The Gathering (Darkness Rising, Book 1)

The Gathering - Kelley Armstrong This review can also be found on my blog.

If there is one thing that I will always love about Kelley Armstrong’s characters, it’s that she can write one kick-ass female lead. I first fell in love with Elena and Paige in her Women of the Underworld series, and in The Gathering, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Maya and her friends. This is no wishy-washy, wait-around-for-the-boy-to-love-me kind of female characters. Maya is smart and independent. She don’t need no man to make her happy, and for that I love her, because it’s not something you see all to often in YA of this nature.

The Gathering centers around Maya, a 16-year-old living in a very small town (population: 200) on Vancouver Island. The town is so small because it’s populated entirely by employees of a medical research company and their families. Maya has always had a strong affinity towards nature, able to heal and and release injured wild animals. Cougars, in particular, have always taken a strong liking to her. It’s only when Maya starts getting close to the new kid, Rafe, and his sister Annie, that she realizes that there might be more to her talents than meets the eye.

There were a lot of things I really adored about this book, other than just the main character. I really liked how the story took place in a small medical-research community (called Salmon Creek), and how that added an eerie note to the entire novel (it reminded me a little bit of the Umbrella Corporation). A lot of the story takes place in the forests surrounding the town, and even though I am definitely not an outdoorsy person, I don’t think I’d mind taking a stroll around Maya’s neck of the woods.

I also really enjoyed the fact that this wasn’t a book about werewolves or vampires or any other the other supernatural beings that are typically featured in YA paranormal fantasy. Though we aren’t given a lot of details about Maya’s powers, they are definitely something that I want to read more about! It’s exciting because with a new sort of supernatural being, it’ll be interesting to see where Armstrong goes with the different abilities and weaknesses, etc.

It was a little bit frustrating because this book ends on quite the cliff-hanger. This book seemed like it was just a set-up for the rest of the trilogy, and there wasn’t too much action or a huge climax at the end or anything. It’s more of a way to ease the reader into Maya’s world, and that might be a little boring for some. I was hooked, though. I can’t wait until April for the next one to come out.

Also, apparently, there is another trilogy that Armstrong wrote before this one that takes place in the same universe, so things might make more sense if you read that one first. I’m definitely going to order them from the library.