Saturday, March 22, 2014

Review of "The Gathering" by S.L. Dearing

Thirteen years after the third world war devastated American, and I assume the rest of the world, we've started to rebuild. It's a time of peace and overall cooperation. Every six months the various colonies of California gather for ten days to trade goods, stage friendly baked goods competitions, party, and just relax. This gathering is taking place in Lia Fail (pronounced fawl), home of the pagan queen Alia Stark and her brood of children. But an evil like nothing we've ever seen is lurking in the shadows waiting to strike. Will the gathering end in disaster?

If you took "A Game of Thrones," "Divergent," and "The Stand" and smooshed them together, you would get "The Gathering." The overall feeling is very medieval, the Starks even live in a castle, but then they mention solar panels or the LAPD and you remember that this is actually set in the future, not the past. The vendor stalls set up for the gathering and the talk of the stage had me picturing the Kansas City Renaissance Festival, although in retrospect it's just as likely that the stage would be more appropriate for a Justin Bieber concert, or maybe somewhere in between. I like my original image though and to me it seems very fitting under the circumstances.

This story pulled me in from the beginning. The introduction had me waiting to see when certain characters would appear again in the story and I didn't actually figure out who they were until after I had finished reading the book and saw the introduction posted on a Facebook page a few days later. That's when I had my ah-ha moment, and I love when a book sticks with me so much that I can still have those ah-ha moments even after I've finished and moved on to reading other books.

The mystery of the story starts fairly early on and it's not blatantly obvious for a while who the "bad guys" are. I was less than thrilled with how neatly the teenagers coupled up, everyone ending up with exactly who they wanted to, well almost. That was the part of this fantastical story that I found to be just too unrealistic. I may have been infected by "A Game of Thrones" though, causing at least a part of me to NOT want everyone to end up happy.

Overall I give "The Gathering" 5 out of 5 stars for being so engaging, well-written, and original in it's own way. I look forward to reading the next book in the series when it comes out. - Katie

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