Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #56: Gated

I received this book for free from YA Books Central in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #56: GatedGated by Amy Christine Parker
Series: Gated #1
Published by Random House BFYR on August 6, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Thriller
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: YA Books Central
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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.

Recommended by: Scott Pilgrim

Hmmm. Well, Gated. So I read it. The reviews have been really solid across the board so far, and I can totally see why that’s the case. I do feel like Gated is a good book, but I never got really sucked into it for reasons I’ll delve into later. Ultimately, though entertaining, I think Gated could have delved a bit deeper and darker into not just the end but the brainwashing aspect.

Cults hold a lot of fascination for me, probably in the same messed up part of my brain that can’t resist books or non-fiction about serial killers. There’s something so fascinating about the way that a charismatic leader can talk people into just about anything. That is terrifying in a way that straight up horror with the chasing and the violence is not. YA hasn’t done much with cults to my knowledge; I think this is my second book about a cult, and this one’s definitely the better of the two.

Pioneer leads Mandrodage Meadows, a simple community that lives as separate from the rest of society as possible. On the surface, their little community’s a bit odd, but, when you dig down into it, things get creepy fast. For one thing, the teens, who are the youngest in the community (this I do approve of *coughs* mostly kidding), are all paired off. Pioneer matched them up into affianced couples. Also, they’re not allowed to leave the walled community without express permission from Pioneer. They all also need to practice shooting, in preparation for killing other humans, who might try to break into the silo and steal their stuff in the coming Armageddon. The Brethren, who speak through Pioneer, will only protect the chosen.

Lyla’s family fell in with Pioneer when he came to sympathize with them following the abduction of the eldest daughter. He found people mired in grief and weak to suggestion of anything that might make life better, and who, more to the point, had the required skill sets he needed. Cult leaders have to be smart and ruthless.

There are a lot of intense scenes in Gated, and it will have a lot of appeal for thriller fans. Even the romance is done fairly well, I think. Lyla becomes a bit overly obsessed with Cody, but that’s a nice metaphor for her longing for something outside the community. She’s curious about him because he’s something new and her engagement to Will isn’t want she wants. He signifies her desire to explore something else. It’s not so much about him in my mind as about anything that’s new and different.

Unfortunately, I never bonded with Lyla. She is both too naive and not naive enough to work for me in this context. I think the reason I felt so ambivalent was that she was questioning the society from the start. Though I can see most of the others buying into Pioneer’s schtick, she never really did and she’s fairly naive, so I never felt as intimidated by him or the cult as I think I should have. Perhaps if there had been some flashbacks to the referenced time period when she really didn’t think Pioneer was all that, I would have felt more of her pain in seeing her whole world shaken by the realization.

My other issue is that, though initially listed as a standalone, Gated now has a sequel to follow. Honestly, Gated works just fine as a standalone and I don’t see why one is needed in this case. While it’s not Parker’s fault, I’m losing patience with the endless onslaught of the few standalone novels becoming sequels.

Readers who enjoy thrillers will definitely want to check out Gated as will, for lack of a better term, cult enthusiasts. There’s a lot of action and a lot of creepiness in here to enjoy. I don’t know that I’ll be continuing to the sequel, but this was fun enough on its own.

Favorite Quote:

The weird thing is that it still could. I mean, it won’t, of course, but on any given day anything’s possible. It’s what makes being here—on this planet—scary. We can’t predict what will happen. We can’t control any of it. Good things. Horrible things. We can only deal with it as it comes.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

eh shrug

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8 responses to “Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #56: Gated”

  1. Roro says:

    I agree that standalones should stay standalones . Ok I’m happy with some that got sequels . Now that I know gated is part of a series I’m a bit hesitant to get it . I’m the weird one that I need to continue series I have started .tnx for the review
    Roro recently posted…Review: Out Of The Pocket by Bill KONIGSBERGMy Profile

  2. SO I am with ya when it comes to reading about cults, they definitely fascinate me too which was one of the main reasons I picked this one up. I too just found out that it was a sequel.. I have no idea how that one will turn it. I was prepared for it to be a standalone.
    Ashley @The Quiet Concert recently posted…Stacking the Shelves (58) – Feb 8thMy Profile

  3. Angie F. says:

    Doctor House!!! Love!!!

    I’ve been on the fence about reading this one. I love the idea of a cult, but then again, I just don’t know. It sounds like it was well done, but it’s unfortunate that a perfectly fine standalone is being turned into a series. I’m compelled to read sequels! Maybe I’ll just wait to see how the reviews for the sequel look before making a decision.
    Angie F. recently posted…Review: The Drowned Forest by Kristopher ReiszMy Profile

  4. Sarah J says:

    I loved Gated, but you bring up some of the same problems I had with it also. Lyla was so naive and her naivety usually only made me so angry with her. I don’t understand why they have a new sequel or a cover change. The cover change isn’t bad, but I prefer this one.
    Sarah J recently posted…Vampire Academy Movie Review!My Profile

  5. I do enjoy reading of cults, so I will give this one a try. The character problems do seem weird though. I hope it will work for me. I don’t mind that Gated is part of a series. I generally prefer series to standalones (I’m probably the minority in that). Great review!
    P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex recently posted…The Weekly Progress: The Olympic EditionMy Profile

  6. Hmm i think that the reviews for this book have been pretty middle-ground, so I think I may skip this one. Lyla seems like a hard character to relate to, especially with how she’s naive. I’d have a hard time feeling intimidated by the cult and Pioneer if I was seeing it through Lyla’s eyes, as well. I hate standalones that get sequels, as well, because the first book is always fine by itself and the sequel almost never surpasses the first book and is usually a lot worse. If I ever do read this one (which seems doubtful at the moment despite how much the thriller and cult aspect intrigues me) I probably won’t read the sequel. If you do end up reading it, I hope you like it! Fantastic review, Christina! <33
    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted…The Real Prom Queens of Westfield High by Laurie Boyle Crompton Blog TourMy Profile

  7. YES! The whole standalones suddenly getting sequels is mad annoying. Like stop it publishers, just stop. I want to see what else authors can do besides revisiting the same world and same story over and over and over again, ha ha.

    Aside from that, I definitely liked Gated better than you. I think it was easier for me to connect with Lyla, plus I have a soft spot where cult books are concerned.

  8. Bekka says:

    I love the term “cult enthusiasts.” I totally agree with everything you said in this review, especially about the romance and Lyla’s longing to be away from the community.

    I was so disappointed when I heard there was going to be a sequel. In my mind, Gated ending perfectly, and I honestly see no room for a sequel at all.
    Bekka recently posted…Book Review of Split Second by Kasie WestMy Profile

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