Strange things have been happening in sixteen-year-old Maya's small, isolated, Vancouver Island community. Mountain lions seem to be seeking her out, her best friend has a strange talent for sensing danger, and her other best friend died a year ago in an accident that just doesn't add up. There's also a sexy and secretive new student at her tiny, tight-knit school, and there’s something about him that just doesn't make sense. Add to that a couple more unexplained deaths, questions about Maya’s birth parents, and a growing sense of there-is-something-going-on-here-that-we-don’t-know-about, and Maya and her friends are about to land in the middle of something that they’re probably better prepared for than they realize.
I have to say now, I am a sucker for stories involving werewolves, or any sort of animal shapeshifter (tiny spoiler alert there, but you guys are smart people, you would have figured it out. THERE ARE SHAPESHIFTERS OMG). I don’t know why I love werewolves, I just do. Probably because I always root for the underdog, and there are too many damn vampire books out there (come at me, vampire fans! Actually, not really, please. Can’t we all get along?).
Anyway. This book reminded me quite a lot of Wildefire, by Karsten Knight (that’s going to be one of my next reviews). Maya is a badass heroine with some difficult to explain powers. She’s adopted, and her background is uncertain, but affects her greatly. She goes to a slightly unusual school in the woods, where everyone else seems to have similarly odd powers, and to be coming in to some sort of ancient birthright.
One thing I like about Maya is that she’s always making things happen. She takes initiative, she searches for information, she thinks hard and tries to put the pieces together. She is stubborn to a fault, but she can still accept new information and change what she believes. Sometimes. I also love her connection with animals and the forest. Having grown up in a forest myself, the scenes in the woods made me really happy, and the animal characters are wonderfully loveable. Even the large dangerous predators.
The supporting characters in this book are also excellent. Daniel, the protective best friend. Rafe, they mysterious new guy who is both oddly appealing and not to be trusted. Fitz, Kenjii, and Marv, the animal protectors. Sam, the punch-happy psycho chick who I still want to be friends with. Corey, Nicole, Brendan, and Hayley, who might be average high school students, but then again, maybe not. Maya’s parents, who might be hiding something.
All in all, this is a very interesting, engaging, and well written book. It is funny, it is steamy, it is mysterious, and it balances plot and characters well. However, it has one flaw that is still making me mad.
It is terrible.
I mean, I understand that this is the first in a series, but the end of the book gives absolutely no satisfaction! The first 3/4 sets up all these mysteries and questions and weird things that don’t make sense, and the ending gives you no answers at all! Well, one answer, but I’d guessed that one by the middle of the book. It feels like a pretty poor consolation prize when compared to all the delicious secrets presented in the exposition and rising action. However, I would still give this book a high overall rating, because it is excellent in all other respects.
Plot: Good pacing, lots of build up, plenty of material for the next book. The only problem is the…
Ending: which, like I said, was extremely unsatisfying and makes me want to rant from the rooftops.
Characters: Terrific! Maya is complex and well written, and the supporting characters have a lot of depth too.
Writing: Very good. The descriptions are vivid and lovely. I could almost smell the forest.
Content: Lotta making out, some gore and dead people, underage drinking and a few non-graphic mentions of sex. No swearing that I can remember.
Shut your face, I am reading this book and it’s really awesome.
Like I have said… three times now, the ending. It angers me. However, the book is very good, and after I’m done raging about imbalanced plot arcs, I’ll start looking for information about the sequel. The Gathering is an excellent book. Go read it.