Series: Gated #1
Published by Ember on May 27, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Thriller, Young Adult
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A 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.
Have you ever wondered how people can just follow a cult leader into whatever crazy thoughts occur in his head? The Gated series explores Lyla’s time in the Community following the Pioneer, a cult leader who is preparing for the End.
The scary thing about Gated, is that there are cults out there, especially those preparing for Rapture or the apocalypse to happen. I found it absolutely fascinating and also sickening, how these followers, including Lyla’s family, could just believe whatever craziness spouted from their leader’s mouth. They have their “Intended” ones who they are meant to marry, their own roles in society, endless training and even an underground silo, which is built to serve as a bunker while the rest of the world supposedly ends. This exploration of cults, exploitation of children and lies and half truths was scary and realistic.
He can’t take the burden of all of us on his shoulders, not when they’re already heavily weighted down with running the Community and preparing the Silo. He had the courage to step up and buck the disbelievers, to gather us here to save some remnant of humanity.
Pioneer was scarily charismatic, the way he made everyone felt special, like he cared for them personally and wanted to take care of them. As unreal as it sounds, it was kind of easy seeing how and why his followers would believe him so easily, especially with Lyla’s mother not wanting to face the real world after her younger daughter was abducted. His followers, including Lyla, treat him like some sort of God or messiah, and fear disappointing him. But we all know people with too much power can never be a good thing, which is why things spiral out of control as Lyla uncovers his lies.
Although Pioneer was strangely fascinating, I wanted so much more out of Gated. I’ve already witnessed many different cults in TV series, like the Walking Dead’s Governor and the Proletheans in Orphan Black. Compared to these fascinating and sickening exploitation of humans, where the cult leaders really take advantage of people from faking deaths, issuing kill orders, and even exploiting children as surrogate mothers, Gated was way too innocent in that respect. I wanted to be shocked and abhor Pioneer, but he failed to move me in such a way, until the end where it was too little too late. It all felt a bit too vanilla and innocent for me, but perhaps I’m just twisted that way.
If not for him, we would be as doomed as the rest of the world. He’s our only hope for a future.
Lyla on the other hand, was a super whiny character. I skipped pages worth of her moaning about how difficult her life was not being strong enough, or people not believing the truth about Pioneer. While she was definitely naive enough to be influenced by the cult, she doesn’t seem to be smart or level headed. She’s been taught the ways of the cult ever since she was 5, but at the mere mention or thought of romance with Cooper, she’s already breaking the rules.
I did enjoy Gated for the unique yet bland exploration of cults. Was it believable? Yes, but it lacked a certain amount of passion or depth to really make me believe in it. And like all typical YA books, it has to be about the romance. I could take it or leave it.
Rating: 2 out of 5
Thank you to Random House Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Lyla is caught between two worlds. The isolated Community that she grew up in and the outside world that she’s navigating for the very first time. The outsiders call the Community a cult, but Pioneer miraculously survived a shooting that should have killed him. Are the faithful members right to stay true to his message? Is this just a test of faith? One thing is for sure: the Community will do anything to bring Lyla back to the fold. Trapped in a spider’s web of deception, will Lyla detect the sticky threads tightening around her before it’s too late? She’ll have to unravel the mystery of what Pioneer and the Community are truly up to if she wants to survive.
Suspenseful and chilling, Astray is Amy Christine Parker’s nerve-fraying sequel to Gated. This fast-paced psychological thriller is masterfully plotted and sure to leave goose bumps. Perfect for fans of creepy YA thrillers and contemporary fiction alike.
While Gated dealt with the daily life of the Community and the cult leader Pioneer, Astray explores the prejudice of outsiders as the cult is free from their habitat. Lyla and her community friends go to school, their family members appear in public and are raving mad as they chant and kneel and beg, and watching it all happen was like an impending train wreck.
The scary thing about Astray, while it was apparent that the Community members were all raving lunatics, was how believable Pioneer’s logic was. Even though Lyla knows the truth about her cult and her leader, she still has her doubts about whether Connor and the ‘Outsiders’ are telling the truth, and what can be manufactured. From being ingrained with a belief since she was young, she is constantly torn in Astray – whether she believes her family and community, or the Outsiders who have taken her in.
One thing I was constantly asking myself in the first and second books – if the Community were living in ignorant bliss, but they weren’t harming anyone, then what was wrong with that? My problem from the first book finally bore fruit here, as their twisted ways, psychological warfare, manipulation and brainwashing are revealed here, which seemed a lot more believable.
Like the first book, I felt like a lot of it was predictable and bland, just running through the motions of what prejudice is like for people who don’t understand your way of life. Lyla continues to be whiny throughout, and I skipped a lot of her doubt and internal dialogue. There’s a more sinister edge in this one though, as Lyla is under threat from Pioneer and the town’s citizens who act like mean girls.
Astray was a great follow up to the first book, exploring the outsider reactions to a cult. It escalated the craziness of the Community and the lengths a cult leader will go to retain control of his followers. The sinister edge here was a welcome addition, as I felt it was a lot more thrilling. Overall though, this series is kind of predictable and lacks a certain depth for me.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.