Monday, March 9, 2015

Review: Gated – Amy Christine Parker

Gated – Amy Christine Parker

A fast-paced, nerve-fraying contemporary thriller that questions loyalties and twists truths. 
Appearances can be deceiving. 
In the Community, life seems perfect. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Pioneer invited Lyla’s family to join his group and escape the evil in the world. They were happy to be chosen, happy to move away from New York and start over in such an idyllic gated community. Now seventeen, Lyla knows that Pioneer is more than just their charismatic leader; he is their prophet . . . but his visions have grown dark. 
Lyla is a loyal member of the Community, but a chance encounter with an outsider boy has her questioning Pioneer, the Community—everything. And if there’s one thing not allowed in the Community, it’s doubt. Her family and friends are certain in their belief. Lyla wishes she could feel the same. As Pioneer begins to manipulate his flock toward disaster, the question remains: Will Lyla follow them over the edge? 
From the outside looking in, it’s hard to understand why anyone would join a cult. But Gated tells the story of the Community from the inside looking out, and from behind the gates things are not quite so simple. Amy Christine Parker’s beautiful writing creates a chilling, utterly unique YA story. Perfect for fans of creepy thrillers and contemporary fiction alike.

Review: I need to get the sequel to this book immediately. I still have so many questions . . .

Lyla and her family are a little unusual. They live in a place called the Community with a man named Pioneer and twenty other families. The families are rarely allowed to leave the Community, and Pioneer is their only source of outside information. They spend their days building an underground bunker to protect them from the upcoming apocalypse. The world could end any day. The Community needs to be prepared. However, all of their plans come crashing down when Lyla meets a boy from outside the Community and starts to question what Pioneer has taught her.

I’ve actually read a lot of books about religious/political/doomsday cults, but almost all of them have been nonfiction. I’ve decided to branch out and read more cult fiction. I had a few problems with Gated, but I was not disappointed.

My favorite character is Lyla’s mom. The author does a great job of showing her grief over losing one of her daughters. I also think that she is the most complex and believable character in the novel.  I understand why she behaves the way she does, and I think it’s realistic.

The pacing of this book is slow for a thriller, but it’s definitely a gripping story with an action-packed ending. I stayed up way too late last night because I needed to know how it ended. I had to find out if Lyla and her family survive Pioneer’s crazy plan.

My biggest issue with the book is that the cult is hugely underdeveloped. The reader is just expected to believe that these families think the apocalypse is coming. I needed to know much more about how Pioneer convinced these people to follow him. I know that doomsday cults exist in real life, but I understand the mentality of the leaders and followers in those groups. I didn’t really understand the group in this book, so I had a hard time believing some of their actions. I hope there is more backstory about the Community in the sequel.

Another thing that bothers me (maybe I missed the explanation) is this: At one point, Pioneer turns off the oxygen in the underground bunker. Lyla and her parents know that it’s turned off. Everybody else will probably figure it out soon. Why did nobody attempt to turn it back on?

Even with the violence at the end, I’d recommend this book for young teenagers. The writing and the romance might be a little bland for older readers. Younger people may also have an easier time suspending their disbelief and overlooking some of the book’s flaws.

Despite my criticisms, I did enjoy Gated. It’s a quick, entertaining read with a very creepy ending. I will be reading the next book as soon as I can get my hands on it.

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