This book, the first book of The Tracks series, is a paranormal Karate Kid meets West Side Story—but so much more. There is a mystery that surrounds the town of Middleburg—a mystery that goes back generations and involves more people than is apparent at the beginning of the book.
Dark Territory by J. Gabriel Gates and Charlene Keel
The Tracks, Book One
Publisher: Health Communications, Inc.
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (497 pages)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Rose
Star-crossed love, supernatural evil, and martial arts meet at the abandoned tracks in the deceptively quaint village 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 forAimee, 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-and quite possibly, the world.
The story begins with Ingacio "Nass" Torres being brought to Middleburg from LA because his mother is concerned he will get into trouble with gangs. Little did she know that she was bringing him to an area that is right in the middle of a gang war—a war between the Toppers (wealthy and upper class) and the Flatliners.
The leaders of both groups were once best friends and train with the same teacher—and there's more to Master Chin than meets the eye—as there are many of the characters in this book. Mystery surrounds the train graveyard. All the children know the warning:
And stay off the tracks
Don't go into the train graveyard
Or the Middleburg Monster will break your backs.
Are there actually monsters in the Dark Territory—a section of train tracks not covered by signals—or is it only a tale created to scare children? Ask Aimee—a girl from the "right" side of the tracks who falls in love with the leader of the Flatliners.
The world building is extraordinary—detailed, layered, rich—as are the characters—a mysterious man who appears and disappears at will, a woman obsessed with tapestries, a girl who is not sure how she came to Middleburg, among many others.
The action scenes are drawn well enough that even readers not familiar with martial art movements can clearly see what's going on and the strict code of honor both sides adhere to is a good lesson.
I'm looking forward to the next book in this series—there is still a lot of mystery to solve and a lot of history to uncover.