This is a new feature that focuses on my favorite series – what makes them my favorite, and ways that they can be even more awesome (because if TV shows and movies are going to have so many prequels, sequels, reboots, and spin-offs, then gosh darn it, so are books!) And, be warned – there will probably be some minor spoilers!
First: The Rising (#3)
This is a little unusual for me, at least for the titles that I’ve highlighted in these posts, but I really do think the final book is my favorite. We finally get to meet Maya’s twin brother, Ash, who is a pretty interesting character that I would love to learn more about; there’s some romantic development that I will do my best not to spoil in this post, but will probably fail; and we get to see the characters from The Darkest Powers trilogy again! Luckily, the rest of the series doesn’t feel like two books you have to get to the good stuff – instead, this just feels like the wonderful dessert at the end of a delectable meal. And this is probably the only time I’ll make such a food-ish metaphor.
Second: The Gathering (#1)
Come on, of course the book that introduces everything is going to get pretty high billing. Sure, it can feel like it takes a while for things to get going, but as I’ve mentioned many times in the past, this is one of those series where I just never see the flaws all that clearly, and the pacing certainly fits. I liked getting to know everyone and seeing everything build up slowly to a very fast conclusion that leads to the second book.
If I had one complaint about the pacing, though, it would be when it comes to the paranormal backstory. It takes a while for us to get real answers about Maya and some of her friends, and plenty of those answers are slowly doled out over the next two books as well. That’s one drawback of having a series about lesser-known supernatural creatures than the first trilogy, which had well-known things like witches and werewolves, and only had to explain what made their supernatural creatures a little different.
Third: The Calling (#2)
The second book is the stepping stone between the first and final books and is a bit of a “wandering around the wilderness” type book, so it’s not too surprising that it’s not quite as exciting as the first and third books, but as always, it never felt too diminished compared to the rest of the trilogy. There were plenty of things to like about this book, from the bonding going on between the group even as they’re all trying to simply stay alive, some very, very minor romantic developments, and some answers about the supernatural goings-on.
On paper, the second book probably has the least happening, and they mostly spend the whole book losing members of their group to the bad guys (no spoilers, I won’t say what this all entails), but it doesn’t feel like a placeholder while you’re reading it, so don’t worry too much about Middle Book Syndrome.
“I turned to my parents. “We have Kenji. We have my cell phone. Since we aren’t officially dating, I’m sure you’ll agree that’s all the protection we need.”
Dad choked on his coffee.”
– The Gathering
“We got out. I glanced at Daniel.
He sighed. “Go on.”
“You sound like you’re giving a five-year old permission to play with an unsuitable friend.”
“If the shoe fits…”
I flipped off.
“Watch it or I won’t marry you,” he said. “Truck or no truck.”
I laughed and jogged over to Rafe.
“Did he just say…” Rafe began.
“Yes. And don’t ask”
– The Gathering
“It’s a road!”
I patted his back.” It’s a lovely road. Now which way do we go?”
Corey looked one way, the brown ribbon extending into emptiness. He looked the other way, saw the same thing and his shoulders slumped.
– The Calling
“We’ll meet you here. Hopefully everyone will be in human form.” A wry smile. “Though I’ll warn you, he’s not a whole lot more pleasant that way. At least as a wolf, he can’t talk.”
– The Rising
“The door cracked open. “Decent?” Rafe asked.
“Damn.” He pushed it open.
“If you’re hoping to see something, the trick is to not knock first.”
“That would be wrong,” he said as he walked in. “The trick is to hope you say ‘no, but come in anyway.'”
– The Rising
“Canada?” Ash said. “You didn’t say it was in Canada.
“I said Ontario.”
“I thought you meant Ontario, California.”
“Seriously?” Tori said,rolling her eyes. “A helicopter to California? You may be hot,but your sister clearly inherited all the brains in the family.”
“Did she call me hot?” Ash whispered to me, looking more annoyed than he ever did when someone called him a jerk.
“She hasn’t been on a date in six months”, Derek rumbled behind us. “No offense, but as long as aren’t related to her, you’re fair game. Hell, even–“
Tori spun on him. “I didn’t know.”
“Um, wait a sec,” Corey said. “So Ash is hot and I’m seriously cute? Is there a difference?”
“Yes,” Hayley said, and propelled him through the line.”
– The Rising
“Was it a camp?” Daniel asked.
Sean nodded. “A naturist camp.”
