Thursday, December 1, 2011

MEN in YA: Dark Territory by J. Gabriel Gates (Review)

Genre:Young Adult, Supernatural, Martial Arts, Romance
Publication.Date  July 1st 2011
Published By:  HCI Teens
WebsiteJ. Gabriel Gates

Dark Territory - Goodreads
My review copy:Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Buy now:

 Amazon |Barnes and Noble | Indie Bound

     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.

Automatically, Raphael began doing his form: a series of choreographed movements designed to perfect each motion necessary for the mastery of Chin's unique style of kung fu. He squatted low, breathed deeply, punching, kicking, turning, stepping, striking - all with the precision of fine Swiss clock.
How has she ended up here, in this life? She asked herself for the hundredth time that day. For the hundredth time, she had no answer. There was only a sense of vertigo and a vague queasy feeling that threatened to erupt from her flat, perfect stomach.
His philosophy was that if you got punched in the face today and it hurt, chances were you'd remember to block that same punch tomorrow.

     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!

Ignacio Torrez stepped into the Middleburg High School cafeteria at high noon, five minutes before the fists started flying.
    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...
(...) the Asian kid lunged forward, as quick and limber as one of those spider monkeys Nass had seen on a stupid field trip to the L.A. Zoo, and he tried to kick Raphael's foot out from under him. Deftly, Raphael hopped over the sweep and attacked Anime with a succession of four lightning-quick punches, which Anime blocked, blocked, blocked, and blocked. The Asian kid threw a right hook that Raphael trapped under the crook of his arm and countered with a short right, which the Asian kid deflected with his hand, making a loud clap that echoed across the silent lunchroom. All of it happened so fast, Ignacio's eyes could barely follow the blur of the striking fists.
     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...

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

     I was super excited when I got my pdf review copy from HCI Teens, but my excitement very quickly turned into annoyance when I learned that every single page of this book (and I mean every single 480 pages of it) was water-marked with a huge HCI logo, that, after moving the pdf onto my Kindle, turned black, making the book impossible to read. Now I get that it's a review copy and water-marking is a piracy prevention tool, but I've never seen it done so poorly! I don't mean to complain or anything (OK, maybe I do, but guys, seriously?!), I was very, very disappointed. To the point that I almost gave up on reading this story! If J. Gabriel Gates wouldn't be so utterly fantastic and if I didn't love him as much as I do, I would probably drop it. I decided to give it a try, though, and do this one thing that I absolutely hate doing - read on the computer. From the moment I entered Gates' goergeously imaginative world, I was literally glued to the screen of my laptop. 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.

"But what if you have to fight?" he said.
"What do you mean?"
Raphael stopped walking and turned to face Ignacio, who stopped, too.
"I mean," Raphael said, "what if you had to join a gang to survive here? What if you had to fight?"

      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!

Stop by tomorrow for my interview with the brilliant author and a chance to win a copy of Dark Territory! 
Trust me, you want it!!!

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This review is posted as a part of the MEN in YA event (Nov 20th - Dec 20th)

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About the Author
Evie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.
She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and  chatting with fellow book-worms.
You can find Evie here: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Shelfari | The Library Thing


Giselle San Miguel said...

I had the pleasure of interviewing J. Gabriel Gates as well, but I never asked to receive the book (oops). Was too busy, so after reading your review, I'm going to head to Chapters and buy the fricking thing! It's getting a LOT of good reviews too.

Giselle @

Evie said...

@Giselle J. Gabriel Gates is a great guy, I really enjoyed working with him on this event! I'm going to head over to your website and check out your interview! Thanks for stopping by! :)

Bookluvr Mindy said...

I've seen this book one time before...I'll have to look into it more!

Obsession with Books said...

This book sounds amazing! a wonderful review Evie, it is definitely going on my TBR pile :)


miki said...

Without your review i don't think i would have picked this book ( and i won't probably know it existes-_-;;)
i'm really happy for this discovery i would like to read how he mixed romance, martial arts and such

thanks you

Asheley T. said...

ok, wow! i've never heard of this one. and to be honest, i haven't ever considered reading a book about martial arts - i'd probably have looked beyond it because it is something i don't really know about.

BUT, of course, your thoughts are pretty convincing! "The setting in Dark Territory deserves a standing ovation." HELLO! that's an amazing compliment for a book. and i love the way you talk about the characters being three-dimensional -- if there is anything i love in a book, it is a well-developed group of characters.

so now, miss evie, you've managed to make me consider a book about something i probably wouldn't have before. my tbr stack is gently weeping, lol. :)

great review, as always.

Lisa Richards/alterlisa said...

I'm impressed that the book was so great that you could tolerate reading it on your computer. Definitely going on my wishlist.

Janie said...

I really love that third quote you shared. Those are epic words of wisdom right there!

It sounds like a completely different type of story and I'm really excited to read it. Very think-outside-the-box!

Anonymous said...

Oooh! This book sounds fantastic. I love reading books about star-crossed lovers. This book is heading towards my TBR pile.

Thanks for the book review, I really enjoyed hearing your thoughts. :D

druidgirl said...

I just read your review of Dark Territory it sound wonderful. I normally would not read a book on martial arts but after the review and your thoughts I am going to try this one

roro said...

great review,

FireStarBooks said...

My goodness, your reviews are always soooo well written. I hope I could write reviews like you!!

Andra Lyn said...

So...I'm not exactly sure what this says about me...but I'm loving all the fighting and violence of those guess there's a reason that Hockey is my favorite sport...I also love their names...Ignacio, exotic :) I just requested this for my library...hopefully they get it in soon cause I want it now!

Vanessa said...

Wow, love the review very detailed. This book sounds fantastic! I can't wait to read it.

Aleksandra said...

Ok, you convinced me! :D You had me at: "It's the coolest combination of fantasy, science fiction, mystery, supernatural, drama, romance and KUNG-FU I have ever seen!". Reading the rest of the review just made me want it even more ;) so, thanks for the amazing review! Already was on my wishlist, but now it's on my must-read list!

Sana said...

This book seems really great and I wouldn't have known it exists if not for your blog! =D

Love the review

Mary @SweepingMe said...

I have read all of J. Gabriel Gates books - I am reading second in the series of Dark Territory. He is just fantastic!!!

So are his books!


Adventurewithashley said...

I am so glad you love it! I just bought this book today! I love how the story is like sci-fi and about gang! And did you mention KUNG-FU?!!! :O OMGG!~~

Unknown said...

Wow!! Such an interesting book. And your review made this book more interesting. But the cover seems familiar, kinda similar with Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout, except the kungfu part.

Thanks for the review.

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