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Kelley Armstrong – The Gathering

June 8, 2011

72. The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong (2011)
Darkness Rising, Book 1

Length: 359 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Started: 28 May 2011
Finished: 29 May 2011

Where did it come from? From the publishers for review.
Why do I have it? New YA paranormal? Count me in.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 15 May 2011.

research and cougars and new
kids in school, oh my!

Summary: Maya’s always known that her town is not exactly normal. It’s isolated in the woods of a national park in Vancouver Island, it’s small – 200 people small – and it’s owned by the medical research company that employs most of its residents. But things have been getting stranger. First Maya’s best friend, the captain of the swim team, drowns in the lake on a perfectly calm day. Now the cougars in the park seem to be developing a strange affinity for Maya, the school’s new students are obviously keeping secrets, and there are strangers snooping around asking too many questions. But Maya has to figure out what’s really going on… and what it all has to do with her bookmark that looks just like a pawprint.

Review: I liked this book more than I probably should have, given what I can objectively recognize as some serious issues with its pacing and plotting. But subjectively, I really, really enjoyed it, to the point of leaping out of bed way too early on a Sunday morning just so I could tear through the second half of the book. So, the bad stuff first: the plot takes a long, long time to establish a direction, and even then it doesn’t move particularly quickly. The ending happens really abruptly, and is more of an act break than an ending, answering essentially none of the mysteries set up in the rest of the book. And speaking of mysteries, Maya is rather clueless, taking until page 250 or so to twig to the “reveal” that’s been glaringly obvious to readers since roughly the first chapter.

BUT! Even though I couldn’t help but notice all of that, I still enjoyed reading this book. Armstrong’s prose is smooth, her descriptions are vivid, her dialogue is funny (Maya and her dad’s banter in particular had me laughing more than once), and her characters are interesting. I also really appreciated that she stayed far away from most YA paranormal cliches: No love triangles, no absent parents, no meeting in biology class, no assholish obsessive paranormal guy who just wants to protect that fragile mortal girl, etc. Armstrong was also able to create a group of high schoolers who acted like high schoolers, without leaning too heavily on established teen stereotypes, and their interactions and relationships felt real. Armstrong also creates plenty of mystery in Maya’s little town – certainly more than enough to keep me absorbed – I just wish we’d gotten a few more answers. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: I enjoyed this book enough that I’m going to hunt down some more of Armstrong’s work… but while I think fans of teen paranormals will like this one, I’d actually recommend waiting until the rest of the series has been published, to save the frustration of coming to The Gathering‘s non-ending without the next book ready to hand.

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Other Reviews: 25 Hour Books, Bewitched Bookworms, The Book Bind, A Girl, Books, and Other Things, I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read, Just Another Book Blog, Literary Escapism, Love Vampires, My Favourite Books, Sarah’s Random Musings
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Serena stood on the rock ledge twenty feet above the lake, singing in a voice known to bring tears to the eyes of everyone who heard it.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2011 7:39 am

    I’m glad this one worked well enough for you. I’m positive that it will be part of a trilogy like the previous one and so the setting up of the unanswered storylines is not surprising. I enjoyed this author’s earllier YA books in the Darkest Powers trilogy. That one begins with THE SUMMONING.

    • June 9, 2011 9:42 am

      Kay – I know it’s the start a trilogy, but even so, there’s a way to pace a series so that each book has a complete story arc as well as contributing to the overall story, and this book just sort of cuts off right in the middle of things. I’m definitely interested in checking out some of Armstrong’s earlier books, though.

  2. June 9, 2011 9:03 am

    I like Armstrong’s books – have read a few in her Women of the Otherworld series, and one or two in her Nadia Stafford series (Nadia is an assassin). Those books are written for an adult market, though they’d be enjoyed by teens, I think. They tend to be heavy on the action and adventure and relatively light on romance, and I like her style.

    • June 9, 2011 9:44 am

      Ela – Sounds good! Any in particular you’d recommend?

      • June 11, 2011 2:46 pm

        Like all series they make more sense if you read from the beginning, but I haven’t done, and haven’t found myself too confused! I liked ‘Dimestore Magic’, ‘Industrial Magic’ and ‘No Humans Involved’ from the Women of the Otherworld series. The Nadia Stafford books I’ve read are the the first, ‘Exit Strategy’ and ‘Mad to be Broken’, both of which I enjoyed.

  3. June 9, 2011 2:27 pm

    Did you read the first trilogy, The Darkest Powers one? It’s set in the same setting, with a different story but with different characters. I remember feeling a bit like you about the first book’s plotting and pacing, but I went through them in a flash too, since the books were just so entertaining! There is a love triangle in these ones, but it’s a slow moving one that didn’t take over the series. I really liked it.

    • June 13, 2011 1:24 pm

      Kay – I haven’t, although I definitely think I should, given how much I enjoyed this one. I can see them going really quickly, especially if I had all three to hand at once. ;)

      And for the record, I don’t hate love triangles per se, I’m just sort of tired of them being used as a quick way to create dramatic tension, so any book that doesn’t have to rely on them gets a little bonus.

      • June 15, 2011 12:53 pm

        I agree with your take on love triangles. I used to really enjoyed them in fact, but there’s just been too many of them recently, at least in the books I read (mainly YA, but it could be in other books too). I think there are other ways to create great dynamics between characters, and a great romance, without the obvious triangle.

        I don’t know if it’s available where you are, but here in stores and on we have an omnibus version of the Darkest Powers trilogy. It’s an easy way to make sure to have all three on hand! :)

      • June 15, 2011 1:15 pm

        Sadly, the only listings on for the omnibus/box set are import listings, and it’s way cheaper just to buy the three books individually… or I could just hit up the library. :)


  1. The Gathering Kelley Armstrong Book Review
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