Audiobook Junkie, Sporadic book blogger, occasional master chef, soccer mom, wearer of pajamas, teller of tales, cool aunt, beloved wife, and loyal friend.
Gated is a fascinating glimpse into a cultish community whose leader has convinced them to remove themselves from a corrupt society to await the world’s inevitable end and that they are the worthy few who have been chosen to survive. This story is told from the perspective of Lyla, a teenager whose parents decided to follow the community’s strange yet charismatic leader, Pioneer, after the disappearance of their oldest daughter.
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed Gated. Even after reading so many positive reviews, I wasn’t expecting to so quickly and easily be utterly caught up in the story of this strange community. I’ve always been intrigued, as I’m sure many people are, by cults and I’ve wondered what it is about these leaders that would cause moderately intelligent people to believe in their outrageous beliefs so wholeheartedly to the point that they entrust them with the safety and well-being of their children. I think that Gated explored this extremely well. While I loathed Lyla’s parents throughout most of the book because of the ridiculous amount of control over their lives that they willingly handed to Pioneer, I was also fascinated by their refusal to even consider any idea that challenged their beliefs. Also, the way that Lyla tried to force herself to trust that her parents were right and almost force herself to defend their way of life despite her own doubts was compelling. It wasn’t hard to connect with and feel for Lyla in the difficult situation she was faced with.
The relationships between Lyla and her peers were a bit awkward and completely believable. Since Lyla seemed to struggle with so many doubts about things the others seemed to easily accept, it was difficult for her to feel fully connected to many of her peers. This may be the only time I will ever say that a love triangle worked. Of course, it wasn’t really a love triangle though, more like a young girl being pushed one way by outside forces but being pulled another by her own natural instincts and it felt entirely genuine. Even the dialog was perfect, she said some of the silliest things which was perfectly fitting for a girl who had been so very sheltered. One quote that made me actually laugh out loud was when the boy she wasn’t supposed to like gave her her first taste of Cheetos.
"He's my Cheeto - bad for me, but now that I have a taste for him, I can't leave him alone."
While Lyla was clearly the main character, Pioneer definitely kept the story interesting. I kept asking myself, is he completely cracked out of his mind or is he some sort of mad genius? Whatever he was, he definitely had that creepy cult leader factor. I thought he was downright scary and any scene that included him made my skin crawl.
I wavered between a 4-5 star rating throughout the entirety of the book but because aspects of the ending didn’t work for me, I decided to go with 4 stars. The audio narration by Alicyn Packard was excellent, providing an authentic voice to the main character and keeping me engaged in the story. I would highly recommend this audio to anyone considering reading Gated. And I would certainly recommend reading Gated. I actually considered adding this to my “Best of 2013” list, if it weren’t for those few issues I had with the ending, I would have done so.
Rating – 4 stars