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Forbidden City

3.61  ·  Rating Details ·  870 Ratings  ·  82 Reviews
Seventeen-year-old Alex Jackson comes home from school to find that his father, a CBC news cameraman, wants to take him to China's capital, Beijing.Once there, Alex finds himself on his own in Tian An Men Square as desperate students fight the Chinese army for their freedom.Separated from his father and carrying illegal videotapes, Alex must trust the students to help him ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 16th 1999 by Seal Books (first published 1990)
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Dec 18, 2007 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book when I was in high school from school library for 50 cents. It was about Massacre? Tien Men Square In China in 1988? I do not remember the detail but I recommend this book to people who are into world history, Chinese history or social studies.
Dec 23, 2007 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2006
I had never read this as a child, because I found both the cover and the blurb at the back to be very uninteresting. However, I finally got around to reading it a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it! I learned alot about the conflicts in China at the time, and it opened up new areas of interest for me. I wish I had given this book a chance a couple of years earlier!
Feb 08, 2016 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 15, 2009 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I first read it in high school, and I just picked it up again. I find the story interesting, and also wondering how much if the story is based on real events. It makes me want to research what happened in Tian An Men Square, and the events leading up to it, and the events after it.
I don't remember the ending just ending like that. I want to know more about "Shan Da" when he is back home in Canada. How he is handeling seeing the things he's seen and the things he's don
Jalpa Thaker
Jan 14, 2010 Jalpa Thaker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought it was a good book. I'm not a big fan of historical fiction books, but this one wasn't that bad. at times you want to know what's going to happen but not all the time. so over all i enjoyed it, wasn't as bad as i thought it might be! maybe one of the best historical, school picked books i've read.
Toks (at GalacticTidesx)
May 15, 2010 Toks (at GalacticTidesx) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Young teen readers
Shelves: 2010
For a book that is intended for someone younger than me I didn't expect it to be so raw and hard hitting. My younger brother's grade nine class is reading it and he liked it so much I had to check it out. It is a serious book and inspired a real political conversation out of a 14 year old boy who is not a huge fan of books or very political aware.
Jul 16, 2010 Marla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was recommended to me by my teenage daughter. It was on her required summer reading list and she loved it. It's the fictional story of a teenage boy involved in the very real events of Tiananmen Square. Told in diary form, it's an easy to read, page turner, covering the horrific facts of the murder of peaceful, demonstrating students and innocent civilians.
Maralis Martinez
Jan 21, 2012 Maralis Martinez rated it it was ok
I read this book my sophomore year in high school (late 90's). From what I remember, the book started off so slowly I dreaded reading it. The fist half of this book could have been condensed to one chapter. Then all of the sudden it got really good and I couldn't put it down because it was so good. Here is my issue with this book: if it wasn't an assigned book, I would have missed the second half because by then I would have stopped reading it. If you are patient, read it. If not, don't bother ( ...more
Oct 19, 2012 Hafsah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure
I thought that this book was okay. It was exciting but I didn't find it very appealing to me. This book is about a boy named Alex Jackson, a history bluff whose dad is a reporter for CBC. Alex's dad, Ted, was assigned a job in China to cover protests going on between the university students and the governement. Follow Alex in his exciting adventures in China and see how he survives a war. I recommend this book for anyone who is interested in Chinese History or Social Justice.
So I enjoyed this book, but it was incredibly slow to start off. In fact the first part of the book kind of sucks because it is so slow and boring. But once it gets going, it's really interesting. There's plenty of action, but there is also good character development. I guess this is one of those books that would be best taught, but everyone will hate you for making them read the first part and may stop before getting to the good bits.
Allison Chan

Okay, after the whole PLA part, i thought the book would get epic, but...turns out the answer is no. Like seriously, Alex is like "Oh okay, after blacking out, I end up in a happy old lady's house!" Wtf??? Why not get kidnapped by soldiers and get questioned and something that would illustrate the whole danger of the PLA's arrival? And then ending was seriously seriously cheesy, a realization in a very 90s style.

And the whole thing was confusing. I read
"Forbidden City" is a fictionalized account of the Tian An Men Square incident that occurred in China in 1989. The account is shown in the first person format, seen through the eyes of Alexander Jackson, a seventeen-year-old boy from Canada. Alex travels with his father, a cameraman for the CBC news corporation, on his latest assignment to China. They aren't there long before the student protests start, and the situation degenerates rapidly.

