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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.

352 pages, Hardcover

First published August 6, 2013

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About the author

Amy Christine Parker

7 books324 followers
AMY CHRISTINE PARKER is the author of the critically acclaimed duology, GATED and ASTRAY as well as the standalone thriller, SMASH & GRAB. GATED was a nominee for both the Sequoyah Book Award and the South Caroline Junior Book Award and was a YALSA Quick Pick for reluctant readers. Amy's latest novel--her first horror/thriller mashup, FLIGHT 171, releases in October 2022. She writes full-time from her home near Tampa, Florida, where she lives with her husband, their two daughters, and two very mischievous cats. Visit her at amychristineparker.com and follow her on Twitter @amychristinepar.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 615 reviews
August 15, 2013
No spoilers

Jonestown. Heaven's Gate. Warren Jeffs. Child brides. Cults. They're inherently fascinating to most of us.

This was an excellent book, but it was not a light book, nor a happy book. Then again, one does not walk into Mordorstart reading a book about cults expecting to be merely entertained. We read books about such people, about such communities because they are morbidly riveting. The psychology behind them, the charisma of the leader, the type of people who would buy into---what is to the average person---an utterly ludicrous idea is such an intriguing one.

I loved this book, but I cannot say I enjoyed reading it, because it was such a harrowing experience.
“I can’t really be bothered by something if I don’t know that it exists. I like where I live and how I live. The smaller your world is, the safer it is, you know? I may not know about every kind of junk food or movie or book, but I don’t have to worry about someone taking someone that I love, or eating something that might ultimately kill me, or wondering every morning if someone will come to my school with a gun and shoot me or my friends, or if a group of terrorists will come and blow up the building where my parents work. The world can be a pretty scary place to live. It’s a lot less scary when there isn’t so much of it open to you."
This book is told through the eyes of 17-year old Lyla. She and her parents have been living in Mandrodage Meadows (an anagram for Armageddon Meadows), headed by the astoundingly charismatic leader, Pioneer. Theirs is what we of the outside world would call a "doomsday cult." Theirs is a small community of around 20 families all working together to financially support the community, all coming from the outside world and personally selected by Pioneer to be "saved."

They are the lucky ones, they are the chosen; they will be saved by the Brethren, like the animals on Noah's Ark, when the end of the world comes. And it is coming very, very soon. This book was so gut-wrenching to read, and absolutely riveting for the incredible psychological insight within such a community, within the hearts and minds of people. The things people will do to stay safe, to protect their loved ones. There is a scene involving Lyla's parents near the end that was absolutely wrenching to read. Every single person inside Mandrodage Meadows was realistic for me.

Pioneer: even if he is not the main character, he is absolutely larger-than-life within the book, as well he should be. I felt his charisma, I saw his techniques of manipulation and how utterly well-done it was. He is, without a doubt, the mastermind of the community. It takes a special kind of person to lead a cult, to get people to believe in you, to control them and their beliefs, and throughout the book, Pioneer was utterly credible as the master manipulator that he was.

I was horrified and fascinated by the methods he used to inveigle control over a person's mind, to win their trust, to ultimately bending their will to his. He manipulates the media to his advantage, he censors everything; music, books, nothing is allowed to be seen or viewed without his prior approval, and he uses that to devastating effect. The Indian Ocean tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of 2011...everything is molded by Pioneer to serve as further proof that the world is ending soon. As despicable a person as he is, as much as I loathed him, Pioneer was an absolutely mesmerizing character for me.

Lyla: our main character and narrator. I initially did not like her, but my opinion changed throughout the course of the book. Within the first 20% of the book, Lyla's character seemed...for lack of a better word...generic. She is scared, she knows what she should do, but she mentally can't do it, she's weak, she falls into insta-love despite being promised to her beloved childhood best friend...etc. My opinion of her did not remain poor for long. She is such a good narrator, she portrays just the right amount of innocence and naiveté for someone of her upbringing, and the more I knew of her and her background, the more I found it easy to sympathize with her. It was so interesting to see through Lyla's eyes the effects of Pioneer's manipulation. She loves him, she worships him, and he uses her trust to instill fear and yet more devotion within her and the community.

I greatly enjoyed Lyla's narrative, she is sheltered, but she is no fluffy, light-headed fool. She is never malicious, never cruel to other girls, and I loved Lyla for the complex character that she is. Through Lyla's eyes and thoughts, we gradually find out about her past, and how the community came to be formed after 9/11. It is a community forged on fear, and it is an utterly effective tool.

The romance: I come off as a broken record in my reviews sometimes, because so often I do not like the way romance between the characters is portrayed. Well...here we go again. It is not altogether terrible, and the crush and romance between Lyla and Cody did not really appear until the latter half of the novel, but it still felt largely unnecessary to me. The book itself is wonderful enough and on a topic that's important enough to not need the taint of yet another clichéd teenage romance.

As much as I complain about insta-love, this book is really not that terrible. Lyla is promised to Will, her childhood best friend, whom she adores in an attached, brotherly manner. For her, Will is like a beautiful painting that never lights a spark of inspiration within her. The attraction between Cody and Lyla is more believable, and I grudgingly concede---somewhat understandable, because they are both equally fascinating to one another. Lyla is interested in Cody because, as she admits herself, her interactions with boys outside of her very limited world is nonexistent. Cody's attraction to Lyla is more of an interest than just love at first sight.
“Truthfully? I don’t know. I mean, you’re not exactly like any other girls I know. And you might be fairly cute, which helps...But I think mostly it’s because you sort of intrigue me. You’re more smothered by your parents and your situation than I’ve ever been by mine, and yet you don’t seem to notice that much...or even really mind. I don’t get it.”
“I guess I want to figure you out.”
This is not a perfect book, the ending left some questions that I wanted answered, and I could definitely do without a few characters. Ultimately, this was an engrossing book, with excellent writing and characterization. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,946 reviews292k followers
September 19, 2013

I don't know what I was expecting from Gated. My first bet was on zombies but, if not that, my second guess was Mormons. Turns out I was wrong! This is a book that starts mild and entertaining. It paints you a picture of the protagonist - Lyla - and introduces the reader to her life which, though strange, seems peaceful and pleasant. But then, like a hidden monster crouching beneath the surface, the dark creepiness starts to be unveiled to us. The community where Lyla lives might not be the sanctuary she's always believed. And the man who leads them might be hiding secrets Lyla never imagined.

Gated completely took me by surprise; from the plot to the characters to the way I felt myself getting more and more hooked as the story went on. This is one of those times when I really appreciate a creepy realistic thriller instead of something more supernatural. There's something deeply chilling about the knowledge that - not only could this happen - but it actually does in many places around the world. I've always been a bit fascinated by cults and their many forms. What does it take to convince people to give up their lives and join you in believing something that, more often than not, is completely bizarre? It amazes me even further the way these small communities tend to reject national law in favour of placing all power in the hands of their own dictator. It amazes me that some people actually have the charm and influence to make this happen.

It's weird to think that these aren't all crazy people or those who've been born into this life and know nothing else. Cults also recruit people who have your standard, 9-to-5, average lives and make them believe something other than what they've always known. It's scary. I don't know about you, but it makes me question my own susceptibility. As much as I'd like to say a very firm "no", is it possible that I could get caught up in something like this? I mean, judging by the half-empty tub of Ben&Jerry's in my freezer, I wouldn't say I'm about to win any willpower awards. Who knows? The psychology of cult behaviour is both fascinating and terrifying.

