Full review on - http://sarityahalomi.blogspot.com/201...
The novel started dreamily and slowly and Parker took her time to create the most vivid characters. Gated" was probably the first YA novel I've read that tackled the issue of cults in such a complex, illuminating and enthralling story. One does not read a book about cults expecting to be merely entertained. The psychology behind the evolution of a cult, why people follow this kind of leader, the process of decision making, giving up about the individual, social pressure and influence....etc. This get stronger from page 222 as the pre-chapters quotes change from Pioneer's to quotes from Jim Jones, Charles Manson and David Koresh. This novel crosses the 3 infamous cults to create a story that, though slow to start, increasingly becomes more intense as the story unfolds. There have been fanatics like Jim Jones or Marshall Applewhite (of Heaven’s Gate) who convince members of an approaching apocalypse resulting in the mass suicide of the membership. Some like David Koresh armed his members and all his followers died in a conflagration when the FBI tried to break up the compound. Other extremist leaders have advocated murder (Charles Manson) or marriage of underage girls to older men like the community lead by Warren Jeffs. Pioneer is a compilation of many of these extremist leaders.
The story is told through the17-year old Lyla's eyes .We gradually find out about her past, and how the community came to be formed after 9/11, based on fear as utterly effective tool. After her sister got kidnapped when Lyla was only 5, her mother became withdrawn, emotionally crippled by this emptiness which made her vulnerability made her the perfect target for Pioneer. The story start from their living in Mandrodage Meadows (an anagram for Armageddon Meadows), headed by Pioneer, which nobody remember his real name anymore. There are what we would call a "doomsday cult." (here the pre-chapters quotes from the bible strengthened this feeling) It is a small community of around 20 families all working together for financially support. Most of there food is self supplied and all things which brought from the outside world personally selected by Pioneer. No one has access to news or the latest movies and they gets from time to time on the main TV after careful filtration. No one talks to outsiders, no one watches the news; they have complete faith in their charismatic leader's words. Mostly, they spend their days at shooting practice or getting their underground Silo ready with enough supplies for this impending doom.
When we're introduced to Lyla, she's now a teenager in the midst of getting ready for the end of the world, which is only a few weeks away - as per Pioneer's vision from above. They had been told that they are the lucky ones, they are the chosen; they will be saved by the Brethren, like the animals on Noah's Ark, when the end of the world comes. And it is coming very, very soon. It was fascinating how he used to inveigle control over a person's mind, to win their trust, to ultimately bending their will to his. He manipulates the media to his advantage, he censors everything; music, books, nothing is allowed to be seen or viewed without his prior approval, and he uses that to devastating effect. The Indian Ocean tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of 2011...everything is molded by Pioneer to serve as further proof that the world is ending soon.
There aren't any small children in the community and every girl had intended which carefully chosen for her by pioneer. Lyla is promised to Will, her childhood best friend, whom she adores in an attached, brotherly manner. For her, Will is like a beautiful painting that never lights a spark of inspiration within her. Lyla is more interested in Cody a boy that she had been told to introduce to the settlement. Cody's attraction to Lyla is more of an interest than just love at first sight because she is so different from the girls he used to know.
Lyla's a is smart girl. She is the only one to question their situation. In this she anger every body else. She is also questioning the Brethren or who they believe are their creators and if the world is about to end, and why they only a selected so few (The Chosen, why so few will enter to the Silo - an underground shelter and will be the only ones to survive). She might be reluctant to shoot a gun, fall behind her peers in doing her share to contribute to the group, and be "tempted" more often times than not by factors of the outside world. In and above it all, she's a good person, and loyal to her family and friends. But the closer the days get to the proposed "end of the world" and the more she sees the darker side of Pioneer in his affirmations and punishments, Lyla's not so certain of anything. Her friends Will, Brian and Marie all really buy into it, and Lyla tries to because she really cares for them, and it is obvious they care about her, they just don't understand her hesitations. Meeting Cody somewhat compounds on Lyla realizing that the world around her, as framed by Pioneer, isn't everything it seems.
From this point things start to accelerate....
I most recommend the book . It is something totally different and it is very impotent to readers as from two main reasons - First it can help them to recognize "cult traps" and second about the significance of healthy doubt, not afraid to ask question, even though you will look "weird" to others.