BOOK TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Dark Territory by J. Gabriel Gates & Charlene Keel
The Tracks Series, Book 1
By J. Gabriel Gates and Charlene Keel
Star-crossed love, martial arts, and supernatural evil meet at the abandoned tracks in the deceptively quaint town of Middleburg…
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 for Aimee, 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.
3 out of 5 FLEURS DE LIS
Ignacio, or Nass Torrez has just moved from LA into Middleburg, Kansas…and it’s nothing like he expected. Nass soon comes to learn that Middleburg has two distinct and warring groups: The Toppers, rich, privileged kids who live in Hillside Haven; and the Flatliners, working class kids who live in the Flats. Nass’s mom moved him away from LA so he wouldn’t join a gang, but ironically he becomes a Flatliner.
The leader of the Flatliners is Raphael, and the leader of the Toppers is Zhai. They used to be best friends–and in fact they still train under the same kung fu master. But circumstances have driven them apart. As things come to a head between the two gangs, Raph and Zhai must decide what’s really worth fighting for.
Well, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, but I will say one thing: it was unique. Dark Territory is part teen soap opera, part kung fu flick, and part supernatural fantasy. And does this odd combination work? Sort of.
The characterization was surprisingly well done, for a book with SO many characters to follow. Zhai and Raphael are not just the leaders of gangs, they have depth and internal struggles. Aimee is dealing with unimaginable tragedy, and trying to live with her hateful father and brother. The protagonists were nicely done, but I felt some of the other characters were cliched. The wise kung fu master who has a zany side (he plays Rock Band). The sleazy bad guy with a glass eye and a scarred face. The kindly, grandmotherly black maid. These characters have all been seen before, and I was a bit disappointed in the way they were developed.
The plot was kind of slow throughout the first half for me. There were so many subplots that I feel could have been cut out–the book is almost 500 pages. The action did escalate in the latter half of the book, but it was kind of a yawn getting to that point.
The thing I guess I most struggled with was the rich gang vs. poor gang aspect. This has, of course, been seen countless times in West Side story and the like. But this novel takes place in modern times. I have a hard time believing that things like this would be occurring in middle America…it’s a little outdated.
The supernatural part of the story is still a little bit “meh” for me. I know this is the first book in a series, but I still wish what was going on in the Tracks would have been explained and fleshed out for the reader a little bit more. Still, I’m going to read the next book to see if Zhai and Raphael can come together for the good of the rest of the world.
About the Author
J. Gabriel Gates is a Michigan native and a graduate of Florida State University. He has worked as a professional actor, written several Hollywood screenplays, and coauthored the teen fantasy series The Tracks.
Connect with J. Gabriel Gates at his website.
About the Author
Charlene Keel is the author of a dozen novels and how-to-books. She has also ghostwritten books for celebrities, doctors, and corporate moguls.
Connect with Charlene at her website.
CLICK HERE to enter to win a copy of Dark Territory!