Back to the book. As I touched upon before, the pace of the novel seems to slowly increase as you move along. One minute I thought I was safe and then suddenly I'd gotten to the climax of the novel and my pulse was pounding. It's a book that will make you angry, then sad, then scared for Lyla, then angry again. More than anyone in this book, I felt such a huge sense of outrage towards Lyla's parents. They let her down, put her in danger and stood by while she was physically abused. I don't know if this is really a spoiler but I'll tag it just in case:

Possibly the thing I like most about this book is the way the author isn't afraid to go there. Not many YA authors are brave enough to put their characters through several levels of hell. I don't like situations in books (or movies, tv, etc.) where the tension is sapped out of the moment by the knowledge that the writer(s) will never dare kill the good guys or just, you know, go there. I don't even know why the Vampire Diaries writers insist on having those scenes where Damon nearly dies with dramatic music in the background. No one actually believes they're going to kill off Ian Somerhalder's character - they'd lose at least half their viewers! Okay, I will stop digressing.

There is one thing I take issue with in this book. And it's Cody. I didn't mind the touch of romance between him and Lyla because it was kept on the sidelines but I would question her decision to trust him in the first place. Lyla has never trusted anyone from the outside because she believes they're damned and evil and yet, despite this, she trusts Cody. Why? I'll tell you: because he is SO HOT. It didn't bug me in this anywhere near as much as it did in Hopeless, but I keep seeing this whole thing where girls trust male strangers/people they've been specifically warned about because of their pretty faces. It's kind of a dangerous message, even if Lyla was right to trust him. But the positives outweigh the negatives by a lot.

I really enjoyed this book and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more by Ms Parker.
Profile Image for Steph Sinclair.
461 reviews11.1k followers
August 19, 2013
One of the best possible ways to read a book is to go in blind, having no clue what it's about. If you do, the plot twists are even more shocking, the revelations are unexpected and everything completely blind-sides you. It's a perfect literary ride. In this case, I read Gated's blurb and had a good idea what it was about, or, at least, I thought I did. Before I started reading this book, I actually thought it was a dystopian novel. The blurb immediately struck me as a story featuring a corrupt society and a girl trying to break free. In this case, I was only partially right because this novel is about a girl trying to escape a corrupt society, but in Gated, her small community is being controlled by a sociopathic cult leader. Intriguing? You can bet on it.

Gated builds its anticipation slowly, introducing us to the protagonist, Lyla, whose family, in the wake of 9/11, suffers a tragedy leaving them broken and emotionally vulnerable to the charismatic Pioneer. He seemingly has nothing but the family's best interest at heart when he suggests Lyla's family, and a few other families undergoing other hardships, move to the middle of nowhere, Mandrodage Meadows, to escape the evils of the world. Pioneer tells them they have all been chosen by the Brethren (deities that only communicate with Pioneer) to survive the coming destruction of the earth happening in only a few months from the start of the novel. In the Community, Pioneer runs a tight ship never allowing any contact with the outside world except for a few supply runs done in the nearby town. There's no TV, internet, newspapers or magazines allowed for fear of corruption of the outside world. Pioneer exerts full control over all parts of their lives right down to pairing their children off for marriage.

Reading Lyla narrate the novel with such confidence in Pioneer is a mixture of downright disturbance and horror. Parker cleverly captured Lyla's fear, naiveté and ignorance perfectly, while at the same time crafting a villain that is so hard to pinpoint. What are his motives? Does he really care about their well fair? Or, how did one man manage to convince a group of intelligent, rich families to abandon everything and move out in the middle of nowhere? It was all very fascinating to watch unfold. But it was even more interesting to see Lyla slowly uncover the truth by way of her relationship with the outsider Cody. I couldn't help but feel incredibly sorry that her entire world was a lie. She's not a character that you would consider badass or weak, but rather, one who learns to adapt to her situation as it changes. In this sense, Parker did an excellent job with her character growth.

The one piece of criticism I would have would be Cody's character. I really enjoyed the romance between him and Lyla. It doesn't consume the plot like other novels and Lyla doesn't lose her head as soon as she meets him. What their encounter does bring is the one thing Pioneer has been desperate to keep out of the Community: Doubt.  She's confused over her feelings for Cody when she has only brotherly affection for her Intended, Will. Cody was never a bad character and I didn't dislike him, but as his role in the novel grew, I never felt I got a good handle on who he really was. Instead, he felt more like Lyla's way out of the Community verses a legit contender for her affections.

The one thing that I really appreciated and loved about Gated was how each chapter started with a quote that hinted at Pioneer's psyche. In the beginning, most chapters featured one from either a religious text like the Bible or from Pioneer himself. Seeing the correlation of his words and the religious quotes really sent chills up my spine because, at first, he doesn't seem dangerous and you can see how it could be so easy for someone to follow someone like him. But as we get further into the story where Pioneer's behavior becomes more and more erratic, the quotes become increasingly alarming in context. We start to see Pioneer's true nature through the quotes from Charles Manson and Jim Jones. From there, the novel steps into full-on suspense mode, making it incredibly difficult to put down.

The ending wraps everything up in a very satisfying manner for a standalone book. While, most of the loose ends are tied up, it does still leave you with a few questions. It's a chilling thought.

All in all, Gated is a pretty fantastic debut that has easily made its way to my favorites of 2013 shelf. This is a novel that I'd highly recommend readers who are into psychological thrillers and/or cult novels. If you do embark on this page-turner, be sure to carve out plenty of time to finish the second half in one sitting!

ARC was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

More reviews and other fantastical things at Cuddlebuggery Book Blog.
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,363 followers
July 25, 2013
This was a surprisingly good read! I've always had a strange fascination with cults; knowing there are people who have a persuasive power to such a degree is incredible. This book shows what it's like for kids who are raised in a cult community (which has happened), and how people - especially those broken by grief - can become brainwashed so thoroughly.

After her sister got kidnapped when Lyla was only 5, her mother became withdrawn, emotionally crippled by this emptiness which made her the perfect target of vulnerability. This is how Pioneer, with his big ideas and an impressive force of belief, "rescues" the whole family from this pit of anguish. When we're introduced to Lyla, she's now a teenager in the midst of getting ready for the end of the world, which is only a few weeks away - as per Pioneer's vision from above. Having been raised in this cult community, Lyla doesn't know any different. This is why it's both sad and compelling for us to see how completely she and everyone else in this stowed away town have been conditioned to believe such delusions. They fell prey to a monster masquerading as a prophet, yet all they feel is thankful that they're among the few who will survive the end. No one talks to outsiders, no one watches the news; they have complete faith in their charismatic leader's words. Mostly, they spend their days at shooting practice or getting their underground Silo ready with enough supplies for this impending doom. This whole community, not just their unconditional beliefs, but also the tight-knit organization and closeness that comes from being so segregated is very well conveyed throughout the book. Their way of life, almost Amish-like, is peaceful in some ways, but they're blind to the evil underneath. Therefore, getting them "rescued" would only inflict pain onto those in denial; to them we'd be taking away their everything. We'd be the source of evil. It makes us feel at a loss for these people. This is why cults are so interesting to me, they're full of wonder and exceptional character study.

Since this book explores the workings of a cult community, the pacing is not especially hurried during the first part of the book. I never found it slow, though, as I was kept captivated by the whole ordeal, and it does pick up quite a bit in the second half, especially towards the end where it gets all kinds of intense. It ends fully like a stand-alone should. If the author wanted to, however, there would still be possibilities for a sequel, albeit one with a much different plot at this point. I also want to point out how I enjoyed the minimalistic romance. It existed, but it was hesitant, much like our protagonist who has never had a chance to delve into that sector of a teenage life.

With a subject matter that I have not come across often in YA, Gated is an engaging read that begins on a slower note, allowing us time to dissect it; however, think of it as the calm before the storm. If you find yourself morbidly curious about the subject of cults, I would recommend this book in a heartbeat!

