Keep out of the railroad tunnels
And stay off the tracks
Don't go into the train graveyard
Or the Middleburg Monster will break your back
In his Goodreads review, J. Gabriel Gates called this book "Coolest book ever written. Ever." and it's impossible not to agree with that! It's one helluva story! Dazzlingly imagined and un-freaking-believably compelling, Dark Territory is the perfect blend of literary flavors. This book has everything you could possibly want: forbidden love, breath-taking action scenes (involving some serious martial arts ass-kicking!), deliciously served paranormal elements and an epic quest! It's the coolest combination of fantasy, science fiction, mystery, supernatural, drama, romance and KUNG-FU I have ever seen! I'm in love!
The story kicks-off with Ignacio Torrez starting his first day at a new school. His mom made the decision to move them from Los Angeles to a seemingly quiet town of Middleburg, trying to prevent her son from getting involved with the local gangs. Little did she know the Middleburg wasn't exactly what you'd call nice, gang-free area...
There are two gangs in Middleburg: the Toppers (the rich guys from the "Hiltop Heaven") and the Flatliners (the poor guys from the local ghetto). When Ignacio moves into the Flats on the other side of the tracks, he automatically becomes the poor kid from the ghetto. He quickly bonds with the leader of the Flatliners, the oh-so-amazingly-hot-and-swoon-worthy Raphael. During his first day at school, Ignacio accidentally knocks the tray out of the Toppers leader's hand, causing him to spill his spaghetti all over himself. That, of course, escalates into a full-blown fist fight between one of the Toppers and Raphael (who stands up for Ignacio). The tension between the gangs spikes up dangerously. To make it even worse, Raphael falls in love with a Topper girl, Aimee, which of course is strictly against the gang rules. And like all that wasn't bad enough, there's also a mysterious Magician in town and things are starting to get very, very weird...
From the moment I entered Gates' gorgeously imaginative world, I was literally glued to the screen of my laptop (I was reading an eGalley). To my surprise, I didn't want to stop reading - ha! - I couldn't even if I wanted to! I just had to find out what will happen next - it was all so unpredictable, so totally out-of-this-world fantabulous! Gosh, how can I even put my amazement into words?! I didn't expect that, I feel K.O.ed!!!
Everything, from the well-drawn (&totally awesome) characters, genuinely unique plot line, thrilling twists and turns, to the brilliantly mixed elements of fantasy, sci fi, romance and martial arts - is simply EPIC. This is, like, one of the best books I've ever read. Seriously.
I loved Raphael, Aimee and Ignacio. I also really enjoyed reading about the bad guys - I thought they were wicked, they made me angry, but they also made me laugh at times. I love when authors breathe life into their characters, make them three-dimensional, create the whole background, build everything from the ground up in a way that not only makes sense, but also kind of makes you dizzy and excited. I truly cared for these characters and wanted to learn more about them - and I did, thanks to J. Gabriel Gates and his explicit storytelling. The setting in Dark Territory deserves a standing ovation. There are layers upon layers of well-thought-out, beautifully executed world-and-character building. This book is a work of genius - for real - with this many things happening, this many characters and this many plot twists, for an author to be able to juggle it all and make every single element so well-developed, it takes some serious skills and mental capacity. I'm in awe. I dropped my jaw long time ago and it's still lying somewhere on the floor!
The message here is as clear as the Canadian glazier water: You HAVE TO read this book. You will be kicking yourself for not reading it sooner. You will be totally blown away when you finish reading it. And you will be dying - and I mean DYING - for more!