“Maya will feel right at home”, Corey said from his spot on a wooden lawn chair.
Daniel sputtered a laugh and Sean tried to hide his.
“Naturist, not naturalist,” I said. “It means nudist.”
Corey leaped up and spun. “You mean old, naked butts sat on those chairs?”
– The Rising
“I need to get ready. Ash? Touch the food and I won’t take you for a driving lesson tomorrow. Dad? Touch it and I’ll make you take him for a driving lesson tomorrow.”
Dad backed away from the counter. Ash scowled. I laughed and continued upstairs.”
– The Rising
Come on, it’s the main character – what’s not to love? Ok, there are plenty of protagonists out there that I don’t like, but I happened to really like this particular one. Chloe, from the first trilogy, was similar to me in various ways – Maya really isn’t all that much. She’s a sporty, outdoorsy person who is a leader in her group of friends and never seems to be afraid to say what’s on her mind. She struggles with giving people second chances, especially after she’s supposedly gotten a first impression of them, and she has to struggle to overcome that over the series.
Daniel is Maya’s best friend and has been for most of her life. They have a great friendship, but there’s always the trouble kind of stuck under the surface of male-female friendships as romance and hormones start to come into the picture, although Maya and Daniel do a great job of being as genuine as possible. Daniel is a lot like Maya in multiple ways, with a very strong sense between right and wrong based on his gut feelings, which is related to his supernatural ability, but of course he doesn’t know about all that at the beginning of the books. He’s a sweet guy who I would love to have as my friend or love interest, and I’m quite jealous of Maya.
Corey is more of a typical teenage guy, sometimes making slightly inappropriate comments about girls (although nothing too bad, as far as I remember, luckily), but he’s mostly a fun goofball to have around. He’s much more likely to be in the background, providing sarcastic or genuine comments as he sees fit.
Rafe is the official love interest, the guy who’s a “bad boy” who quickly overcomes that stereotype to show plenty of depth to his character – although he certainly has his moments when he’s a bit stupid and says the wrong thing because he’s just not thinking that carefully. I really love Daniel’s character and shipped him with Maya before there was even a suggestion that a romance might be a possibility, but I still did like his romance with Maya – but nothing could rival his awesome relationship with his older sister, Annie. I would love to see them interacting together more.
Hayley is a typical mean girl, but like the other characters, she begins to grow out of that characterization and show her true, deeper colors. She didn’t get quite as much depth as I feel former mean girl Tori from Darkest Powers did, but I couldn’t help but latch onto her character and love her simply because she seemed like a misunderstood mean girl.
Ash only appeared in the last book and spent much of it being a bit grumpy, but I loved him anyway. I loved the dynamic that started immediately between him and his newly found twin, Maya. He can be quite sarcastic, and apparently all that sarcasm helps make me forget about any grumpiness.
I kind of forgot about Sam when I was coming up with characters, but that doesn’t mean that her character isn’t important. She acts as a bit of an opposite to Daniel – which we will learn has to do with the supernatural – and, yet again, she grows past the restraint of the mean, tough girl or whatever. Like Hayley, and Corey a bit, we could use more of her characterization, but she was still a fairly interesting character.
Maya’s dog! She goes on much of their adventures and is always looking out for Maya, so she certainly deserves a spot on this list.
I feel like talking about the romance kind of spoils things for the later books – meaning, it goes beyond the initial Rafe attraction that you see as soon as you begin reading the first book – but I will say that I loved it. I got a little worried that things might end badly for what I wanted, but I was ultimately happy with how things happened with the various boys in Maya’s life, romantic and otherwise.
I need another companion series! I want to see the characters of Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising interacting more. I think Armstrong has been releasing some short stories that do this, but until I get my hands on them or she comes out with another official series, I am going to be clamoring for more. I don’t know if I’d want to get in the head of someone else, new or old; if I’d want to switch back and forth between Chloe and Maya; or if I’d just want one of them to take over narrating again; maybe I could just get three different series that do all of this!
I am nothing if not greedy when it comes to my beloved books.
Aurora – “Running With the Wolves”
I’m running with the wolves tonight
I’m running with the wolves
Bea Miller – “Force of Nature”
‘Cause you’re a force of nature
Look at what you’ve done
I can taste the danger but I don’t wanna run
So pull me to the ground and I won’t put up a fight
I’m a caution taker, but baby you’re a force of nature
Baby you’re a force of nature
“The Circle of Life” (from The Lion King)
It’s the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life