Gated by Amy Christine Parker is a high anxiety filled novel that continues to build until the very last chapter. Lyla is seventeen, and has been living in a cult called the Community, since she was 5 years old. However, to Lyla her life is ideal as she follows the words of her leader Pioneer without question. The reader can tell that she is in a dangerous situation, that is only going to get worse, but to Lyla life is normal.
Parker makes the interesting choice to use 9/11 as the reason the cult was created and why Lyla’s parents fled (in addition to a kidnapped younger sister). 9/11 proved there is a ferocious evil in this world that lurks under the surface, so it is believable that some people would seek solace and peace outside of the bustling world we currently live in. Pioneer takes advantage of his “followers” grief and uses it to manipulate them and bend them to his will. With the threat of the world coming to an end, Pioneer makes it clear that he will be their salvation.
Everything changes for Lyla when she meets Cody, a boy from a neighboring town who opens her eyes to her own world and the choices she and her parents have made. Through her interactions with Cody, Lyla is able to see that her life has been filled with lies, and Pioneer is not the savior that he claims to be. With time against her, Lyla must use all of her strength and perseverance to help save her people, before it is too late.
I have always been fascinated by cults (Heaven’s Gate, Jonestown, ect), and how people let themselves become so enthralled with an idea that they cannot see reason. Parker makes it easy to believe why these people would choose to be a part of a cult, and how a charismatic leader is able to slowly manipulate their minds until they cannot see reason any more.