Dark Territory by J. Gabriel Gates
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source: HCI, The Life Issues Publisher
Genre: YA Fantasy
Description from Goodreads: 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.
My thoughts: When I first looked at the description and started to read the book I thought that it would be similar to "West Side Story". You have two gangs. One is the wealthy kids who live on the hill and the other is the poor kids who live on the wrong side of the tracks. There is a romance that builds between a girl from the hill and a boy from the poor section. They live in a small town that has lost its luster since the railroad was rerouted.
I was wrong. Yes, there are those elements present, but this story has quite a bit more to offer. When I would think that the story was winding down and coming to a conclusion, J. Gabriel Gates would take off in a whole new direction and breathe life into the story.
There is a whole paranormal element that at times leaving you scratching you head and thinking, where did that come from? He adds pieces layer upon layer to build up to the story. At the end there are still things that you don't know and that leads to interest in a future story. There is a promise of more action and battles in the war between good and evil. It's also a story of friendship and loyalty.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It is clean as far as the romance goes. Depictions of war, violence, and gang activity are my only content warnings.