::Post by Jackie Lindert::
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.
I did not know how I would feel reading a book about a cult. The topic interested me though, because I wanted to see if the author could get me to understand the thought process of those who would follow a leader like Pioneer. In that sense, this book was a success for me.
I loved that Amy Christine Parker makes you understand how somebody could put all their trust into one person to make all their life decisions, and also the types of people that such psychos prey on. Gated also does a great job at showing how connected you become with a community that has relied on each other and nobody else, and why that could make leaving the group even scarier than staying.
I really liked Lyla from the beginning. Her lukewarm feelings about her intended, Will are sad for him, but I could totally relate (not that anyone has ever arranged my relationships!). --trust me that's not a spoiler. The feelings she gets for the "outsider" are awesome. It's the forbidden fruit, and she wants a bite! Yet, she is so dedicated to her family and her community that you can literally feel her internal struggle on how to deal with all of those emotions.
My favorite thing about this book, though, was the surprisingly intense action toward the end. There is no holding back. It is brutal, scary, dramatic, and you can see it all play out like a movie in your head while reading it. My heart was pumping through the last 4th of the book. After a few choice scenes I just had no idea how it was going to turn out. It definitely wasn't predictable.
For some reason I'm not super crazy in love with this book. I hate to add that to the end here. It was a really great read, but I can't say it's one of my favorites. I think I'm starting to get a little pickier. I'm glad I read it, and I would totally be up for another cult-based book after tapping into that subject. I would recommend this book, but I it's not one I want to shove in everyone's hands and gush over. Good book. Not great, for me. Let me know how it makes you feel. I'm dying to get second opinions!