Friday, September 23, 2011

Review: The Gathering

Title: The Gathering (Darkness Rising, #1)
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 359
Where I Got This Book: Own
Rating: 4 Stars

Goodreads Summary: 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.

My Thoughts: I thought this novel made a fun read, though it didn't suck me in quite as much as the Darkest Powers trilogy did.

Despite following the same story line as the previous trilogy, it had a completely different feel. Instead of following a group of teenagers with supernatural abilities, this book really only focused on Maya and her discovery of her new power. Her power, plus a handful of other teens' powers that were merely hinted at, were very different from the powers we came across in the past trilogy. I won't spoil what Maya's supernatural ability is, but I will say that Maya never truly experienced it. She only discovered that she possessed it. Because of this, I thought that the book was kind of slow going. There was also very little mention of the science experiment conspiracy, which was brought into the book only at the very end, leaving us with a heck of a cliffhanger.

I enjoyed the characters. Maya is a very intelligent and kind person who has a great interest in animals and animal care. She even has her own menagerie in her backyard, where she keeps injured animals that she finds in the woods and nurses them back to health. One of those animals, a cougar, became so attached to Maya that he refused to leave once his leg healed, so he basically hangs around like a large house cat. I thought it was awesome that Maya had a cougar for a pet (I've always wanted a white tiger for a pet, myself). Maya's parents were great too. They were present throughout the story, which was a nice change for a young adult novel, but while they were being good, repsonsible parents, they also let Maya have her independence and trusted her maturity and good sense.

Now for the love triangle. I'm still not sure what to think about the budding relationship between Maya and Rafe. I thought Rafe was alright, but I didn't feel like we got to know him too well in this first book, so I couldn't really form an opinion about him. At the moment, I prefer Maya's best friend Daniel. I think he's a nicer, more geniune person. They've known each other all of their lives, and they're a better fit for each other, in my opinion. Unfortunately, Maya views Daniel as just a friend, and there wasn't any romantic chemistry between them. Daniel was still getting over the death of his girlfriend (who was also Maya's best friend), so their relationship stayed strictly platonic in this book. I'm hoping that will change in The Calling.

All in all,  I thought the book was very well-written, and I found this new direction with the science experiment plot line (though not as entertaining as the first trilogy) to be very refreshing and interesting. I am looking forward to the rest of the series.

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