Reviews for Gathering Dark

Booklist Reviews 2013 February #2
Pianist Keira Brannon is determined to let nothing deter her from enrolling in Juilliard, thus escaping Sherwin, Maine, and her dull existence. But once she meets Walker, her goals seem less important. Their attraction is immediate but somewhat unnerving once Keira realizes that when Walker touches her, she begins to hallucinate. Tattoos crawl around Walker's biceps; dark forest hovers over his shoulders. Gradually Walker draws her into another world, one that is terrifying and life threatening. Johnson explores a rather unusual topic, even for YA science fiction--dark matter, dark energy, and the possibility of an alternate universe. In the alternative universe from which Walker tries to protect Keira, all music has been lost. But Keira, an "experimental" cross between a darkling father and a human mother, can either save the Dark Side through her music or be assassinated as a failed experiment. This is an interesting amalgam: a lusty romance made more so by its self-imposed repressed desire, a nod to astrophysics and the theory of dark matter, and a suspenseful adventure into another world, all grounded in references to classical piano repertoire. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
Talented pianist Keira's rules against romance dissolve when the brooding, hunky Walker shows up at her favorite music store. If the increasing hallucinations, revelations about parallel worlds, and threats on her life don't do her in, Keira may figure out how to balance love and piano. Johnson ably balances hot romance and a cool supernatural take on dark matter in the universe.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 January #2
Dark matter is imagined as an alternate universe, existing in an uneasy symbiosis with reality in this intriguing but overlong paranormal romance. Keira, a talented pianist, dreams of escaping her small Maine town and her perpetually arguing parents. Her relentless focus on music leaves little time for other pursuits, including boys, so she is as much apprehensive as electrified when she meets the charismatic Walker. She's also horrified when, soon after their encounter, she begins seeing strange things--first just an unusual piece of fruit on the kitchen counter that disappears when she tries to touch it, but soon, they are larger and more elaborate visions that eventually cannot be ignored. Keira's smart, witty third-person voice provides balance for the somewhat goofy premise, and she's a refreshingly strong character, even as she's inexorably drawn to Walker. (She exclaims at one point, "But I don't like being the kind of girl who needs a guy to save her.") However, it's obvious from the onset that there is some kind of otherworldly force pulling them toward each other, and the question of exactly why drags on too long. Still, the conclusion is a satisfying one that cleverly works in her musical ability, and readers with a penchant for the genre will enjoy both the tortured romance and its eventual resolution. (Paranormal romance. 13 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2013 March

Gr 9 Up--Nothing is going to distract high school student Keira from practicing her piano. After all, it is her talent that is going to get her out of her dead-end hometown and into Julliard. So when handsome Walker starts to work at the music store Keira frequents, she tries to keep her distance. When she begins to experience hallucinations, she is afraid that she might be going crazy. Then she begins to unravel the truth. Her hallucinations are really portals into a parallel universe called Darkside. She realizes that her musical ability has life-and-death implications and that Walker is not who he seems to be. The plot is complex, but nimbly handled. The backstories of Keira's quarreling parents, her alienated BFF, and her long-dead uncle are interspersed with the tormented reality of Darkside. Thrown into the mix is the gentle development of romance between Keira and Walker. Descriptive passages are imaginative and evocative. Keira's hallucinations-Walker's moving tattoo, the solitary door in the middle of the road, dark trees growing in the living room-come across as believable but unnerving disturbances in an otherwise normal life. The dialogue rings true, particularly the easy, relaxed conversations between Keira and her best friend. The only downside is that the rising action takes a long time to unfold. Keira does not discover that the hallucinations are real until more than halfway into the story. Still, the slow beginning gives way to a crackerjack middle and end. There are hints of a sequel.--Jennifer Prince, Buncombe County Public Library, NC

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VOYA Reviews 2012 December
Keira Brannon is a musical prodigy. She would rather play her piano than do anything else. That is, until she meets handsome and charming Walker Andover, a new employee at Take Note, her favorite place to shop. Keira may be a beautiful, talented, only child with a fully endowed college fund, but her life is hardly perfect. Her argumentative parents spend most of their time avoiding each other; her best friend's life centers around dating a loser; and an aggressive classmate's unwanted attention is disturbing and dangerous. Life is so complicated that Keira has no one to confide in when she begins hallucinating. She soon discovers the bizarre images invading her life are actually indications of a precarious parallel world, and that she and Walker are not who they appear to be. Traveling through the Darkside's menacing terrain, our brave young couple learns they are key participants in an experiment gone awry. Barely escaping with their lives, they return home to face the possibility of being "grounded for life" for telling a falsehood. Obviously, this story is to be continued. First and foremost, this is a tale of young love and teenage angst. The plot is predictable, the forbidden love theme is trendy, and the characters' dialogue is often repetitive and forced. The characters are relatable, however, and the physics described in the story's threatening Darkside is interesting and consistent. Keira and Walker's extraordinary adventures may be perfect escape reading for a young high school girl while babysitting or traveling on the bus with the marching band.--Lynne Farrell Stover. 3Q 2P J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.