Rummanah Aasi
   Gated by Amy Christine Parker is a good choice if you are in the mood for a psychological thriller that is somewhat rooted in real life events, the bizarre world of religious cults. This review is based on the advanced reader's copy of the book provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

Description: 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.

Review: Gated is an absorbing, chilling, and extremely disturbing read that examines a religious cult through the eyes of a teenage girl who begins to doubt their leader. Lyla's little sister was kidnapped in New York City twelve years ago. Her inconsolable parents fell prey to a charismatic man calling himself Pioneer, who promised to keep them safe in the coming apocalypse thanks to knowledge received from aliens. The Pioneer receives messages from up above and delivers them to his followers. He relentlessly shows movies that has the apocalypse as its themes such as The Day After Tomorrow, Terminator, 2012, etc. The members are the community are told how to dress, eat, and socialize. Pioneer controls his people with an iron fists, assigning the adolescents into marriages (Will is Lyla's Intended) and insisting that everyone in the Community learn to shoot to kill, as he's sure Outsiders will eventually attack them. Comprised of about 20 other families in a walled-in agricultural community, they hide a secret: They have dug a five-story-deep silo into the ground in which they intend to live for five years before the aliens come to rescue them.
   Parker convincingly portrays the dynamics of a cult from the inside out, quoting from the Pioneer's bible along with real cult leaders such as Jim Jones and Charles Manson that gave me goosebumps. The contriving events that will allow Lyla to learn the truth about Pioneer fits nicely with Lyla's adolescent rebellion. I only had wished the the author didn't include a flat love interest to let Lyla open her eyes. I think she was on the road to discovery love before the "cute boy" showed up. 
  Though the pacing of the book is quite slow, the suspense increases the further you read. Parker doesn't pull punches, indicating a level of brutality that will appropriately disturb even as it successfully conveys Lyla's complete entrapment in the Community. There are moments that shocked me particularly during the book's climax. The quick chapters and gritty subject matter might attract reluctant readers. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: Due to strong violence, including the harm of animals, and the book's subject matter,  I would feel comfortable in recommending this book to teens who are Grades 10 and up.

If you like this book try: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano, Chosen Ones by Tiffany Truitt
4 Responses
  1. If I remember correctly, Maja reviewed this one and enjoyed it too. I haven't read a book about a cult yet so this one is at least original. It's too bad though that you found the love interest flat.

  2. Jenny Says:

    I'm loving the sound of this one Rummanah! The dynamic of cults absolutely fascinates me, so I can't wait to dive into this one and see how Pioneer runs things first hand. You know I'm one to always root for a romance in a story, but I do think there are times when it's just not necessary, and it seems like this is one of those times. I think I'd be rooting for Lyla to open those eyes unassisted by a cute boy as well! Overall it sounds fantastic though, thanks for your thoughts!

  3. Candace Says:

    I'm very curious about this one so I'm happy to see that you enjoyed it. It sounds like it might be hard to read because it's gritty, but I think it's something I would love to read about.

  4. I agree that this was chilling in its realness, and under these circumstances, I didn't mind the slower pacing at all. Instead, I enjoyed the development of Pioneer, who I thought was portrayed excellently. It must have been hard to write, but Parker had a very sure hand and I loved the end result.
    Fantastic review, I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

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