Gabriel Wolfe is probably my personal favorite of all L.J. Smith’s characters. He has some great sarcastic comebacks, an intenseness that draws your attention, and underneath it all is a tortured soul waiting to be healed. Actually, in an essay I wrote comparing L.J. Smith's "Bad Boys," Gabriel was dubbed "the original torutured soul." Gabriel appears in the Dark Visions trilogy as the most powerful psychic of a group of five teenagers sent to live at the Zetes institute, only to find out that Mr. Zetes’ intention is to use them as a “psychic strike team” to perform criminal actions for clients.
When we first see Gabriel he’s coming out of a van belonging to the California Youth Authority. Then there’s a stareout with Rob whom Gabriel has met before and REALLY doesn’t like. Following that, Gabriel stakes the best room in the house as his own and tells everyone else to keep out. Suffice it to say, he doesn’t make the greatest first impression and Kaitlyn is the only one who can get past his bad boy exterior, who seems to realize, even before she knows for sure, that there’s more to him than first meets the eye. She’s also the first one to grab his attention when she makes this remark after his rude behavior to the others “Gabriel—like the angel?” When Gabriel saves her from being attacked outside the institute, a relationship is formed, one that only grows more complicated as the books goes on.
Our first real view into what causes Gabriel to act so tough is when Kaitlyn goes to his room to thank him for saving her, and he tells her all about why he was put in lockup, about the girl that he fell for and the psychic link he forged with her, that ended up killing her, how he was accused of murdering her. Something inside Gabriel is still grieving, and bitter, and scared that if he opens up, that if he let’s someone get close, that it will happen again. His toughness is a defense mechanism to shield himself from pain. You immediately want to help Gabriel, to tell him that every thing is going to be all right. He’s one character who doesn’t just pull but yanks at your heart strings.
Gabriel makes a lot of progress in Dark Visions. Even though he’s still trying to be tough, he can’t keep the good inside of him from showing occasionally, such as when he tells Mr. Zetes that he’d rather kill him than Kaitlyn, and by the end of the book is the one who saves the day by destroying the crystal.
When Gabriel turns into a psychic vampire, it’s Kaitlyn who finds out and then keeps his secret. Gabriel, being a loner and constantly working to keep others away, suddenly has this secret that he’s sharing with her. She’s the only one who he trusts. It’s inevitable that he falls in love with her. And inevitable that he saves her in the end.
Gabriel isn’t a bad guy. He never was. He was simply misguided and afraid. And can you really blame him for going back to the institute when the Fellowship turns him away, though they accept everyone else happily? He’s searching for a place to belong. Mr Zetes and his gang seem to be the only people who want him. Once again though, when it all comes to a head, Gabriel’s heart forces him to do the right thing. In the end, when everyone else finally accepts him, Gabriel begins his journey of learning to trust again. Of course it won’t be easy, but then, Gabriel’s used to things not being easy, and Kaitlyn is beside him now, to help him along the way.
The Dark Visions trilogy by L.J. Smith
L.J. Smith "Bad Boys" by Katherine Clay
Reflections on LJ Smith