Paranormal Young Adult
Received from TLC Book Tours for review
THE STORY (From Goodreads)When Ignacio Torrez moved from the rough streets of Los Angeles to a small town dead smack in the middle of nowhere, he never expected to find himself in the midst of a gang war. But, he soon learns, these are no ordinary gangs. The wealthy, preppie Toppers on one side of the tracks and the working-class Flatliners on the other adhere to a strict code of honor and use their deadly martial arts skills, taught to them by the wise Master Chin, to battle one another for pride, territory, and survival.
When Raphael, leader of the Flatliners, falls forAimee, a Topper girl, the rival gangs prepare for a bloody, all-out war. The only hope for peace between them lies within the dark territory of the abandoned train tunnels where the tracks cross. Under the direction of the mysterious and frightening Magician, the awesome power within the crossing sends the rivals on a terrifying mystical quest to fight the malevolent force that threatens the existence of Middleburg-and quite possibly, the world.
MY THOUGHTSDark Territory is an interesting jumble of elements, forbidden romance existing alongside a paranormal mystery existing alongside a small town gang war, and while each individual element is something that easily piques our curiosity, the combination of all of them together has us struggling for sure footing in this 500-page tale. This first installment starts out strong, newcomer Ignacio running afoul of rival gangs on his very first day of school, and continues to draw us in as the daughter of the richest man in town returns after a violent incident caused her father to send her to boarding school in Montana. There are just enough secrets in the opening chapters to have us itching to learn more, but as we continue on, we find Dark Territory to be an extravagant and almost unnavigable maze, tempting us in one direction only to lead us to what seems to be a dead end (possibly only a temporary one as there are more books) before taking us down another path that results in the same fate.
The synopsis leads us to believe that south central L.A. transplant Ignacio is going to be our protagonist, a witness to the Romeo and Juliet-esque love between leader of the Flatliner gang Raphael and Topper Aimee, however, this story surprises us a bit by bouncing around to a variety of other characters, each of whom raises more questions in our minds as we follow them for brief periods of time. The romance between Raphael and Aimee, perhaps the element that has us most intrigued, doesn’t really begin until almost halfway through, the flashes of them together captivating but fleeting as we’re quickly whisked to another part of the maze and given another road to travel.
As the final showdown between the gangs approaches toward the end, the story starts to unravel a bit, the strands of rope linking all the different elements and characters together fraying as the paranormal element kicks into high gear. What began as a tale of starcrossed lovers with a supernatural twist suddenly becomes something we can’t even begin to classify, worlds colliding and paranormal entities overflowing with nary an explanation in sight. It’s easy to grant this story a certain degree of suspension of disbelief as it progresses, hoping the concluding pages will hold some answers to the labyrinth created by all the characters and their various stories, however, no answers to any of our questions are provided. Instead we’re left a touch befuddled by the sheer number of events taking place simultaneously in the final chapters, longing for a return to the delightful simplicity of Raphael and Aimee’s relationship.
Despite some of the confusion Dark Territory leaves us with, the story itself is well written and often times extremely engaging, it just suffers from trying to do a bit too much in a single story to the detriment of characters who could have easily held our attention if their individual story was allowed to be more of a sole focus.
Thanks to J. Gabriel Gates, Charlene Keel, and TLC Book Tours, I have one copy of both Dark Territory and it's sequel Ghost Crown to give away on the blog today. To enter, please just leave a comment on this post with a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only and will run through midnight on Friday, the 27th after which time a winner will be chosen and emailed. Good luck everyone!