Saturday, January 25, 2014

Review: The Gathering by Kelly Armstrong

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Title: The Gathering
Author: Kelly Armstrong
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: April 12th 2011
Format: library e-book
Pages: 373
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Maya lives in a small medical-research town on Vancouver Island. How small? You can't find it on the map. It has less than two-hundred people, and her school has only sixty-eight students — for every grade from kindergarten to twelve. Now, strange things are happening in this claustrophobic town, and Maya's determined to get to the bottom of them. First, the captain of the swim team drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. A year later, mountain lions start appearing around Maya's home, and they won't go away. Her best friend, Daniel, starts getting negative vibes from certain people and things. 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.

This was my first Kelly Armstrong book in a very long time. I have been wanting to read another one of her novels for a long time but for whatever reason I never got around to it. Reading The Gathering was like returning to a lost love. There is a reason that Kelley Armstrong is such a well-known author, the woman can write a story.

Being the animal lover that I am, a story of a girl who is drawn to wild animals (and vice versa) was right up my alley! Maya instantly won me over with her love of animals, her friends, and the only family she has ever known, her adopted parents.

I was also taken by the location and of the book. To me, Vancouver Island sounds like a wonderful place to live (if I wasn’t allergic to EVERYTHING that blooms). A secluded, majestic island, with its own national forest and a town where everyone is taken care of because they are all paid to live there! The best schooling, medical care, beautiful scenery and wildlife in its natural state! Sign me up! I don’t know much about science but I’ll volunteer myself as a guinea pig in the search for a cure to allergies! 

So the town rocks, Maya rocks, Daniel is like the cool big bro you’ve always wanted and then there is Rafe. The bad guy with clouded past. He and his sister are new to a place that doesn’t get new people. Rafe is a player and Maya doesn’t give him the time of day. Until she sees another side to him. One that others haven’t seen. One that makes her think that Rafe might not be the “bad boy” everyone thinks he is. And no, there is no love triangle between Rafe, Daniel, and Maya (Thank Goodness!). Rafe sees something in Maya that he hasn’t found with any of his other flings but is that a good thing or is he using her for something? (Queue dramatic sixpence music.)

With the book being place is such a “small town”, every character has their own little back story because you know if you are on an island, it will be very hard to keep secretes. This makes for some really interesting secondary characters and makes you feel like they are all in this together, even if they act like they don’t want to be (cough RAFE cough).

So you might be wondering what the big deal is in this book. You will keep wondering that until about halfway through the story. True to Kelley Armstrong form, this book lays a lot of foundation for the series. Foundation is extremely important, but can get a little lagging. This is a wonderful first book that leaves you on you edge of you seat anticipating what will happen next! 

Kelley Armstrong is a paranormal storytelling genius, so even though I found this book a bit slow going, I did enjoy the story and I am excited to keep reading the series. Anyone who is a fan of small town conspiracies and undiscovered super human abilities will enjoy this book and the ones to follow!

“Rafe grinned. ‘So we are dating?’
‘No. You have to pass the parental exam first. It'll take you awhile to compile the data. They'd like it in triplicate.’ 

“I called him a player with attention deficit disorder.” 

“This is so cool,’ I said as Dad walked away. ‘Have you met the tattoo artist? Is he hot?
‘He’s a she,’ Mom said.
‘Is she hot? Cause I’m still young, you know. My sexual identity isn’t fully formed."

“The cougar-a ragged-ear old top I called Marv-just stared at her, like he couldn't believe anyone would be dumb to climb a tree to escape a cat.”  

“Or,’ I said turning to Rafe, ‘if you want to skip the whole awkward meet-the-family social event you could just submit your life story including your view on politics religion and every social issue imaginable along with anything else you think they might need to conduct a thorough background check.’ Mom sighed. 'I really don't know why we even bother trying to be subtle around you.”

Kelley Armstrong has been telling stories since before she could write. Her earliest written efforts were disastrous. If asked for a story about girls and dolls, hers would invariably feature undead girls and evil dolls, much to her teachers' dismay. All efforts to make her produce "normal" stories failed.

Today, she continues to spin tales of ghosts and demons and werewolves, while safely locked away in her basement writing dungeon. She's the author of the NYT-bestselling "Women of the Otherworld" paranormal suspense series and "Darkest Powers" young adult urban fantasy trilogy, as well as the Nadia Stafford crime series. Armstrong lives in southwestern Ontario with her husband, kids and far too many pets. 

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