Blog Tour & Reviews: Gated and Astray by Amy Christine Parker

September 25, 2014 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 2 stars, Blog Tours, Books, Reviews

Blog Tour & Reviews: Gated and Astray by Amy Christine ParkerGated by Amy Christine Parker
Series: Gated #1
Published by Ember on May 27, 2014
Source: Publisher
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.

Jeann’s Thoughts

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! 

Astray by Amy Christine Parker
Published by Random House on August 26, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Thriller, Contemporary
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon Book Depository

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. 


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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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18 responses to “Blog Tour & Reviews: Gated and Astray by Amy Christine Parker

  1. These reviews are genius, hun! Ugh damn those covers are gorgeous. ^-^ The idea sounds SO intriguing, and it's always interesting to read about cults! But then we look onto the dark side… negativity. Hmmph. I'm totally going to take your word for this, and I'll probably go out and skip this, or throw them into the bottom of my TBR reads. It's going to go either one way or another. Anything lower than a 3 star is pretty unsatisfying, if you ask me. I NEED BELIEVABILITY. That's the key to success in dystopias! <3

    • AWww thank you Mich! It was an interesting idea, but unfortunately kind of bland in execution *sighs*. I totally agree with believability, instead of just 'going with it' you know? That makes it all the more worthwhile.

  2. Before I say anything about the story I must say that those covers!! That's really pretty. I'm really sad that inside of it wasn't. I mean I do like the idea but stories that don't have depth and that are predictable are a huge turn off for me. So I'm skipping this. I'm sorry that those disappointed you, but amazing reviews, Jeann 🙂
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  3. I haven't read book 2 yet so I only skimmed you review. Book as for book 1- isn't it freaky to know cults like this DO exist? I was fascinated by this whole aspect. It made me really understand how this could happen. You only need someone who's a good talker and manipulator like Pioneer! And you watch Orphan Black, too? I just finished Season 1 last week so I'll be getting into S2 this weekend! 🙂 I seem to have enjoyed Gated more than you have, but I also wasn't expecting anything too extraordinary so maybe that helped. I wasn't watching OB back then either haha. Great review! 🙂
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    • Oh my gosh Orphan Black is freaking fantastic – I marathoned the whole S1 in one go and man, it is so addictive and awesome. Yeah, I guess I just expected so much more out of the cult aspect, instead of the standard YA fare with a slight twist. Oh well, back to the drawing board!

  4. Like you i'm completely fascinated by cults. I'd love to read a book about cults and just understand them better and really be immersed in the cult world. That being said, my cult read would have been both believable and shocking. I need it to talk about things I cant even begin the fathom and these dont sound like the books for me.

    Sorry Jeann! Hopefully your next read is more enjoyable!
    Lily recently posted…Dangerous Boys:ReviewMy Profile

  5. Oh damn. I'd seen the cover changes for the these and thought they looked and sounded interesting, really something new to be explored, I haven't read cult-type reads, other than having it be a sub-feature in novels, but damn, this is not good. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this series, it's not been good for you has it? Although, I'm thankful because now I know to be wary and stay away, it really doesn't appeal to me now, so thank you Jeann. You've gone right into why this didn't suit you and that's good, great reviews! 😀
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  6. I would be interested in reading a book about cults but I've read a lot of negative reviews for this series already so I honestly don't think that I will even bother picking these up. Also, I really liked the old cover, it's a shame they redid them even though I don't mind these new ones that much.

    Lovely reviews, Jeann! <33
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  7. Great reviews! I suppose I am interested in reading these books . . . but a whiny main character? Hmm, not so much. For me, personally, the likeability of the main character effects how much I'll like in the book in general, if that makes sense. But the storylines does sound very intriguing, so perhaps I'll end up giving this a shot. But now at least I'll know not to be expecting too much from it — thanks for the honest reviews, Jeann. 🙂
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    • Thanks Kara, yeah there were pages of whining that I skipped, it really did affect my enjoyment unfortunately. Overall it was just kind of bland, glad you're still keen to read it though and give it a shot!

  8. I've always been interested in cults–what drives them, how the exist within society, how they interact with society. In fact, I've read a couple books about them as well. I totally agree with you, Jeann. We hear rumours and whatnot of so many shocking things so when I do read fiction about cults, I want to be shocked. In fact, I think I expect to be shocked. It's a shame that these books, while believable, lack that extra mile. It seems as though they could have done with an extra oomph. Perhaps I'll skip these then :S Lovely reviews (both of them), Jeann. Thanks for the heads up 🙂 x <3
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    • Yeah, it felt like the fluffy YA stuff was in here IN A BOOK ABOUT CULTS? I just couldn't get my head around it and it annoyed me throughout the series. No problems Jess, thanks for commenting!