Krista Reviews: Amy Christine Parker's - "Gated"

Parker_GatedA 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.

Hardcover, 352 pages

Published August 6th 2013 by Random House Books for Young Readers

Lyla and her parents have decided to move into a secluded neighbourhood (surrounded by a large thick wall) to feel safer from what they consider to be a very dangerous world. The people that live in the gated community farm their own food, keep to themselves, and make furniture to trade/sell to the local town for supplies.

All of the children have been matched up; one boy and one girl that will eventually marry and be a family of their own. They have to do their part in the community as well as attend classes. A major part of their learning is how to protect the community when trouble comes. Pioneer, the community leader, tells them that their world can come to an end one of two ways: the local towns will attack because they do not understand why the community has secluded themselves away from the larger population or the end of the world. They train to shoot guns, keep their food stocks full, and practice runs in the night to the bunker in case the end arrives.

Very early in the book, Lyla gives a tour to one of the local visitors around the community and his questions take root in her brain–questions that Pioneer does not want her asking. Her parents are happy. Her friends are content. Shouldn’t she feel the same?

What I loved about the book is how well the author draws us in. The whole story is told from Lyla’s perspective and through her actions and questions we get to know how outsiders feel about the community: also, how her parents have come to love the community and would do anything for it. But Lyla chooses to question things. Her determination is admirable, and her situation is not such an uncommon thing in today’s world. It’s very realistic.

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