I actually really liked this book. I thought it was wel
Barrette Plett
Mar 24, 2013 Barrette Plett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really compelling, fast-paced; should be an excellent book to do with my Grade 9 class for its literary strength, realistic characters and Social Studies connections -- e.g. democracy -- as well as the relevance to similar current events like the Arab Spring, and the questions of censorship and democracy.
May 08, 2013 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Despite his initial trepidations and fears, 17 year-old Alex Jackson joins his father, a CBC cameraman, on a trip to Beijing, China where is father is assigned to report on a protest of college students in Tiananmen Square. The climate of the protests, however rapidly change from a peaceful protest into a horrific and violent massacre, where the People's Legislative Army of China attack and murder the protesters in the capital city. Alex quickly finds himself in the middle of the chaos of the ma ...more
This book was slow in the beginning when explaining the protest but at the end, it was really sad because of all the people Alex had lost. The characters come back from their experience having changed personaliies because of the hardship they went through. The book portrayed a good message and I don't regret reading it.
Becky Gould
Aug 27, 2013 Becky Gould rated it it was amazing
What an amazing story. I found after reading it a second time and not for school, I've realized I really enjoyed this book. It makes you think in how lucky we are to live somewhere where we can choose what we want to be. If you want a story to pull you in, then this is the book to read. If you want a story that will teach you, this is the book to read.
Sep 13, 2014 Debbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 12, 2014 Diana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this book for English class and I have to say although it was extremely slow in the beginning I enjoyed the ending quite a bit. It follows the journey of a Canadian boy who moved to Beijing in 1989 for a year. It was a historical fiction novel and showed the horrible events that took place in June. A lot of people, including myself before I read this novel, don't know about the Chinese government murdering their own citizens who were fighting for their freedom. They wanted a democr ...more
Malcolm Sutcliffe
I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Every single part. I even enjoyed the beginning where most people said they found it boring. What can I say? I am a stub for historical fiction. At the beginning Alex and his father travel to China where they become news reporters. For the first half of the book, I found that the suspense intensified, each chapter of the book. I loved learning about China's history through parts of the book. When Lao Xao says that the city has been put under martial ...more
M. A. P.
Dec 07, 2014 M. A. P. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel-novella
Based on some other user reviews, I was expecting the beginning of the book to bore me to the point of a near death experience. To me, personally, this did not prove true. While it did feel like there weren't many noteworthy happenings going on in the first half, I did enjoy it for the interesting details it presented regarding China and Chinese culture as well as language. If anything, after getting to witness all hell break loose in the middle section of the book, I found myself disinterest wi ...more
May 16, 2015 Roscoe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everything is a game until something bad happens. Alex is a teenager who is fascinated in military , especially China's military. One day his father, a reporter is offered to film the student protests in Beijing China. When they go there, they are greeted by masses of people in Tiananmen square. In the first few weeks, they explore the areas around Beijing , and Alex learns Chinese. after a few weeks, they see massive things start to happen, people starving themselves, and then, the military co ...more
Satwik Chugh
May 31, 2015 Satwik Chugh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Imagine yourself sitting and reading a book in your air conditioned room but feeling like in a warzone. You are reading Forbidden City. Forbidden City, by William Bell, is a historical fiction account of the Tian An Men Square incident that occurred in China in 1989. The story is seen through the the eyes of Alexander Jackson, a seventeen-year-old Canadian boy. Alex goes with his father, who gets transferred to Beijing as a CBC news reporter, and soon after they arrive, the city is under martial ...more
Forbidden City Review

Forbidden City is based on the Tian An Men Square incident which happened in China in 1989. Alexander Jackson an ordinary 17 year old teenager and his dad, who works as a camera man for CBC news fly over to China due to a task his dad has received from his work. Alex always had questions on his mind about China and a lot of interest, he was thrilled to go. But just was that timing when there were students who were protesting. It was calm at first but then things got worse as
May 19, 2015 Dana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Historical books aren’t exactly my taste, but believe it or not, ‘Forbidden City’ was enjoyable. It made me start to search for other similar books that I could read.

‘Forbidden City’ is a story of Alexander, who loves battles and plans, and his dad, who is crazy about capturing moments on camera. One day, the dad gets called to China for work, which leads to both father and son flying to China. A few days after they arrive, students of China start a big demonstration demanding democracy. Alexand
Jun 10, 2015 PrairieReader rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
I read this book when my son brought it home for grade nine required reading and didn't have high hopes (not a fan of required reading), but was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I was in my first year of university when the events in the book occurred and have a pretty vivid memory of the time. While admittedly nowhere near an expert of the events around the Massacre, I thought the author did a good job in portraying it as realistically as possible from the point of view of a 17 ye ...more
Dec 31, 2015 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit of editing would've helped, but this book delivers. It's got some interesting history, some serious encounters with merciless soldiers and some family drama too. The communications technology side never fails to make me laugh - "Get the fax ready, Ted" - but that's forgivable. 1989 was an incredible year in world history, and this book, in spite of its faults, helps illuminate that.
Emily Hupp
Mar 12, 2016 Emily Hupp rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was forced by my teacher to read this book, and well I didn't want to read it. It was really slow in the beginning, and took forever to get to a good pace. I usually don't have trouble with reading books for school, but I found absolutely no interest in this book from page one. This is good for some history lovers, but turns out, I'm not a big fan of the 1980's version of China. If you are, try this book out, but if you aren't, just don't.
May 14, 2016 AV AV rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Geschreven voor kinderen vanaf 14 jaar. Tot halverwege het boek een steno-achtige tekst. Niks aan. Daarna begint de beschrijving van de studentenopstand. Aangezien veel van wat er verteld wordt wereldwijd al eens is uitgezonden, is de tekst helder en zeer indrukwekkend, laat staan als je veertien bent.
Marley Goldman
Jun 13, 2016 Marley Goldman rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was assigned to read this book for a historical class, and I have say it fell flat for me.

#1. The main character, Alex, was very dull. He didn't seem to have very much personality, aside from his obsession with war. This blasé lack of depth was a problem with the other, more minor characters as well. They all felt very one dimensional.
#2. The writing style (a journal) I found unbelievable. This is the diary of a boy during the Tiananmen Square massacre! He should sound at least a little inter
Mimi Kuo
Oct 13, 2016 Mimi Kuo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
在最後一章節時, 我整個人哭得超傷心的. 因為中共的殘忍, 殘殺自己人, 而且還否認這樣的事實, 真的感到噁心和憤怒!
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William Bell is an award-winning author of more than a dozen books for young adults.

Born in Toronto, Ontario in 1945, he has been a high school English teacher and department head, and an instructor at the Harbin University of Science and Technology, the Foreign Affairs College in Beijing, and the University of British Columbia.
More about William Bell...

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