PS - This is not a dystopian!!

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for Claude's Bookzone.
1,485 reviews190 followers
June 6, 2021

3.5 Stars

Well that had some really tense moments in it!

I am intrigued by cults and this novel did a fabulous job of showing how easily people allow themselves to manipulated and mislead if they are attempting to escape their former lives. Lyla has a chance meeting with someone outside the Community and starts to wonder if their leader, Pioneer, is someone to be loved or feared. A very good YA thriller. Will move on to book two.
Profile Image for Ash Wednesday.
441 reviews524 followers
August 19, 2013
"The world can be a pretty scary place to live. It's a lot less scary when there isn't so much of it open to you."

I remember borrowing Salvation and Suicide: An Interpretation of Jim Jones, the Peoples Temple, and Jonestown from our school library when I was in grade school. Perhaps it was our librarian's underhanded efforts to caution us against joining cults and the lessons of the 70's in general (because seriously, what didn't happen in the 70s?) but that book has put me off anything grape flavored for a while and gave me a new bogeyman: a man so charismatic and mesmerizing, he could charm me into killing myself to please him.

Cult books tend to draw me in with the creepy leader, their outrageous beliefs and way of life. Gated had all these and more, but what sets it apart for me is that it paid attention to the unexplored viewpoint of the flock: how perfectly sane people could follow the whims of a man who claim to have been told by the "Brethren" when the world will end. What driving force propelled them to leave their homes and live in a commune whose sole purpose is to await word when they would move into the hole that they dug in the ground to keep them safe when the earth reverses its rotation?

It's easier to observe and attribute this collective way of thinking as the idiosyncrasies of delusion when viewed from this distance. Because it's much too harrowing and heart-wrenching to accept that someone, or a group of someones, can be desperate and broken enough to look forward to the world ending than to endure another day of it. This book exhibits great depth and maturity by shedding some sympathetic logic, outside mutual psychosis, on the pain of people who have fallen victim to a democratically cruel world.
"Because giving up is easier than having to go back out there."

As a young adult book, I can't say this delivered anything new with its story. It feels like I've watched this in a made-for-TV film before, complete with a pool fight, a pet pony and the heroine's romantic conflict between her Intended and the boy from "outside" who introduced her to the world of Coke and Cheetos.
He's my Cheeto - bad for me, but now that I have a taste of him, I can't leave him alone.

Funny yes, but instead of giving relief from the tension, sat awkwardly with me for the kind of story it was delivering and the emotions it has already successfully elicited from me up to that point. The well-knit tension in the writing almost demands a more radical twist in the plotline that only made me feel a twinge of disappointment.

Looking back, Gated still suffers from a multitude of cliches the most evident being the innocent heroine who lacks some confidence but has the kind of curvy milkshake that brings the attractive boys in the yard and draws the cult leader's "special" attention. Seeing everything unravel through her POV was tolerable at best but she teeters so very close to the edge of my patience, especially in the early chapters.

But in all honesty, the tight, fast-paced storytelling won't really give you enough time to roll your eyes. Parker refuses to let you go, down to the last heartbreaking scene. You can feel the intensity gaining weight when the quotes at the beginning of each chapter shifts from biblical passages to quotes from Jim Jones and Charles Manson. And that's all the warning you'll be getting. Because I may have known where the story was going to go but the details on the how and the who still made me gasp and generated enough edge that I was nearly distracted from all of this book's faults and loop holes.


So if you're in the mood for something that's disturbing, heartbreaking and yes, a little bit depressing because seriously, this is a solid bet. The cover promises A Thriller by Amy Christine Parker… and it delivers exactly that.
Profile Image for jennyliest.
194 reviews290 followers
January 24, 2016
Für mich war dieses Buch leider eine Enttäuschung! Es dreht sich hierbei alles um eine Sekte,- eine Thematik, die ich normalerweise schon von vornherein spannend und interessant finde. Allerdings wirkt die Umsetzung auf mich wie gewollt & nicht richtig gekonnt. Leider war die Story für mich nichts neues und dadurch ziemlich vorhersehbar. Ich habe sehr darauf gehofft, dass die Autorin irgendwann die Kurve kriegt und die Geschichte um Layla & Co eine spannende Wendung bekommt ... Fehlanzeige! Der Schreibstil ist sehr einfach gehalten, ebenso die Charaktere, die leider allesamt sehr flach geblieben sind. Mich hat die Geschichte nicht gepackt und ich war froh, als ich das Buch endlich zuklappen konnte!
Profile Image for Jenn.
1,705 reviews286 followers
July 29, 2013

Gated is the story of Lyla, who, along with her parents, goes to live in this gated community with other selected families all controlled by a man who calls himself Pioneer. Pioneer’s been telling them that the end of the world is coming and they are the chosen few who will survive, but they must be ready. They have no contact with the outside world except for the trips into the local town every once in awhile for supplies. Since she was young, Lyla has been brought up trained to protect the community at all costs and not question anything.

Until she meets Cody.

First, I want start off by saying people who follow so-called leaders with blind faith just rub me the wrong way. I don’t understand it and I don’t think I ever will. I don’t understand how Lyla’s parents are ok with their daughter being matched off at the age of 13 and taught to shoot to kill (not injure, but kill). I don’t understand parents who let their “leaders” punish their child – physically punish their child – in front of an audience. A lot of this book was just very uncomfortable and unnerving.

The plot was interesting. I liked Lyla for the most part. She was the only one around her who questioned their lifestyle – raised in a cult-type setting and being introduced to the outside world. Yes, this mostly happened because a boy helped her, but at least she was finally waking up. She wanted more, believed there was more and I don’t blame her. Her parents ignored her, her mom was stuck in the past, holding onto a lost child and completely forgetting about her living child. I felt bad for Lyla.

The other characters in the book were just okay. Will was sweet, Cody was sweet, her friends were okay. Cody seemed a little wasted and unnecessary. I didn’t feel their instant connection and he was mostly used to get her to question herself and her matching with Will.

Then there was the pacing of the story. For the most part, it was very slow moving. Just a bunch of set up for the end of the world. The last handful of chapters were where the action finally sets in and things start happening.

My main issue, and why my it's a lower rating, was Pioneer. He was their leader, telling them they were all handpicked to survive and he wanted nothing more to protect them. But as the story continued, his lies and secrets were revealed and they didn’t make sense. What was his reasoning? Why was he doing what he was doing? What was his ultimate goal? None of these were answered. There’s only so much a good plot can do, but you have to be able to answer simple questions about your characters if you want it to be believable or even understood.

I did like the authors writing style and I would be interested in reading more from her, but this book just wasn’t for me.

I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley for my honest opinion and review.

This review can also be seen here at my blog.
Profile Image for Jon.
599 reviews629 followers
August 1, 2013
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Every now and then, I read a book--a book that opens my eyes to the world and helps me see the world in a different way. Gated is that book, the kind of book that's eye opening and just absolutely wonderful. Amy Christine Parker absolutely blew me away with Gated. Gated is an incredible, important novel that I think everyone needs to read at least once in their life because it's life-changing. Read Gated and your view of the world will forever be changed for the better.

Gated hits the reader hard with a story that is extremely poignant and thought-provoking. Most books, in my opinion, don't portray good or evil in the correct way at all. So many books show good and evil in a black and white way where a person is all good or all evil. Not only is that not realistic, it's extremely irritating to read. Amy Christine Parker expresses in Gated how thin the blurred line is between good and evil; how we all have a little both of good and evil in us.

