Kelley Armstrong – The Gathering
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.
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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