Amy Christine Parker
Genre: Contemporary, Thriller, YA
Publication date: August 6th 2013
by Random House BFYR
She thought the evil lived outside the walls.
She was wrong.
In the Community, life seems perfect. The members of this isolated suburban development have thrived under Pioneer, the charismatic leader who saved them from their sad, damaged lives.
Lyla Hamilton and her parents 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 and prepare 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 development than plan for married life in the Silo with Will. But as the end of days draws near, she will have to pick up a gun, take a side, and let everyone know where she stands.
-A copy was provided by Random House Children's Books for review-
This was a surprisingly good read! I’ve always had a strange fascination with cults; knowing there are people who have a persuasive power to such a degree is incredible. This book shows what it’s like for kids who are raised in a cult community (which has happened), and how people – especially those broken by grief – can become brainwashed so thoroughly.
After her sister got kidnapped when Lyla was only 5, her mother became withdrawn, emotionally crippled by this emptiness which made her the perfect target of vulnerability. This is how Pioneer, with his big ideas and an impressive force of belief, “rescues” the whole family from this pit of anguish. When we’re introduced to Lyla, she’s now a teenager in the midst of getting ready for the end of the world, which is only a few weeks away – as per Pioneer’s vision from above. Having been raised in this cult community, Lyla doesn’t know any different. This is why it’s both sad and compelling for us to see how completely she and everyone else in this stowed away town have been conditioned to believe such delusions. They fell prey to a monster masquerading as a prophet, yet all they feel is thankful that they’re among the few who will survive the end. No one talks to outsiders, no one watches the news; they have complete faith in their charismatic leader’s words. Mostly, they spend their days at shooting practice or getting their underground Silo ready with enough supplies for this impending doom. This whole community, not just their unconditional beliefs, but also the tight-knit organization and closeness that comes from being so segregated is very well conveyed throughout the book. Their way of life, almost Amish-like, is peaceful in some ways, but they’re blind to the evil underneath. Therefore, getting them “rescued” would only inflict pain onto those in denial; to them we’d be taking away their everything. We’d be the source of evil. It makes us feel at a loss for these people. This is why cults are so interesting to me, they’re full of wonder and exceptional character study.
Since this book explores the workings of a cult community, the pacing is not especially hurried during the first part of the book. I never found it slow, though, as I was kept captivated by the whole ordeal, and it does pick up quite a bit in the second half, especially towards the end where it gets all kinds of intense. It ends fully like a stand-alone should. If the author wanted to, however, there would still be possibilities for a sequel, albeit one with a much different plot at this point. I also want to point out how I enjoyed the minimalistic romance. It existed, but it was hesitant, much like our protagonist who has never had a chance to delve into that sector of a teenage life.
With a subject matter that I have not come across often in YA, Gated is an engaging read that begins on a slower note, allowing us time to dissect it; however, think of it as the calm before the storm. If you find yourself morbidly curious about the subject of cults, I would recommend this book in a heartbeat!
PS – This is not a dystopian!!