The characters in Gated are extremely realistic and they are just the type of conflicted characters that I seem to love. Pioneer is the kind of character that you will never quite be able to decipher because there are just so many layers to him. Does he actually believe he's following divine orders? Does he truly believe what he's doing is right? He's one of the best characters I've ever seen written and there is just so much to his character. Lyla is also a character that was executed perfectly throughout the novel. Her transition from being a naive person to someone who is strong-headed and strong. Lyla's character really made me question whether "Ignorance is bliss"or if the old adage is a bunch of drivel. Is hiding from the evil in the world any good? Is there evil everywhere? There was just so much to ponder over while reading Gated because it was such a thought-provoking novel.

I have never been in a cult and I will never join one, but I feel as if Parker hit the nail on the head with recreating what being in a cult is like. All of the little intricacies of Mandrodage Meadows were brilliant and well-done. I felt the looming danger that the outside world posed to this cult and the danger everyone felt. There is a perfect sense of urgency and tension throughout the novel like the world was actually ending.

The plot of Gated was incredible and was extremely fast-paced right from the first few pages. Gated is without a doubt, an intense, memorable thriller that engrossed me right away. There is never a moment where the plot is at a stalemate and the plot is always being progressed by even the smallest details. This is one of those books where I think that the romance was absolutely necessary to add to the entire picture. The ending leaves no loose ends unattended to and this makes me as if this is a stand-alone.

Gated is an incredible, fast-paced thriller that is sure to wow readers of all ages. I can honestly say that Gated has changed me as a person and how I perceive things. Just everything about Gated was enticing to me. I can't express how brilliantly this novel was executed and how everything just seemed to fall into place perfectly. I know for sure that I will be reading Amy Christine Parker's sophomore novel and I hope it's as picture-perfect. Gated is a book that will linger in your mind long after you read the final sentence, it's truly unforgettable!
Profile Image for Reynje.
272 reviews964 followers
October 2, 2013
Despite my (somewhat jaded) assumption that Gated would be yet another dystomance - a hooky premise masking some generic love-triangle angst – favourable reviews convinced me to pick it up, and I’m glad I did. Although I’ll admit I gave an involuntary eye roll at first mention of Lyla’s “Intended” (here we go..), my expectations turned out to be quite far off the mark.

This is a solid contemporary novel about a teenage girl living in a sheltered community, separated from society and lead by the charismatic Pioneer. Following personal and global tragedy, the Hamilton family along with several others retreat to build an isolated community they name Mandrodoge Meadows: a place where they can live in peace and wait for the end to come. Under the guidance of Pioneer’s visions, the Community believe themselves the chosen few who will survive, and plan to wait out the apocalypse in their purpose-built underground bunker.

Despite the pairing off each of the teenagers with an Intended, a teenager of the opposite sex that they will eventually marry, and the sudden appearance of an outsider boy, this is not a romance. The focus of Gated is firmly on Lyla’s life as someone who knows little about the outside world except what Pioneer has told her, and how doubt begins to creep in and undermine Pioneer’s indoctrination.

Parker succeeds in creating an unsettling atmosphere: outwardly, the Lyla enjoys a lifestyle of simplicity and community. Yet lurking at the edges of this idealised existence are the hints of Pioneer’s control and manipulation. This is a settlement of people who, while emotionally vulnerable, have been taken in by Pioneer’s claims of divine guidance. Seeking refuge from a world that has hurt them, they are eager to believe in the promise of deliverance from evil, a chance to create their world anew.

Parker ably portrays both the appeal and the insidiousness of Pioneer’s teachings, how he has preyed on the human vulnerabilities of grief and fear to proselytise. (Interestingly, Parker uses epigraphs from the fictional Pioneer alongside quotes from Jim Jones and Charles Manson.) Raised in such an atmosphere, Lyla’s parents and friends unquestioningly accept Pioneer’s vision of the end, their role as the chosen, and along with that, Pioneer’s abuse and conditioning. At the same time, it’s clear to the reader that this is an unstable and dangerous person wielding too much power, and it makes Lyla’s journey of doubt and realisation a compelling one, as she races against time and Pioneer’s paranoia toward the truth.

That said, not all of the plot developments are entirely believable, particularly when it comes to the climax of the novel. It is undoubtedly tense and thrilling, yet it’s difficult not question some of the choices made by the characters and the way events unfold during the dramatic scenes of confrontation between the members of the Community and the outsiders. Further, some of Lyla’s emotional navigation of questioning doctrine she has essentially grown up believing feels somewhat truncated or rapid.

On the other hand, Parker’s portrayal of the Community’s responses – from Lyla’s mother’s denial to her Intended’s anger and disbelief – feel authentic. The door is left suitably open on the ending, with acknowledgment of mixed feelings and varying degrees of acceptance. The story closes on a note of beginning, rather than finality, and that feels right for this particular story and the extreme mental stress of the characters.

Gated is an engaging novel that lives up to its intriguing premise. Parker delivers a tight psychological thriller that explores control and abuse, while maintaining an adequate pace. For readers looking for a YA novel that’s actually about cults and not just about forbidden romance, Gated should not disappoint.
Profile Image for Jeann (Happy Indulgence) .
1,003 reviews3,306 followers
September 28, 2014
This review appears on Happy Indulgence - Check it out for more reviews!

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.

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.

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.

Thank you to Random House Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Rose.
1,857 reviews1,048 followers
October 14, 2013
I think I'll have much to look forward to from Amy Christine Parker in the future, because "Gated" was probably the first YA novel I've read that tackled the issue of cults in such a complex, illuminating and enthralling story. It especially stands out with its attention to the mentality behind the community that Lyla's a part of, and ultimately what comes to be as she realizes the illuminating truth of events from the outside world.

The story takes a little time describing Lyla's background - the disappearance of her sister, the grief it caused her family, and the welcoming patronage of Pioneer, the leader of a secluded community Mandrodage Meadows. But as you learn Lyla's story, you quickly realize this is no true dystopian survival story where people are actually going to die and the world is ending with only a chosen few to survive, but rather the work of a charismatic, deeply secretive and dastardly community leader whom the locals call "Pioneer."

But Lyla's a smart cookie. She might be reluctant to shoot a gun, fall behind her peers in doing her share to contribute to the group, and be "tempted" more often times than not by factors of the outside world. In and above it all, she's a good person, and loyal to her family and friends. But the closer the days get to the proposed "end of the world" and the more she sees the darker side of Pioneer in his affirmations and punishments, Lyla's not so certain of anything.

Meeting Cody somewhat compounds on Lyla realizing that the world around her, as framed by Pioneer, isn't everything it seems. For the record, I liked Cody - I think he was a good character for the few go-betweens we see him in his interactions with Lyla. I bought Cody's chemistry with Lyla more than Will's (as Will was largely her "Intended"), though I think the romance part of the book was really too loose for me to connect to in general. What I really loved was the process of watching Lyla come to terms with the reality around her, and trying to convince the people she loves to get out while they can.

The last 20% of the novel had the strongest pacing and intrigue for me. I couldn't put the book down throughout my reading of this, but it really had me turning the pages in that part of it because of the losses, the emotional weight Lyla bears, and her desperation to get out while she could. It was harrowing, a tough examining of coming to terms, and I loved it.

The ending was a little rough around the edges in terms of tying up the threads established by the story, but I really enjoyed it and would highly recommend it for YA readers.

Overall score: 4/5 stars

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Random House BFYR.
Profile Image for Pamela (slytherpuff).
356 reviews32 followers
August 4, 2013
Review originally posted at Bettering Me Up.

Drats. Yet another book that tantalized me with a creepy cover and an intriguing premise, yet failed to deliver. It was a struggle to finish this book, and I thought of giving up several times. But I didn't want to start ARC August with a DNF!

