Monday, March 18, 2013

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong - Darkness Rising #1 Book Review

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.

Until now.

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.

. . . .

I’m beginning to develop a love/hate relationship with Kelley Armstrong’s YA.

I recently read The Darkest Powers trilogy, which is set in the same world as The Gathering.  I wasn’t floored by the plot, but the characterization was some of the best I’ve seen in the last few years, and I’m a sucker for good characterization – especially when there’s some hot supernatural romance involved.  To the point, Darkest Powers was a forgettable trilogy that was still hella entertaining (yes, I’m bringing “hella” back), and left me very much interested in reading Armstrong’s other YA trilogy, Darkness Rising.

But unfortunately, it seems like the world they’re set in isn’t the only thing the two trilogies have in common.

I got about halfway through The Gathering before I realized that we were following Maya’s desperate search for questions we already know the answer to from Darkest Powers.  The setting is different, the characters are different (and still pretty awesome), but the story seems to be the same.  If you’ve read The Darkest Powers, you already know that it’s not enough to really sustain one trilogy, let alone two.

The ending is…non-existent.  The book runs out of pages, with one or two half-hearted sentences trying to fool us into thinking it’s a conclusion, but it doesn’t end.  You’ll remember I had the same problem with The Summoning, but I think The Gathering may be even worse. It was immensely unsatisfying.

Somehow, though, this book still managed to be…good.  I did say it was a love/hate relationship, remember?

Maya is an awesome character to be stuck inside the head of.  She’s smart, sassy, and sarcastic.  She doesn’t moon over the “playa” boy in school like so many vapid YA heroines, so when she finds herself hurt by him, we’re actually sympathetic, not rolling our eyes at her idiocy.  The side characters are equally realized and likeable, even though they seem to be leading us into yet another love triangle *shudders*.  The setting – a top-secret town run entirely by a…“medical research” company - has all the originality the plot is lacking, and it’s as refreshing as it is interesting.  And to top it off, Kelley Armstrong managed to do the impossible; make us want to tear through the pages of a story we’ve already read before.

Bottom line, I’m not happy with Kelley Armstrong’s cash-cow-milking…ness…. (says the oh-so-talented book-reviewer), but I’m suckered into yet another weak trilogy by her ability to actually write.

The Gathering - 3 out of 5 stars


  1. This book sounds interesting. But there is nothing I hate more then a love triangle. I can admit that some books do handle this pretty well, but most of the time I just want to start hitting people when the triangle forms.

    Just because of that I'll probably pass this one up.

    I can understand your love/hate with a book. . .I have that happen to me all the time. I hate the book but for some reason I can't stop reading it because I love it. It never makes sense.

    1. Yeah, I understand that. Love triangles annoy me (obviously) but not enough to actually stop me from reading a book that looks good. I totally get why some people actively avoid them, though.

      Haha yeah, that was this book. Well, sort of. The story was good, but it was just the same as the companion series. That bugged me.


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