Some people find cults fascinating. Charismatic leaders saying all the right things, downtrodden people and bizarre forms of complete control grab some by the imagination and refuse to let go. They are worlds in which the majority of people, especially students at North Dakota State, never have the opportunity to interact with.
“Gated” by Amy Christine Parker gives readers a chance to experience the fear and control that comes with living in a cult. She does so through a young adult fictional piece.
“Gated” is about a teen girl named Lyla and her family who live in a gated off abandoned suburb known informally as the Community. Other than Lyla and her mom and dad, the Community is occupied by a hundred or so followers of a man who goes by the name Pioneer.
Pioneer discovered Lyla’s family during a low point after their daughter disappeared after 9/11. Eventually they grow to trust Pioneer and move to the Community. There they began preparing for the end of the world, which Pioneer believed was put into motion with the 9/11 attacks. When the novel begins, Lyla has lived in the Community for around ten years.
Lyla is 15 and angsty, and begins to rebel in ways that readers will likely find harmless. She and her friends do stuff like go to Wal-Mart and read People magazine, hardly anything rebellious. Yet as readers quickly realize, Pioneer believes anything that is not complete obedience is rebellion.
Anyone who enjoys a good thriller should like “Gated.” However, the novel does take its time to get exciting. As a reader with prior knowledge about cults, and possessing a smidgen of common sense, it was easy to see how Pioneer is controlling members of the community.
Readers will know when Pioneer tells a lie and will have to watch Lyla and his other followers believe the lie as truth. Frankly, Parker makes us sit and watch this go on for a little too long. At times one gets the feeling she may be stalling to get to the good stuff.
When “Gated” gets juicy, it is impossible to put down. Parker makes one care about what happens to the characters and when the Community starts to unravel, one cannot look away.
“Gated” is a victim of its time when turning young adult novels, especially ones with plucky female protagonists living in dystopian environments, into movies is a lucrative business.
Still, the idea that Parker wrote “Gated” just to sell the movie rights seems a little unlikely. Yet through the descriptions and overall tone, which both feel ripped straight from “The Hunger Games” the idea seems possible.
With the long winter break coming up soon anyone in need of a fun thriller to read would not be wrong to pick “Gated.” It is a quick, easy read which grabs one and does not let go, even with a slow stretch in the beginning.
Cults are freaky and are a rare subject to see covered in a young adult novel. There is a little violence, but not any more than one would find in any of this novel’s peers. “Gated” is packed with tension throughout, making it a worthwhile read.