Friday, July 26, 2013

Gated by Amy Christine Parker

Lyla has grown up in the Community.  It's safe there.  Nothing bad happens.  Everyone works together, and their leader, Pioneer, takes care of them all.  But Pioneer has predicted the end of the world, and only they, in the Community, will be saved.  Although she's been raised for this, as the time approaches, Lyla is having trouble saying goodbye to the world she knows.  It's even harder when some outsiders cause her to question all that Pioneer has told them.

When I read the description on the back, I wasn't totally sure what it was going to be about.  Was this a dystopia? It kind of sounded like a dystopia.  It was NOT a dystopia, which was kind of a relief.  I think, much like I experienced with vampires, I am reaching my dystopia threshold.  But this was not a dystopia, it was our world, and a kid in a cult.

The book did a very nice job of showing how perfectly intelligent people could be pulled into something like this.  Cults pray on people who are vulnerable, and Pioneer went looking for people after the terrorist attacks on 9/11.  People were scared, and the idea of living in a closed off community where things were safe was appealing.  Lyla's family had recently suffered the kidnapping of Lyla's younger sister, which completely broke her mother.  Her family jumped at the chance to leave a place that held so much pain.

Once in the community, everyone worked together to build it.  They didn't have Internet or watch TV.  The children were all taught right there.  Everyone worked together, everyone was safe, no one had to make any big decisions, because Pioneer took care of all that.  It was completely innocent and welcoming.  Then, of course, Pioneer started having visions of what the Community needed to do.  And people followed him.  He was a charismatic leader who had taken them in.  Pioneer shows them video tapes of terrible things happening in the world - tsunami, hurricanes, earthquakes. 

So now Lyla's a teenager with an intended, Will, the boy she will marry.  And she and everyone else in the Community are beginning to prepare for the end.  Pioneer has told them when the end comes, the outsiders will try to get into their safe space, the Silo, so they must learn to shoot and defend themselves.  Lyla is the typical "different" one.  She's just not like the others in the Community.  She observes and thinks and doesn't feel right about shooting people or leaving others to die.  They can't all be evil out there.  Can they?  

Lyla must struggle with her conscious when she meets a boy, Cody, from the outside.  Cody doesn't seem evil.  She likes him, and he likes her.  Lyla finally decides to warn him about the end of the world...and is shocked that Cody doesn't seem concerned with this.  As Lyla learns more about Pioneer and the world outside the community, she has to figure out what to do.  Pioneer has never steered them wrong, or so she thought.  What other lies are there?  What if there is no end of the world?

The book takes a very dramatic twist toward the end, and Lyla must save the day.  In a lot of ways it was a typical romance story where a boy and girl from different worlds must fight to be together.  But I really do think it did a good job giving a look at what a cult is like and why people would chose to be there.

Each chapter of the book begins with a quote.  At the start, the quotes are either from Pioneer, one of his wise sayings, or from the Bible.  As the book goes on, however, we start to get quotes from cult leaders, like Jim Jones, leader of the People's Temple who all committed suicide, Charles Manson and David Koresh, which was super creepy.

It was a good read, and compelling.

Gated comes out August 6, 2013.

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