The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It is so good to be reading Kelley Armstrong again- I just love her writing style, and always connect with the characters. She writes at just the right pace as well, the story keeps flowing but isn't too busy or confusing. The Gathering is set in the same world as the Darkest Powers series (The Summoning etc.) but you don't at all have to have read these books to get into The Gathering, as the links are very subtle. I was also hoping for a mention of Chloe and co. but despite their absence, I really loved this book.
The description in the book is excellent. I have always wanted to go to Canada, but this book has really made me want to see it! I could just picture this very small town in the middle of Canadian rainforest, and it has a very woodsy, country feel to it. The whole town of Salmon Creek is privately owned by a major drug research corporation and there are less than 200 citizens. Secrecy over the drug research means that everyone is very suspicious of strangers.
Main character Maya has grown up with the same people- everyone knows everybody else, and there are only 68 students in her school from all age ranges. As such, they know everything about one another, they all get along really well, and they feel very safe and very connected in their community. Maya, Daniel and Serena were all best friends growing up, until Serena's sudden and mysterious death from drowning. As such Maya and Daniel grew even closer, and they really are best friends and very protective of each other. I love the dialogue between these two as they really are so close and have their in-jokes and are so comfortable with each other. I really liked the camaraderie between all the students, and all of Maya's friends- all the characters in this book feel like you know them, they have such a believable history and "reallness" to them. She has such a sweet and easy-going relationship with her adoptive parents too, and loves teasingly goading her Dad to embarass him. When new boy at school Rafe starts trying to get close to her Maya is originally very cautious and skeptical of his interest, but his charm and honesty start to overcome Maya's hesitancy.
There are so many questions raised in this book- not only do some people seem to have odd powers, there is so much mystery surrounding Serena's death, what the drug corporation is really up to, as well as Maya's strange heritage, and Rafe's secrets. The whole story is mysterious, funny, heart-warming, and eerily supernatural, in a gorgeous setting. This is really just the start of what promises to be a great series, but the cliff-hanger ending leaves it a little unsatisfying. I can't wait to find out where this story is going! This is must read for anyone who loves paranormal YA. Book 2 is out 2012.
Still not convinced? Read these excellent reviews-
The Gathering review at Stories and Sweeties (Becky)
The Gathering review at Magic Of Reading (Leanne)
The Gathering review at The Story Siren (Kristi)
The Gathering review at The Overflowing Library (Kirsty)
See?! It's not just me that loved this book!