Review: Gated by Amy Christine Parker

Saturday, August 3, 2013
Title: Gated
Author: Amy Christine Parker
Genre: young adult
Series: N/A
Pages: 352
Published: August 6 2013
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 3.5/5

Do the gates keep the unchosen out or the chosen in?

In Mandrodage Meadows, life seems perfect. The members of this isolated suburban community have thrived under Pioneer, the charismatic leader who saved them from their sad, damaged lives. Lyla Hamilton and her parents are original members of the flock. They moved here following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, looking to escape the evil in the world. 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.

Like Noah before him, Pioneer has been told of the imminent destruction of humanity. He says his chosen must arm themselves to fight off the unchosen people, who will surely seek refuge in the compound's underground fortress--the Silo.

Lyla loves her family and friends, but given the choice, she prefers painting to target practice. And lately she'd rather think about a certain boy outside the compound than plan for married life in the Silo with Will. But with the end of days drawing near, she will have to pick up a gun, take a side, and let everyone know where she stands.

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 Gated's story. 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.


  1. Great review, Jessie! I'm reading this one right now and I agree about Pioneer so far. I can't wait to see where the story goes I'm so curious.:)

    1. It's an intense ride, that's for sure. There were definitely some twists I did not see coming!

  2. I can't even remember the name of the boys, but it seems that Outsider Boy had no substance whatsoever. I hardly felt like I knew anything about him. He liked music. His dad is the sheriff. End of story.
    I am happy that you liked it, overall. The ending of the book scared the living hell out of me!

    1. Cody and Will -- but I only know that because I wrote it down in my notes. When I tried to remember on my own, I couldn't. They were both so bland.

      The part with her best friend? WHAT THE HELL MAN. What. the. hell.

  3. Your percentage breakdown cracked me up -- I like that!

    1. Ha, why thank you! I thought it was a fun way to show how I felt XD

  4. Bleh. Love triangles and love at first sight. "It also would have been far more original. All of the love stuff feels so unnecessary, and so reminiscent of other YA novels." <-- It's so sad how many YA novels you can say this about.

    Shame that Pioneer doesn't get developed more fully. The description you'd put of him in the beginning was exciting - I love when a villain is unquestioned because it's shown that's how well established his power is.

    Also a shame that the pacing was so uneven. I've read a few books like that, and it's annoying when there's little to no action earlier but suddenly SO much there at the end.

    Even still, I wouldn't have heard of this one weren't it for you. And I am glad that despite its shortcomings, you found the book as a whole diverting.

    [Side note - I am really creeped out by that cover and that one very, very light eyeball.]

    1. It really is. I don't know why authors haven't caught on that love triangles almost always work against both the book and the characters themselves.

      I love me a good villain. The more complex and interesting - the better for the book. He started out with potential, but Parker never really fleshed him out enough to make him matter.

      AND YES. THAT EYEBALL IS FREAKY. It follows you around the room.


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