The Story
The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong is as story of a group of kids living in a remote small town on Vancouver Island (yay Canadian setting) whose primary employer is a medical research facility.  Some weird incidents start occurring, including suspicious deaths and encounters with cougars, which forms the underlying supernatural hook for the story.  There are lots of novels using paranormal characters, but this book is unique insomuch as we are not dealing with vampires, werewolves, or telepaths but rather large mountain cats.  And as a girl that always liked cats, I appreciate the appeal of that angle.

I really enjoyed the strong, sassy lead character, Maya.  At the risk of sounding like a cliché mom, this is the sort of girl that I would like my daughter to identify with.  Unlike a certain character from a certain popular vampire series, Maya does not suffer from chronic teenage angst and insecurity.  She’s confident and strong, despite losing her best friend in a tragic accident in the first chapter.  She finds solace in the woods surrounding their town and in her affinity for animals.

The Critique

Argh!  That’s all I can say about “The Gathering”.   I didn’t realize that it’s the first of a planned trilogy (the Darkness Rising Trilogy) until the cliffhanger ending!  However that definitely explained why I found the narrative sometimes seemed to drag on. The characters took forever to develop and I still didn’t find, that by the end of the book, that they were fully fleshed out. Perhaps that’s why it’s a trilogy, but I find that frustrating. However this wasn’t written for a 30-something mom, it was written for a tween or teen.

Is there any reason your child should not read this book?  I’d say not really; there is a little bit of drinking, a little bit of making out but for the most part it’s in keeping with the storyline.   I still pick my kids books, so I don’t know how much influence parents of tweens and teenagers have on their kids reading material, but this is probably one that your kids bring home that you can be comfortable with them reading.

Available April 5th 2011 at bookstores and