The main character, Lyla, was a whiny brat who was just so put-upon with the whole following-the-rules-of-the-community thing.

And the whole bad-thing-that-happened-to-my-family-when-I-was-five-is-all-my-fault cliche is so annoying. I have a five-year-old. I can guarantee you that neither he nor his friends think that anything that happens--even those events that are the direct result of their actions--is their fault. And how does she have so many questions when she's been brainwashed for so long? We're told that she's a strong character, but I didn't see a lot of that.

Then Lyla sees Cody for the first time and she knows she's in love with him, even though she hasn't seen his whole face.

Um...okay? I don't really know why he was introduced, other than to form a love triangle.

None of the characters seemed true to themselves. Pioneer, in particular, wasn't a typical cult leader: he showed more manipulation than love of religion.

I was really disappointed in the end. What was the motivation? That's not the kind of END OF THE WORLD that I expected.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Sarah Marie.
1,795 reviews226 followers
May 31, 2015
Gated by Amy Christine Parker

4.25 stars

Lyla’s life in Mandrodage Meadows always seemed perfect. Pioneer protected the people in the community and it seemed like nothing could ever go wrong. As the impending end is approaching, Lyla begins to question things and the meeting with an outsider leads Lyla to uncover secrets that will destroy them all. I wasn’t sure if I would like Gated. I went into it knowing that it was about cults, which have always fascinated me, but even I know that a subject like this hard to achieve. Especially a subject tackled by a debut author. I was definitely blown away. I read a few reviews while reading Gated and most of them point out a lot of good points about characters and such. This story is a definite thriller. Slow at first, but once Gated picks up, it never stops. Parker does an excellent job of keeping the reading guessing when Lyla will find out Pioneer’s secrets and how. The story is slightly predictable, but once the climax happens, it’s nonstop action.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 4

The main female character is Lyla. Lyla is a good character, but her naivety was just ridiculous. She lived in the real world at one time and I found it odd how she doesn’t remember what junk food tastes like. I’m pretty sure her parents gave her junk food when she was a toddler, so I don’t see why Lyla wouldn’t be able to remember some of these. It just seems odd that she once lived in the ‘real’ world, but is so shocked by how good junk food is. I also found a lot of her choices to be rather foolish. It was easier to like her towards the end, though. Lyla isn’t an extraordinary character, but she is likable and well-rounded. I enjoyed her POV and it was never a dull moment in her mind.

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 4.25

The main male characters are Will and Cody. Will is Lyla’s best friend and her intended. I didn’t really care for Will. He was a good friend to Lyla and I saw that, but he as the story progressed he just seemed… off. I tried to like him, but like Lyla I only saw him as a friend to her. Cody is the sheriff’s son and I liked Cody a lot at first. By the end of the story though, he seemed clingy and just annoying. I personally didn’t like either boy very much, but they both had their moments where I really liked them. I just didn’t swoon over these love interests.

Swoon Worthy Scale: Will: 3.5 Cody: 3.5

The Villain- Pioneer is probably one of the best villains I’ve come across in YA in a while. He’s methodical, manipulative, and cold. I hate Pioneer with a passion and he is a truly terrifying human being. It was so interesting to see what this mastermind would do. I’m not exactly sure why he started Mandrodage Meadows and I wish that would’ve been touched on. I’m still shocked by the horrors he put these people threw.

Villain Scale: 4.75

I didn’t particularly like Lyla’s best friend, Marie, at first, but as the story went on, I liked her more and more. She really was a good friend to Lyla and it was never a dull moment when they were together. I don’t really have anything to say about Marie’s intended, Brian (I think), he was there, but never really there.

Character Scale: 4.75

The psychological parts of this story were interesting, but it felt like something was slightly missing. It was never a dull moment for me while reading Gated and I look forward to more of Parker’s works. Gated is definitely a book you don’t want to miss!

Plotastic Scale: 5

Cover Thoughts: I love the cover! It’s so creepy and I’m happy that it actually fits the book.
Profile Image for Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews).
1,694 reviews873 followers
August 7, 2013
Read This Review & More Like It On Ageless Pages Reviews!

3.5 out of 5

Gated is a pretty good, fairly solid and easy to read novel. It's not your typical YA book, though it does contain some of the tropes found in that age group (love triangles, love at first sight, etc.). It's got more than its fare share of action, especially as it nears the final few chapters but Parker relies on introspection, psychological thrills, and a slow build rather than a nonstop action-packed adventure to see her story through. Lyla is caught between the home she has known for ten years and increasing evidence that not all is as it seems in Mandrodage Meadows, which add up to a intense and exciting story

Parker has a simple style, which fits both Lyla's narration and the kind of secluded life she leads in the Doomsday cult. It's easy to get caught up in the first person perspective, and the subtle hints and allusions of wrongness build up naturally as Lyla learns more about her own community. The beginning is a bit dry and slow-moving, but Parker shows enough potential that reader will be engaged enough to keep reading until it gets good. The story really hits its stride just after the halfway mark, when Lyla is exposed to life outside of the Compound and begins to truly think for herself.

Breakdown by percentage:

1% - 50% - not enough going on
50% - 90% - just enough going on
90% - 100% - too much going on

I could have done without the romances. I could have done without the love triangle between the boy Pioneer picks for her and the mysterious boy on the outside. Honestly, if the story had been solely about Lyla breaking free from the severe "us vs. them" mentality ingrained over 10 years, it would've been a tighter, more engrossing read. It also would have been far more original. All of the love stuff feels so unnecessary, and so reminiscent of other YA novels.

Pioneer is both a benefit and a detriment to how Gated's story is caarried. In the beginning, his mystery, allure, and power over the group is unexplained and unquestioned. The way he approached Lyla's family when they were weak, scared, and isolated is a perfect example of what kind of man he is - opportunistic, cunning, and without morals. He camouflages his hunger for power for years under a facade of geniality, until Lyla begins to act differently than he would wish. His break down from pillar of the community to unhinged antagonist is authentic, but could use some polish. I main issue is that the story went on, and his control started to slip, he never really became more than a one-note villain. Parker never really shows why he is the way he is, or why he created Mandrodage Meadows -- whether it was for pure control, to swindle the families, etc. I don't know what led to his creation of the cult, and that felt like an oversight.

All in all, Gated had a few flashes of brilliance, but the one-note villain, the slow start, and the insane last few chapters took away from the overall impression. The story had been building neatly over the course of the novel, but I think the ending got away from Parker. There just way too much going on, much too fast. Simplifying the climax would render the whole more believable and fit with the rest of the novel better. That said, Gated makes for a complete diversion. It's a fast-reading, engaging story unlike most other YA novels out there.
Profile Image for Ally.
303 reviews34 followers
September 16, 2013
This is one of those books that will make you uncomfortable from start to finish. In a good way.

Meet Lyla, a 17-year old girl living in a secluded 'Community' in the present day United States. Lyla is one of the most unique YA characters that I've met to date. Slut-shaming? Nope. Mary-Sue attitude? Nope. In fact, I kind of wanted to be her friend. Lyla has been living in Mandrodage Meadows (anagram for Armageddon Meadows), a gated community led by tyhe charismatic Pioneer, since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Being inside Lyla's head was a fascinating experience. Experiencing Pioneer's indoctrination techniques from her point of view, and the way he controls what information the Community has access to provided some real insight into how real world cults operate today. If the seed of doubt hadn't been planted in Lyla's head, I don't think she would have ever questioned Pioneer's motives.

Pioneer was as charismatic as he was creepy. He inspires devotion. Characters who lived outside of the community for the better part of their lives don't question what he tells them. His techniques to keep people in line are just sadistic and disgusting. But again, no one questions him because his influence has made them subservient. It just goes to show that anyone who is a charismatic leader can obtain a certain amount of power over people, especialy those who are vulnerable.

