cover image Dark Territory

Dark Territory

J. Gabriel Gates and Charlene Keel. HCI Teens, $10.99 trade paper (476p) ISBN 978-0-7573-1574-9

Like a freight train, this weighty novel, which opens the Tracks series, starts off slowly and gradually picks up speed. Gates and Keel make their YA debuts with a tale that's part West Side Story, part supernatural mystery. In the small town of Middleburg, young residents are split into rival gangs%E2%80%94either members of the rich and influential Toppers or working-class Flatliners. When Flatliner leader Raphael falls in love with Aimee, a Topper, friction flies between their families and factions. Meanwhile, newcomer Ignacio Torrez accidentally fans the flames by running afoul of the Toppers. Add to that the ancient martial arts master teaching kung fu to youths from both sides, a monster dwelling in the long-abandoned train tunnels nearby, dinosaurs, samurai warriors, and a magician with a hidden agenda, and the authors have laid the groundwork for an ambitious though convoluted tale that sometimes gets lost amid the sheer number of disparate elements. The overall effect is that of a summer action flick, with all the expected over-the-top situations, sequences, and dialogue. Ages 12%E2%80%93up. (July)