The Gathering, Darkness Rising Book 1 by Kelley Armstrong
Find it on Amazon
Amazon Book Description: “Strange things are happening in Maya’s tiny Vancouver Island town. First, her friend Serena, the captain of the swim team, drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. Then, one year later, mountain lions are spotted rather frequently around Maya’s home—and her reactions to them are somewhat . . . unexpected. Her best friend, Daniel, has also been experiencing unexplainable premonitions about certain people and situations.
“It doesn’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.”
Armstrong’s Darkness Rising trilogy takes place in the same world as her Darkest Powers trilogy -same mad scientific organization, different subjects. This time, Armstrong takes us to a small, isolated research community in Canada where the St. Clouds perform “pharmaceutical drug trials.” Maya lives there with her adoptive parents (this isn’t a spoiler, she’s well-aware that she’s adopted) that operate a wildlife reserve. Maya takes care of injured animals there and seems to have a special connection with the animals as well as uncanny healing abilities. She and her friend Daniel are still healing themselves after her best friend and his girlfriend Serena (a seasoned swimmer) drowns mysteriously in a lake. They really start asking questions about Serena’s death when a nosey outsider named Mina Lee appears in town and wants to talk to the teenagers about the research that goes on there. She seems especially interested in the life of a high schooler in their isolated community, their hobbies, and specifically in Maya.
Meanwhile, newcomer and local bad boy Rafael (Rafe) Martinez is also taking a special interest in Maya. As Maya gets to know Rafe, she realizes they have more in common than just their Native American ancestry. (Sorry for the ambiguity -I’m trying to keep this as spoiler free as possible!) Rafe might not be the bad boy he pretends to be, but his interest in Maya may not be entirely selfless, either. One thing I liked about this book is that Maya is an independent and plucky kinda girl. She’s very bold with Rafe (even bolder than usual, she admits) and often takes charge in their relationship, including initiating their, uh, make out sessions. Even though much of the book focuses on her relationship with Rafe, you kind of get the feeling that Armstrong is heading into love triangle territory since there seems to be some unresolved tension between Maya and Daniel. And, of course, Daniel doesn’t trust Rafe, so there’s friction between those two as well. (Do I sense a potential bromance in the works?)
When I started The Gathering, I was still on a high from reading my first paranormal romance trilogy by author Kelley Armstrong, The Darkest Powers. (You can find my book review for that series here.) I’m not sure what it was about The Gathering that I didn’t like. I mean, I liked it -I just didn’t love it, and I don’t know what about it didn’t take it to the next level for me. There were a lot of plot elements similar to The Darkest Powers trilogy -like Chloe has to put up with bitchy witch (teehee) Tori, Maya has to deal with mean girl Hayley. And there are the hints of a Daniel-Maya-Rafe love triangle. But these parallels didn’t really bother me. I mean, I’ve read and loved all of L. J. Smith’s books, and those all have very similar basic structures: Same basic premise, different twist. By the way, isn’t that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?…Well, I’m not really expecting different results, so I guess I’m okay!
Anyway, so it wasn’t the repetition. Something was missing for me. It seemed to be action-packed, but I didn’t become totally invested in the characters. I could put the book down if I wanted to. I also think it took too long for Maya to figure out who/what she is. The reader will become aware of it early in the book, but then it takes Maya almost the whole book to figure it out. That was a little frustrating. I enjoyed Maya’s character, though. Not only was she independent, she had an adventurous spirit and her narration and dialogue was just plain funny -she has a dry, sarcastic wit (kind of like yours truly).
Although I wasn’t in lurve with this book, I will still totally read the other ones. I’m curious enough to see what will happen next, and hopefully they get better.
Upcoming Books of the Week: Darkness Rising: The Calling (Book 2) and The Rising (Book 3); Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones; Karen Marie Moning’s The Dark Highlander