But it was really the atmosphere that made this book such a great read. I felt like I was on the edge of a cliff throughout the entire novel. The creepiest part was that I wasn't sure if Pioneer was telling the truth or not. Granted, some things were pretty obvious, like when he told the community that 3 very well known natural disasters had occurred within a week, but there was still this uncomfortable feeling that the apocalypse just might be coming.

My shock after reading this book had me giving it a 5-star rating, but now that I'm thinking about it a bit more, I'm dropping it to 4 stars. The reason is because I felt like some aspects of the story weren't tied up for my liking, especially surrounding Pioneer. I would have liked to have known more about his life and the psychology behind his belief in the Brethren. It would have really added more depth to the story, and also, I think, helped the characters move on and possibly overcome some aspects of their indoctrination.

Overall, an uncomfortable, creepy read with a realistic spin. I'll definitely be reading other books by this author.
Profile Image for Kristen.
436 reviews543 followers
July 6, 2013
Read this review and others on my blog My Friends Are Fiction

I haven't assigned a star rating to this title because I don't feel that I can do so.

Electronic copy was given in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts:
I have never read anything about how life would be living in a cult. I thought the book description was intriguing; especially adding in the fear of end times. I couldn't help but think that reading about Lyla and her experiences would be entrancing and interesting in a psychological way. I wasn't wrong- this was an incredibly interesting read though I did not overly enjoy the experience. This had nothing to do with the story telling or writing; it all had to do with my dislike of the subject matter.

I found Gated highly disturbing and at times frustrating. I had a very difficult time getting into the head space of Lyla's parents. Their attitudes really frustrated me and I found it impossible to like them though I did empathize with them. Lyla was relatable enough and I thought she was well rounded but it wasn't enough to make the reading of Gated pleasant for me personally. Let this be a warning there was violence towards animals which I found really upsetting even though the descriptions were not graphic.

Parker included quotes from cult leaders (real and Pioneer's) at the beginning of every chapter which really created authenticity to her story. She mastered giving her reader what felt like a real glimpse into how life would be when raised in this type of environment. The pacing is slow for the majority of the book though you can feel the tension build with every page turn.

Don't be mistaken...this is not a negative review. I think this book was done very well and that a lot of people will find Gated interesting and engaging. I misjudged myself in thinking that this book would be for me.
Profile Image for Steffi.
2,897 reviews163 followers
March 21, 2015

Wie vermutlich einige andere bin ich davon ausgegangen, dass es sich bei diesem Buch um eine bevorstehende Apokalypse/Dystopie handelt. Nun, das ist es nicht, aber dennoch fand ich das Thema des Buches sehr interessant, da es noch nicht sehr viel in dieser Richtung gibt.

Ich habe nach den ersten Seiten schnell vermutet, was hier los ist und daher fand ich den Handlungsverlauf lange Zeit eher zäh. Es war nicht unbedingt langweilig, dafür war der Lesefluss zu schnell, aber es einfach nicht so wirklich viel passiert.
Es war auch von Beginn an klar wie sich die Handlung weiter entwickeln wird, so dass es leider kaum Überraschungen gab.
Die Charaktere waren ebenfalls nicht sonderlich herausragend. Ebenso wie bei der Handlung fehlte hier der Tiefgang.

Das Buch hat mir dennoch ein kurzweiliges Lesevergnügen beschert.
Profile Image for Evie.
706 reviews923 followers
June 15, 2013
An interesting story with an intense ending, though I must admit, I would've probably enjoy it more if the first half wasn't so slow and uneventful. Nevertheless, this was quite a captivating read!
Profile Image for Andrea.
974 reviews11 followers
September 12, 2013
Did Not Finish
The concept of the Pioneer is not a new one. I believe that same exact name was in The Host. I wish people could come up with more original ideas. I also didn’t like to learn that there was a society that saved a certain kind of people, while others were left to die. That too was like The Host. And everyone else would be killed by tsunamis and earthquakes and other natural disasters, for a reason that was not made clear. How can the Brethren be saved from this and others not? Anyways, I just don’t go for the whole end of the world drama. I don’t know how many books I’ve read, the Matched trilogy to name one, where others pick spouses for everyone. In here Pioneer chooses Lyla’s Intended, (real clever there). I’m so sick of that concept it’s not even funny. This is just another book with the same storyline and they all just eventually blur together because no one can come up with their own material.

When Lyla said she never touched Will first and he always initiated their touches, I knew exactly where it was headed because it’s been done a million and one times. A new guy will be introduced and she’ll get with him, leaving her intended alone, or with someone I don’t like. That was apparent when a car arrives and there’s a handsome boy in the back. She takes him on a tour of Mandrodage Meadows (and really? Twisting around letters to change up a word? At least in Harry Potter Voldemort was actually pronounceable) and Cody makes a comment that people think they’re hiding dead bodies and child brides. She gets all defensive and completely misses the joke, and he says he was just trying to be funny. And she grumbles “well you weren’t.” Great, an uptight, mean stick in the mud without a sense of humor. She takes him to the horse stalls and he’s scared of horses, and she has to work at keeping her face straight so she doesn’t smile or laugh. Oh great, she’s a mean, compassionless b***** who gets off by laughing at other people’s fears. Do authors think we like characters who act like this? Do they realize we want nice characters?
She’s shaking her head, unable to process it, and his fear makes her feel better, less nervous. She also grins, thinking “wait till I tell Marie about this.” I already don’t like her.

When the earth’s rotation reverses people will die, whatever that means. That’s absolutely the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. It was extremely weird and mysterious how they knew the world was going to end. And they had a silo for everyone to go in, which reminded me of the hideout in the Host. But anyways, nothing was explained. The author just kept dropping out things, weird rules, things about the end of the world, humans dying, pure people chosen by the Brethren, but didn’t go into detail on how any of that would happen. It was making me really mad, because over 50 pages had passed, and I couldn’t make heads or tails out of how any of this could come to be. If you set up this type of world, you have to define all the rules pretty soon so you don’t completely lose your audience.

The writing is very, very simple. It’s like reading a book for middle schoolers, so it’s pretty insulting to my intelligence. It’s clear that I’m way too old for this book. Also, most of the pages are filled with her thoughts, feelings, and perceptions of what’s going on. Page after page are full of long paragraphs with no dialogue. That is the most annoying thing to read.

She finally gives more information, and it’s like a Noah and the Ark story. Pioneer is the one offering salvation, and those that don’t choose to follow him are going to get killed by all manner of natural disasters. He receives visions from the Brethren, and there’s some crap about aliens. I only got further turned off by the story, and just to quit to save myself a lot of grief. This is a stupid story with stupid ideas that’s simply written and the characters were driving me crazy. Marie, who at the beginning hated being paired with Brian, but only started liking him when he turned hot. Marie who cries, squalls, and bawls hysterically like a little baby, doing absolutely nothing to help when she thinks they’re locked out of the silo. Lyla who sucks as a main character and wants to be dutiful to a guy who clearly has a God complex. Pioneer who is crazy yet no one realizes it. He performs cruel and unusual forms of punishment, yet everyone blindly continues to follow him, not questioning anything. And the parents. Parents who push their kids to go get punished severely by someone who is not related to them, and don’t do a dang thing to stop it. And her mom rubbing those godforsaken shoes. Your other daughter is gone, get the freak over it and quit rubbing your hands all over the freakin shoes. That’s weird.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for AnnaSalvatore.
270 reviews4 followers
January 4, 2016

- German review -

Durch eine begeisterte Rezension bin über dieses Buch gestolpert. Da wir im Fach Religion gerade über Sekten geredet hatten, und mich das Thema interessierte, habe ich es nun auch gelesen - Und zwar an einem einzigen Tag.

