The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong
Reading level: Ages 13 and up
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins // Doubleday Canada
Release date: April 12, 2011
Series: Darkest Rising #1
Source: Personal Shelf
Reviewed by: Tynga
Sixteen-year-old Maya is just an ordinary teen in an ordinary town. Sure, she doesn’t know much about her background – the only thing she really has to cling to is an odd paw-print birthmark on her hip – but she never really put much thought into who her parents were or how she ended up with her adopted parents in this tiny medical-research community on Vancouver Island.
Strange things have been happening in this claustrophobic town – from the mountain lions that have been approaching Maya to her best friend’s hidden talent for "feeling" out people and situations, to the sexy new bad boy who makes Maya feel . . . . different. Combine that with a few unexplained deaths and a mystery involving Maya’s biological parents and it’s easy to suspect that this town might have more than its share of skeletons in its closet.
Maya lives in a very small town – a less than 200 habitants small town- and things have been hard on her since her best friend drowned the year before, but lately, things are getting worst. She lives in a very remote house in the park (aka forest) and cougar sightings are fairly frequent for her, but she’s seeing them more and more. Not only old Marv but new ones too. There’s also the weird fact that the animals she nurses back to health are healing impossibly fast, but nothing beats the intense dreams and weird visions she’s been having recently. Is she going crazy?
The Gathering is the first book in the Darkness Rising trilogy, a series set in the same world as Kelley’s Darkest Powers trilogy. I really liked the first trilogy so I was excited for more of this one, but be warned, you won’t see any of the teens starred in Darkest Powers.
The Gathering really felt like a big intro for what’s to come and here’s why: Kelley really slowly set the table in this book and you don’t see any paranormal elements until the last third of the book. It’s not a bad thing though, and worry not, the books isn’t boring! The author took her time to introduce the characters and really set the small town atmosphere: The gossips, the interactions between a small circle of teens, the way the town handles the fact that there’s a medical research lab as central element in town, how outsiders aren’t really welcome, etc.
Once you are really engrossed in the small town routine, Armstrong throws in some mysteries in the mix, on top of friendship/love interactions between the characters. I won’t lie to you, The Gathering almost feels like it got its name because you collect questions the whole time, and you don’t get many answers. It’s not frustrating though, because I really felt like this book was a wake-up call to the teens in town and now that they are aware some weird stuff are happening, they will seek answers in the next book.
I think the main reason I wasn’t frustrated with the lack of action in the first two-third of the book is because the characters were so enjoyable. Maya is a nice and lovable girl and she is quite the pair with her best friend Daniel. Contrary to so many books, their relationship isn’t revolving around a potential love story, it’s true friendship, and it was refreshing. There’s a bit of romance of course, because Maya falls for Rafe a pretend-to-be bad boy and I liked to see them evolve together. There are many secondary characters, but Sam is really the one who caught my attention. She is frustrated, anti-social and quick with her fists, but the most important is that she feels off. Something is wrong about her and I can’t wait to discover more!
Most of the book was slow-paced as I mentioned, but the end was action-packed. Events unraveled in a quick series of revelations – and more questions- to really set the pace for what I think is going to be an intense second book. The Calling is due April 10th and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Oh and yay for a series set in Canada ^^
*The only thing bothering me in this trailer is the scene where Rafe & Daniel fight, because it’s not accurate.