Author: Amy Christine Parker
Narrator: Alicyn Packard
Release date: August 6th 2013
Publisher: Listening Library
Lenght: 10 hrs and 19 min, Unabridged
In the Community, life seems perfect. Lyla Hamilton believes she is one of the chosen. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Pioneer invited her family to join the Community and escape the evil in the world. They've thrived under his strict, charismatic leadership. Now seventeen, Lyla knows certain facts are not to be questioned:Pioneer is her leader.Will is her Intended.The end of the world is near.Pioneer has visions of the imminent destruction of humanity. He says his chosen must prepare to fight off the unchosen people, who will surely seek refuge in the Silo, the underground shelter where the Community will wait out the apocalypse.Lyla loves her family and friends, but a chance encounter with an unchosen boy has her questioning Pioneer, the Community--everything. She needs time to figure out the truth. But with Pioneer's deadline for the end of days fast approaching, time is the one thing she doesn't have.
Even though, at first glance, Gated looks very much like dystopian lit, it’s actually an too-likely-for-comfort contemporary read. It happens in present day United States, and the regular society functions normally. It’s only the small group Lila lives in, a cult if you will, that lives under a very different set of rules.
Mandradage Meadows (I think that’s how it’s spelled, I’m not sure because of the audio) is a gated community, lead by the charismatic Pioneer. There lives a group of people that knows the truth about the upcoming Armageddon and wants to prepare for it. They have a silos underground and they spend their time learning how to fight, to prevent others from entering their safe haven.
Pioneer leads the community with an iron fist. He’s the one who dreamed of the end, and he’s the one in contact with the Brethren, aliens who have chosen only the people in Mandradage Meadows to survive. Everyone lives by his rules and they gladly obey because they know the alternative is dying with the rest of the world, but when someone doesn’t, for whatever reson, they face a punishment so fierce, they’re never tempted to disobey again.
Parker took her sweet time creating the Pioneer, and it shows. He is perhaps one of the most fascinating characters I’ve come across in a very long time, and I’m not saying that lightly. The intricacies of one such personality, the hundred faces of lies and deceit, are so very hard to get right, and yet Parker’s Pioneer constantly gave me the chills. To me and Lila both, he seemed a bit delusional, but kind enough at the beginning, but as the story progressed, his true colors showed more and more, until we were both terrified of what he might do next.
For her part, Alicyn Packard narrates the story skillfully and beautifully, so much so that I’d definitely recommend you pick this one up on audio. It’s a pretty long one, over 10 hours, but she takes you through it effortlessly, and before you even realize you’re utterly creeped out.
Less patient readers might find Gated pretty slow. There is no action to speak of, and the focus always remains on the psychological profiles of these characters: Pioneer and those who blindly follow him. The last part does pick up considerably, and the reader is faced with several surprises that are pretty hard to predict, but I’ve talked to several readers who gave up on Lila’s story much before that.
If you do decide to pick it up, keep in mind that it’s a quiet story, more a psychological thriller than anything else, and try to adjust your expectations accordingly. If you’re looking for high octane action, you most certainly won’t find it here, but I enjoyed the slow build-up and the development of these characters.