Gefällt mir sehr gut.
Das Cover wirkt bedrohlich und leicht verzweifelt, und spiegelt irgendwie die Geschichte wieder - Wie das Mädchen alleine versucht, das Licht zu erreichen.

Dies war mein erstes Buch, das ich je las, welches sich mit Sekten auseinander setzt.
Und dies ist der Autorin äußerst gut gelungen.
Ich glaube geeigneter als mit diesem Roman kann man dieses Thema dem modernen Menschen nicht näher bringen.
Aus der Sicht von Lyla, einem normalen Mädchen, erleben wir den Alltag in einer Glaubensgemeinschaft, welche von dem Pioneer angeführt wird.

Der feste Glaube dieser Gemeinde ist, dass sie von "den Brüdern" auserwählt worden sind, den Weltuntergang zu überleben. Alle anderen Menschen, die in der modernen Welt leben, sind innerlich böse und nicht "rein".
Die Gemeinde Mandrodage (Anagramm für Armageddon) Meadows umfasst 20 Familien sowie den Pioneer. Sie leben in einem ummauerten Dorf in der Prärie. So viel wie möglich bauen sie selbst an, haben Nutztiere und Gärten, aber leben auch mit Strom.
Und mitten drin Lyla mit ihren Eltern.

Als ich es las, habe ich mich zu Beginn die ganze Zeit gefragt, wie man nur so blind sein Leben einem ominösen Mann anvertrauen kann, nur auf ihn hört, alles glaubt und tut was er sagt.
Aber man versteht es irgendwie. Ich selbst kann es schwer beschreiben, aber der Pioneer ist charismatisch, obwohl er kein Schönling ist. Er prägt die Leute irgendwie auf sich, sie hören ihm zu.

Nun ja, auf jeden Fall ist die Geschichte richtig spannend, wird zum Teil immer mehr zum Thriller.
Irgendwann, auch beeinflusst durch Cody, merkt Lyla, was für ein Mensch der Pioneer wirklich ist.

Ich dachte, das Böse lebe außerhalb unserer Mauern. Ich habe mich geirrt.
Zitat Lyla, Seite 322

Die Geschichte nimmt dann auch wirklich richtig Fahrt auf und hat mich mitgerissen.
Diese Liebesgeschichte zwischen Lyla und Cody ist übrigens richtig süß, unscheinbar und "normal", nicht so eine Romeo & Julia-Liebe.

Der Showdown ... wow. Ich habe richtig mitgefiebert, weil es SO spannend wurde!!!
Teilweise artete dies schon in leichte Schnappatmung aus :D
Theoretisch hätte dies ein Einzelband bleiben können, also bin ich schon sehr gespannt, was im 2. Teil, den ich 100%ig lesen werde, auf mich zukommen wird.

Geschrieben ist die Geschichte aus der Ich-Perspektive von Lyla. Zu Beginn gab es abwechselnd noch kurze Kapitel aus der Vergangenheit, und ca. ab der Mitte nur noch aus der Gegenwart.
Diese kurzen Kapitel haben viel erklärt, warum Lylas Familie sich dem Pioneer anschloss, und bedeutsame Ereignisse näher betrachtet.
Der Stil an sich ist wirklich angenehm und flüssig zu lesen, ich konnte mich sehr gut in Lyla hineinversetzen, ihre Gedanken und Gefühle nachvollziehen, obwohl manches so unnachvollziehbar erscheint.
Was ich auch total super fand, sind die Zitate über jedem neuen Kapitel. Sie stammten entweder vom Pioneer, aus der Bibel oder von anderen, echten Sekten-Anführern.
Die Zitate verstärkten noch dieses beängstigende, beklemmende Gefühl der Geschichte.

Beängstigend realistisch. Eine Geschichte wie sie jedem von uns passieren könnte, was sie um so beklemmender macht.
Definitiv ein Highlight-Buch, welches ich so schnell nicht vergessen werde.

- 5 von 5 Feenfaltern -
376 reviews352 followers
July 29, 2013
This review and others are posted at Inspiring Insomnia.

I've always been fascinated by cults, primarily because I can't understand what could possibly drive someone to seek some kind of purpose within such a group. I suppose there are as many reasons to join a cult as there are cult members in the world. In Gated, a family is drawn into a cult led by a named Pioneer shortly after they suffer the disappearance of one of their daughters. Pioneer preys on their grief and terror, gaining their trust by demonstrating his willingness to help the family while the local police (and the rest of the country) were consumed with the after-effects of 9-11.

Lyla is the narrator of Gated and the remaining child in her family. Her induction into the cult as a child ensures that she views the outside world with hostility and mistrust. She manages to form solid relationships with other members her age, including Will, the boy who Pioneer declared Lyla will marry. (Side note: unlike many real-life cults, there is no sexual abuse in Gated, although there are several instances of physical abuse.)

Pioneer informs his followers of a fast-approaching apocalypse of which only he is aware. Lyla's father views the outside enemy in a relatively practical sense: only the community has knowledge of and is prepared for the coming apocalypse, so, logically, the rest of the world is going to converge on the community to steal their resources. They must be prepared to kill to ensure that the community survives. Her mother, on the other hand, has a more straight-forward reason for wanting to kill; everyone outside their tiny community is evil and deserves to die.

Hating outsiders, however, does not mean that they can always be avoided. Pioneer and his followers occasionally need resources from the outside world, and on one of these outings, Lyla encounters Cody, the sheriff's son who previously paid a visit to the community along with his father. Despite her wariness, Lyla connects with Cody and he challenges her to question her long-held beliefs.

Even though I knew Pioneer had to be either a scam artist or completely loony tunes, I felt my own heart racing near the end of the book, as the build-up to the clash between the community and the outsiders finally occurs. There were so many exciting moments, and I never knew in which direction Parker would take the story.

It's terrifying to think of cult-leaders like Pioneer that we already know existed (Jim Jones, Marshall Applewhite, Charles Manson, David Koresh, etc.), but Gated left me wondering how many of these cults exist hidden in the shadows. I think it also shows the ease with which vulnerable people can be seduced by someone who claims to have the answer to their problems. Lyla's development through the book from unquestioning follower to someone willing to challenge those around her seemed believable. All she needed was someone on the outside to give a little push, and the walls of her little compound began to crumble.

Note: I received and ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Moe.
182 reviews5 followers
August 25, 2015
Ursprünglich war dieses Buch ein absoluter Coverkauf. Die Farben haben mich fasziniert und auch das Motiv an sich. Ganz schön creepy, diese gesichtslose Frau, vor allem, wenn sich herausstellt, dass es fast perfekt zur Geschichte passt. Wenn dann auch noch der Klappentext irgendwie interessant klingt, kann mich nichts mehr halten. Manchmal passiert das, muss ich ganz ehrlich gestehen. Was mich erwarten wird, wusste ich trotzdem nicht wirklich. Es klang zunächst erst mal nach Dystopie oder Apokalypse. Bevor ich meine englische Ausgabe dann tatsächlich gelesen habe, erschien auch die deutsche Übersetzung (und auch die vom zweiten Teil *hust*) mit dem Untertitel “Die letzten 12 Tage”, was den Eindruck der Apokalypsengeschichte nur verstärkt hat. Ein bisschen davon ist in der Geschichte auch vorhanden, doch eigentlich geht es um die Community, eine Gruppe von Familien, die auf einem abgelegenen, riesigen und abgeschotteten Grundstück wohnen und sich fast komplett selbst versorgen. Sie bereiten sich auf das Ende der Welt vor, das ihr Anführer Pioneer vorausgesagt hat. Für diese Art der Gemeinschaft fällt mir nur ein Begriff ein: Sekte. Obwohl sie selbst das natürlich abstreiten würden und sowieso alle Leute, die sie so nennen, abgrundtief böse sind.

