour later I was hooked. If you go through my copy, I have about a dozen pages dog-eared just so I can go back and read the best Julian scenes. Over and over and over…I can’t get enough of Julian. At first I was pulled in just because he’s freaking sexy, but the farther I got into the story and the more layered he became…I completely fell in love. To this day Julian remains my number one all time favorite fiction character. Closely followed by Zane Cobriana of Amelia Atwater-Rhodes’s Hawksong and Gabriel Wolfe of L.J. Smith’s other trilogy Dark Visions (I would definitely recommend both, they’re incredible).
    I guess I have a thing for bad boys who aren’t really bad…

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