So why even bother to write a review for In Search of the End of the Sidewalk? I’ve read tons of other books that would rank higher than this one. And yet, although it was terrible, it was still okay. Facing a fourteen hour flight from Los Angeles to Shanghai (and then several more hours to Chengdu), I was looking for something mindless, but something that would pull me in enough to make hours fly by without my noticing them. Forbidden did the trick.
Decker (with Lee) created a book that is smack in the middle of the genre I like to call DanBrown. (No spaces. It stands alone as a single noun.) We all know DanBrown as a genre. There’s mystery and intrigue. There are religious overtones. There’s a love story. There’s less than spectacular writing, but enough of a plot that the reader ignores the craftsmanship for the story. Forbidden has all of the elements to some degree or another.
Forbidden tells the tale of a future society in which the world is ruled by a single government, emotionless, other than fear. All feelings have been wiped out, leaving only fear as a way those in charge to control the masses. As the time comes for a new sovereign to be placed in power, a remnant of those old emotions that were thought to be extinct, again finds a way in to the population. While only a small handful of citizens are able to experience the wider range of feelings, those who are touched realize that love is not only a beautiful thing, but it can also bring pain greater than any they could imagine.
The basic plot is there, but as a whole, Decker didn’t develop the society to make it believable. As I read, I wanted to know more of what it was like to live in a society void of feelings. The reader barely gets a glimpse at the world before the first character reverts to a state of feeling. Rather than focus so heavily on the royals of this period, I would love to have more set-up of the average people living without feeling. I would prefer a book that went in the direction of a dystopian 1984-type world than the DanBrown genre I got.
Maybe I am asking too much. To be fair, I bought this book off the mass paperback stand at an airport kiosk. I didn’t buy it for its literary appeal, but rather its ability to waste away a couple of in-flight hours. Which it did. So, while Ted Decker’s (and Tosca Lee’s) Forbidden earns a measly one shell on my rating system, I do give it slight props for helping pass the time at 30,000 feet.