I've been waiting for The Maze Runner to come in, and was looking for a friendship story to hold me over until it arrived at my library. Raven's Gate was one some of my friends have read and described as having a good friendship stories and an agonizing ending in the last book in the series. I figured why not. In the words of Hiccup, "Pain. Love it."
Matthew Freeman is an orphan living with his aunt and her boyfriend, both of whom are the furthest thing from anything like good guardians. To deal with is loneliness and other issues going on in his life, Matt ends up hanging out with a boy named Kelvin, who is known for shop lifting and general trouble making. Kelvin convinces Matt to help him with a warehouse robbery, where Matt is caught and put into a special program where trouble teens are sent to live on farms. There is a problem, though, with the farm Matt is sent to live at. Something is wrong, not only with the woman made his new guardian, but with the village and the events surrounding Matt's life, and all of it is connected to the mysterious Raven's Gate.
This book didn't have the friendship I was hoping for, at least not until near the end. It did have some unexpected surprises which kept me reading. The story reads as something between a mystery and a horror story, though I didn't find the "horror" parts to be the kind which kept me up at night.
There were parts - such as a disturbing cat, people dying, and whispers in the night. But in some ways, I didn't feel like it went overboard, though I suppose I would be wary of recommending it to younger readers.
Matt isn't the typical troubled teen.At lot of the time his acts of rebellion felt more brought on from no one understanding him or believing the things he said. Then there was the woman he was sent to live with, and he rebelling against her was mostly just because she was creepy and and something of a slave driver. (This saying, I don't think teen rebellion is ever right, I just felt this one was of the few cases of it where it was actually explained as to WHY.) And Matt was one of those characters the reader can relate to while cheering on and pitying.
There were other characters I loved as well. Detective Mallory and Richard Cole being the top two. Especially Richard. I was attached to him by the end of the book.
Over all I enjoyed the story, there should be a note of caution though. There is a mention of the Old Ones in the story, who are described as demons though felt more like Titans from Greek mythology. While there is a strong line between good and evil in this book, there is mention of witchcraft - shown to be bad - and the things that go along with it. Chanting, lines drawn on the ground, sacrifices. I would advice anyone who reads it to read with caution, and it is because of these I would be careful of who I recommend the book to.
As I said though, there is a clear line of what is good and evil in the book which I liked. So often the evil in stories is blurred to be seen as okay, it is nice to have stories were evil is shown as evil. And again, while Satin is mentioned, the way the Old Ones are talked about left me with the impression of Titans, not Satin. (Another note, it does mention evolution a couple of times, just in dinosaurs being millions of years old.)
And now that I have pointed out the issues I did have with the story, I will again said I did like the book. I plan to finish the series, with my friend. So we can sob over the last book together. (Because we have both been warned that sobbing is involved.)