Amy Christine Parker
Page Count: 352
Release Date: August 6th 2013
Publisher: Random House
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher via tour company in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Random House and Book Nerd Tours!)
Do the gates keep the unchosen out or the chosen in?
In Mandrodage Meadows, life seems perfect. The members of this isolated suburban community have thrived under Pioneer, the charismatic leader who saved them from their sad, damaged lives. Lyla Hamilton and her parents are original members of the flock. They moved here following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, looking to escape the evil in the world. Now seventeen, Lyla knows certain facts are not to be questioned:
Pioneer is her leader.Will is her Intended.The end of the world is near.
Like Noah before him, Pioneer has been told of the imminent destruction of humanity. He says his chosen must arm themselves to fight off the unchosen people, who will surely seek refuge in the compound’s underground fortress–the Silo.
Lyla loves her family and friends, but given the choice, she prefers painting to target practice. And lately she’d rather think about a certain boy outside the compound than plan for married life in the Silo with Will. But with the end of days drawing near, she will have to pick up a gun, take a side, and let everyone know where she stands.
"Kind of seems like you're trapped here, Lyla. Are you?" Cody tilts his head and studies me.
"No, I like it here," I say automatically.
I'm not supposed to feel trapped here, but now, in this moment ... I do, I can't help myself. I am trapped. For good reason, sure, but trapped all the same.
At the brink of a falsely prophesied societal ruin, a cult known only as The Community forms around a leader named Pioneer. Not only are outsiders not allowed in... but insiders aren't allowed out, either.
Pioneer's cult following borders on insane, but it's this manic totalitarian state that readers come to sympathize with once taking a glimpse at what goes on within the gates of Mandrodage Meadows. Most people would have difficulty imagining why such a group would ever form and how it could ever work at all (The Manson Family or People's Temple, anyone?), but from the inside looking out, it definitely makes sense. The perspective is unique, expertly crafted, and constantly exciting because as outsiders looking in, we never know what to expect.
I personally loved Lyla's exclusive, imaginative viewpoint, and found Gated fast-paced and eventful. While it isn't at all that stylistically or structurally imposing, the plot is unpredictable and definitely made me gasp and double-take throughout.
While it does have a more juvenile tone to it, Gated is overall very disturbing with its grave scenes. It may read like middle-grade fiction, but I would categorize it as YA just because of its grittier content. This is serious stuff, nothing what you'd want if you're in for a fun, light read. I did, however, find it to be a perfect escape; Parker builds the Community's world so beautifully that at times, I swear I'd lived in it.
Lyla is the kind of girl who can't let go of the small things, and this is what makes her the first to wander from Pioneer's rule—which, in his book, can't ever happen. Her weakness is her passivity but she comes out of her shell when she discovers she has a strength inside of her—a strength called curiosity and ethics—that make her realize what she's been capable of all along: salvation. She has a desperate, intrinsic need to be rescued from a monster that she has yet to fully acknowledge, and her willingness to believe in good and her courage to leave everything she's ever known behind, are what will save her. When she finally faces up to reality, her insight is just what may save the misled cult members, as well... unless Pioneer has his say in the matter, that is.
I really didn't like Lyla as a character. She's a decent narrator and makes mature observations, but she just acts uncharacteristically childishly; she seems overdependent and unrealistically loyal, and her whininess doesn't earn her any brownie points either. I also thought adding Cody in as a love interest was completely unnecessary. It's a shame how a good plot can ruined by one glimpse at THE one... Lyla could have easily been inspired by something bigger and better than a cute boy.
Well-formed plot // Story moves swiftly // Action-packed // Doesn't hold back on the horrors and abuses of a cult leader's malicious plans // Relays the true meaning of home and safety
Main character Lyla is dislikable // Narration is dull at times // Lots of plot holes and loose ends // Cody could have been eliminated as a character
Absorbing and impressively built, the world formed in Gated is one readers will be staying up until the wee hours of the morning, just to read more about. Straightforward and deeply rooted, Amy Christine Parker's debut novel teaches a lesson on what evil and safety really are, and that neither can be prevented—and neither, guaranteed