Publication Date: April 12, 2011
(Highlight for Spoilers)
16 year old Maya Delaney lives in a very unique small town populated entirely by the families of people employed by the St. Cloud Corporation, a medical research company. Her father, who works as the Park Warden for the thousand acres of wilderness surrounding Salmon Creek, is the exception. When strangers from out of town come poking around for information on the St. Cloud Corporation, they stir up more than one secret. Maya is left questioning the death of her friend, Seri, the strange abilities that she and her friend Daniel seem to be acquiring, and the odd connection she seems to have with the new guy, Rafe.
The Gathering is my first experience with Kelley Armstrong, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think it would be a welcome read for regular readers of paranormal YA while dispensing with many of the attributes of the subgenre that turn many readers away. No doormat heroine or absent parents here. Maya is tough, smart, and just as likely to do the rescuing as to be rescued. She is an equal partner of every relationship she is in. I love, absolutely love, the bond Maya has with her parents. It feels like a real, working family with everyday problems, big and small, that they deal with together. (And the teasing conversations between Maya and her father had me laughing out loud.)
Maya's relationships with her various classmates were also wonderfully executed. Her friendships have nuance and layers of intimacy that feel right for such a small and isolated group of teens. Even the "mean girl" is three dimensional, with an understandable, if not excusable, motivation for her nastiness toward Maya. I really appreciate that Maya has no interest in Rafe at all when he is a jerk but rather calls him on it. I also like that (Spoiler) she gets angry when she finds out why he pursued her rather than turning all mopey and blaming herself for losing him. (End Spoiler) Armstrong also did an excellent job with the friendship between Daniel and Maya. (Spoiler) It does concern me a little that there may be a love triangle the future. However, if there is, it will at least feel plausible - and I don't see Maya cruelly stringing Daniel along as we see so often in other PYA triangles. (End Spoiler)
I don't know if it is because the world has already been created in other novels, but I appreciate that there was never an info-dump moment. Rather, as a reader I was given the benefit of doubt and allowed to figure things out on my own. However, the book does end in an ABSOLUTE cliffhanger. So much of the story is left unsaid, I feel as if I only had part of the book. It reads like a book with one story arc divided into three parts, and this is the first. I would have liked to have a few more questions answered in this installment, even knowing there are two more to come. Overall, though, I really enjoyed this book.
I Borrowed The Gathering from my Local Library