Gated beginnt zu einer Zeit, da die Familien schon zehn Jahre in dieser Community leben, und begleitet den Alltag der jungen Frau Lyla. Es beginnt gleich mit einer ziemlich skurrilen Szene: Eine Gruppe von Jugendlichen übt den Umgang mit Gewehren, indem sie auf Holzpuppen schießen, und sollen auf Anweisung von Pioneer (zu Deutsch übrigens “Vorreiter”, “Bahnbrecher” und natürlich ist das ein selbst gewählter Name) gezielt Herz oder Kopf anvisieren. Lyla sieht bei diesem Übungen allerdings echte Menschen vor ihrem inneren Auge und bringt es nicht über sich, diese — wenn auch nur symbolisch — zu töten. Denn genau das ist natürlich auch das Ziel dieser Übung: Die Familien sollen desensibilisiert werden, damit sie sich im Falle eines Angriffs verteidigen können. Auf ihrem Gelände gibt es nämlich nicht nur die Häuser, Felder und Ställe, sondern auch ein Silo, in das sie kurz vor dem Ende der Welt einziehen können. Und da nur diese Familien die Auserwählten sind, wie Pioneer in seinen zahlreichen Visionen erfahren hat, muss dieses Silo mit allen Mitteln gegen die bösen Menschen von draußen verteidigt werden.

Weiter lesen auf dem Blog: https://piranhapudel.de/gated-amy-chr...
Profile Image for Debbie.
295 reviews128 followers
July 26, 2013

I was honestly expecting a lot more from this. Maybe it's because I've watched and read a lot of articles and documentaries about cults and religious groups that I was expecting a lot more. Especially from Lyla, I was hoping that over time, her character would change, not already be changing. Amy Christine Parker does a fine job pushing the limits, showing readers what the inside of a cult might look like but I felt like she could have pushed it more and made it more...darker? Sinister? Sadistic? Something like that.

Getting into the book is a bit tough, everything feels very stiff and boring. I couldn't relate or feel anything for the characters nor did it grab my attention like I wanted it to. The romance in gated feels very contrived and unrealistic to me with how everything ends up, almost like a happily ever love story. It also has an insta-love type of feeling to it and I don't like insta-love at all. I wish there was more information about Pioneer and his tactics, what's wrong with him and how he became this way because he changes and there isn't enough information to leave me feeling satisfied about it.

Nonetheless, I love Pioneer's character. He's scary and well-developed, going from sweet and trusting to something else in such a short span of time. The pacing is also very well done, most of the novel didn't feel rushed or too slow and the suspense builds up to make a gruesome ending. As far as endings go, Amy Parker does bring her game and gives readers something insane to read about, it's gory, confusing, and definitely dark. I love it. I had to close the book a few times just to get a hold of myself!

Gated is not a bad book, it just falls short of my expectations around a topic so serious like this one. But I know that a lot of people will like this book because of the genre that it's in and to have an insight of how easy it is for some people to take advantage of others when they're most vulnerable and will believe just about anything.
Profile Image for Just a person .
995 reviews294 followers
September 7, 2013
Gated starts out right away by showing the main character Lyla is different. In the world of Silo, the community in this book, they are having target practice with cardboard cutouts and Lyla doesn't want to go for kill shots head or chest, but she can't even do that, she sees them as real people. She is also questioning the Brethren or who they believe are their creators and the world is about to end, and only a select few, The Chosen, in Silo will survive. Their leader, Pioneer is charismatic and you can see why people would believe and follow him. He seems so caring and concerned, and the words he uses will get right to your heart.
Her friends Will, Brian and Marie all really buy into it, and Lyla tries to because she really cares for them, and it is obvious they care about her, they just don't understand her hesitations.
I just never expected all of the twists and turns, and especially how heart heart changes and the bravery that she ultimately grows. I read this for the character development I saw in Lyla, the fiestiness beneath the surface, and the friendship between Lyla and Marie.
While there is action, it is a mostly character driven story, struggling with past losses, current shortcomings, and wrestling with what being told to them is a lie, because they are contradictory.
The world building was done really well. Mandrogage Meadows felt like a real place to me, with its society and way of life differing from my own, but I could picture it. I could sympathize with what the residences thought to be true and how they fought for their way of life. With that said, I wish that somehow we got a glimpse into Pioneer's past. I want to know what made him how he is and more of how he actually convinced them he was the real deal.
The ending took my breath away and I was on the edge of my seat watching it all play out. It was so well done and put such a blast of hope into the story and Lyla's life.

Bottom Line: Chilling book with a well developed and questioning main character.
Profile Image for Empress Reece (Hooked on Books).
915 reviews77 followers
March 30, 2016
Mandodrage Meadows.... Mandodrage Meadows is the name of the community that the "chosen" people in Gated live in but it's not just any community. Mandodrage is actually an anagram for Armageddon. Congrats to YouKneek &  Passionate About Books for guessing correctly!! : )
After 9/11, Pioneer, the leader of the community & "prophet", chose families (hence the "chosen"), to come and live in this secluded community to escape the evils of the outside world and prepare for the end of the world which his "visions" told him was very near.
This book produced so many emotions in me! If you ever followed the Waco story or read about Charles Manson's life you will see the similarities in this story. It was amazing how charismatic the leader, Pioneer, was. He had me almost believing in him. LoL The author does such a great job of showing you how these leaders and "prophets" think and act and she really makes you sympathize with the families that have chosen this way of life. I don't believe in it myself but I think have a better understanding of how these people become members of these cults (a term which they do not like) and fall under the spell of these leaders and "prophets." It was just a very eye opening and moving story. A lot of the kids that were in this community, grew up within it, so they have no knowledge of the outside world. They've never even had fountain drinks or seen a tablet, like an Ipad before! It was just an amazing glimpse into this world. A definite-must read!
If you like audio books, I would recommend listening to the audio version to get the full experience because the narrator is also fantastic!
Profile Image for Lori.
Author 12 books1,309 followers
July 9, 2017
The premise alone gives me the creeps. I've never read anything about these types of cults before so I was apprehensive at first.

I needn't have worried. I loved it. I blew through the book, and my anxiety levels skyrocketed when the climax hit. There's a slow build up, which is nice because it lets you become familiar with the characters, their history, and how their community came to be. This is all important information to truly understand these characters and their choices.

Pioneer is one of the most genuinely disturbing characters I've come across because he's so real. I'm sort of terrified of him and yet, at the same time, I understand his appeal to the people in the community and why it would be so easy to trust him.

I really liked Lyla. She's quiet and contemplative. Her strength isn't in how much butt she can kick. But questioning the beliefs that she's practically been indoctrinated with took extraordinary courage, and it's wonderful to see the person she becomes at the end, even with all her fears and doubts.

I definitely recommend you pick this one up!
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,220 reviews1,651 followers
February 11, 2014
Seriously, why the fuck does this have a sequel? Ugh. THIS WAS FINE AS A STANDALONE.

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.

Read the full review at A Reader of Fictions.
Profile Image for Michelle Krys.
Author 7 books622 followers
January 20, 2014
I've always been fascinated by cults, and the concept of a novel told from the perspective of a young cult member made me embarrassingly excited to read this book. Thankfully GATED didn't just live up to my high expectations--it completely blew them out of the water. GATED is a breathtaking, thrill-ride of a debut: smart, reassured, exciting, and romantic.
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