Review: The Gathering (Armstrong)

AUTHOR: Kelley Armstrong
SERIES: Darkness Rising, book 1
PUBLISHER: HarperCollins
PUBLICATION DATE: April 12, 2011
ISBN: 9780061797026
PAGES: 359
SOURCE: my library
GENRE: paranormal romance

SUMMARY: A year after her best friend Serena’s mysterious death, Maya has tried to move on. She’s become closer with Serena’s boyfriend, Daniel, and life has gone on despite Maya’s feeling that there is more to Serena’s death than is apparent. When resident bad-boy Rafe starts vying for Maya’s attentions, she at first brushes him off as a player. But Rafe seems to understand Maya in a way no one else does. As the number of unexplained deaths rises, Maya learns long-hidden secrets about her family history, her close-knit small town, and the pawprint-shaped birthmark on her hip.

WHAT I LIKED: A page-turner. I read The Gathering in about a day and a half, which is a decent reading speed for me. I am a fan of Kelley Armstrong’s books, having immensely enjoyed the Darkest Powers trilogy a couple of years ago. I still recommend The Summoning frequently in my library. The Summoning remains a popular choice among my students, and many of them go on to read the entire trilogy.

The unique top-secret medical community setting on Vancouver Island is another plus. This setting is immediately mysterious and, for the most part, closed off from the rest of the world. With thick forests filled with cougars, bears, and tons of other wildlife, Maya thrives in her idyllic community. Setting is so important to this story, it is almost a character in itself.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE: Though I read The Gathering quickly and with interest, I am a bit disappointed. It is well-paced with lots of action and romance, but I can’t honestly say I loved it. It feels like something is missing that could have made The Gathering great.

The protagonist just irritates me. Maya seems too perfect, and I hate that it seems like everyone in the whole town is either obsessed with her or in-love with her. She’s gorgeous, smart, gentle, fun, athletic, loves animals, and never gets into trouble. It seems her only flaw is her inability to forgive people their mistakes. Big deal–all she does is ignore them. I wouldn’t want to be friends with someone who broke into my locker to steal my math homework either.

No chemistry between Maya and Rafe. While I liked and connected with Daniel (despite his overprotective, overbearing ways), I did not feel anything for Rafe. What’s so special about him? He’s the bad-boy, but not really. He’s the player who always gets the girl, but he doesn’t really want them. (Oh, except for Maya, because she’s so perfect!) He’s very poor and takes good care of his older sister. That’s nice, I guess, but it doesn’t make him a great romantic lead. Maya and Rafe kiss many times in The Gathering, but every one of them lacks sizzle.

Cluelessness. What is with the girls in YA lit who don’t get all the millions of hints that their best (boy) friend is in love with them? How does this continue to escape them? I kept wishing for one romantic scene with Daniel, who has been there for Maya through thick and thin and obviously loves her, but it just never happened. And Maya, despite her smarts and feral intuition, remains clueless.

The ending. What the heck was that? Too much running around in the woods, not enough answers. Then it just STOPPED, leaving way more questions than answers. I guess I’ll have to read The Calling to get some of those.

The front cover. Why is Maya blue? Why is her earring so sparkly?

THE BOTTOM LINE: It’s well-paced and interesting with flaws in character and romantic chemistry. I’m glad I read it though, and I might actually read the sequel. Some day.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We have it. It gets some checkout, particularly from readers of The Darkest Powers trilogy.

READALIKES: The Summoning (Armstrong); Prodigal Summer (Kingsolver); Born at Midnight (Hunter); After Dark (Gayle), Shiver (Stiefvater)


  • Overall: 3/5
  • Creativity: 4/5
  • Characters: 2/5
  • Engrossing: 4/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Appeal to teens: 4/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5


  • Language: none
  • Sexuality: mild-medium; some intense kissing, a couple of sexual innuendos that will be lost on younger readers
  • Violence: mild-medium; murder, cougar mauling a bloody human arm
  • Drugs/Alcohol: medium; teens drink at a party, someone puts drugs into Maya’s soda
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop