[Review] THE GATHERING by Kelley Armstrong

THE GATHERING
Kelley Armstrong
YA

Cover Copy: Maya lives in a small medical-research town on Vancouver Island. How small? You can’t find it on the map. It has less than two-hundred people, and her school has only sixty-eight students–for every grade from kindergarten to twelve.

Now, strange things are happening in this claustrophobic town, and Maya’s determined to get to the bottom of them. First, the captain of the swim team drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. A year later, mountain lions start appearing around Maya’s home, and they won’t go away. Her best friend, Daniel, starts experiencing “bad vibes” about certain people and things. It does’t help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret…and he’s interested in one special part of Maya’s anatomy: Her paw-print birthmark.

My Thoughts: I’m not the target audience for this book, but I picked it up because I like Armstrong’s style and enjoyed her Darkest Powers trilogy, but what really convinced me was the trailer for the second book in the trilogy, THE CALLING.

Lots of YA is very readable for adults, and I was hoping THE GATHERING was part of this “crossover” category, but I found THE GATHERING aimed more at 14 to 16 year olds and with a stronger emphasis on the romance portion of the story. I’m not sure this trilogy is for me. Don’t get me wrong– it’s not all romance. The trademark Kelley Armstrong action, adventure and suspense are all there, and good thing, too. These are what kept me reading.

Maya lives near a small town on Vancouver Island. She actually lives in a wildlife park, where her father is park ranger and where the cougars roam freely and at times seem sentient. Maya goes to school in the small town, which was founded by the St. Cloud cabal to support the families of the scientists employed at the nearby research lab. (Fans of Armstrong will recognize the St. Cloud cabal.) She’s friends with Daniel, who was boyfriend to Maya’s friend Serena until she drowned, and she’s intrigued with the new boy in town, Rafe. Much of the book is spent on Maya sorting out her feelings between the two boys and on her building trust with Rafe. And while it’s good that all these complications are there, I felt those sections could have been shorter.

A reporter shows up around town and asks the teens questions about the St. Cloud’s activity. The teens assume she’s not a reporter, but a corporate spy. The story starts to pick up again when the reporter ends up dead, and she may not be a corporate spy either.

Maya is adopted and believes she may be Navajo, but it’s the origin of her paw-print birthmark that’s at the heart of her ancestry search. An old lady sees the mark and calls Maya a witch. Someone else is interested in Maya’s birthmark: Rafe. But for an entirely different reason.

I really enjoyed Maya’s world and the tie to the Otherworld series. I’m certain my 14 year old self would have loved this story. THE GATHERING delivers action, myth and mystery with completely likable characters. I heartily look forward to the next in the trilogy.

Rating: B+
Series: Darkness Rising, #1
Publisher: Doubleday Canada, 2011
Acquired: purchase

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