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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*Gated* by Amy Christine Parker- young adult book review  
by Amy Christine Parker
Grades 7+ 240 pages Ember September 2013 Paperback    

Gated is a fast-paced page-turner about a teenager caught up in an apocalyptic cult who begins to question her and her family’s blind allegiance to the enigmatic leader.

Lyla Hamilton is a lovely girl if a bit lacking in confidence, but her circumstances seem ripe for the powerful and charismatic Pioneer, the leader of The Community, a reclusive group living off the grid in anticipation of the end of the world. Pioneer preys on the weak and the despairing, and when Lyla’s family experiences the tragic loss of her sister to a brutal criminal act, they become one of his first “families” in his vision for salvation.

Lyla and her mother and father move to a place called Mandrodage Meadows where, along with about twenty other chosen families, they exist under the strict control of Pioneer, their secretive leader. He governs who will marry, punishes them brutally for breaking Community rules, and watches over them from the outside world, where he claims evil exists. Meanwhile, the families prepare for life in an underground silo when the Day of Judgment comes, and according to Pioneer, it is coming soon.

Things take a turn for the worse when Lyla meets a boy named Cody, an outsider and the son of the local sheriff, who is suspicious of Pioneer and the cult-like Community. As they get closer to the end days, Pioneer’s perfect veneer begins to lose its shine, and the outside world threatens to turn the safe world of the Community upside-down.

The end result is nothing short of brutal and devastating in this thrilling and often nerve-wracking story that gets under your skin with its disturbing portrayal of how easily one person can lead others into tragedy, even death, all because of a longing to be chosen and to be safe. That safety becomes more dangerous than anything the outside world can hold, as Lyla learns that the evil she and the others most fear might be closer than they ever imagined.

This is author Parker’s debut novel and is absolutely stunning, filled with emotion and action that ploughs full-bore towards a powerful climax. Though it’s billed as Young Adult reading, its adult-level writing and storytelling are made even more chilling by the use of actual quotes by cult leaders such as David Koresh and Jim Jones as chapter headers. You think reading Gated that no sane person would ever join a cult, but by the time you close the covers of this book, you’ll see how easy it is to want so badly to believe, to be chosen, to be special and to be saved. Anyone can fall prey to the Pioneers of the world.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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