Monday, July 4, 2016
Why would seemingly normal, intelligent, educated people choose to give up their lives and join a doomsday cult? What happens to children who are raised inside these groups? These are two of the questions tackled by Amy Christine Parker's Gated.
The story is told from the point of view of Lyla, who has been living in a cult known as The Community, run by a charismatic leader called Pioneer, since she was 5 years old. Two things caused Lyla's parents to give up successful lives in New York and join the Community: first, Lyla's little sister Karen was kidnapped while playing in front of their house... then just weeks later, 9/11 happened. These two incidents combined to convince Lyla's parents that Pioneer's visions of the end of the world and the evils of mankind were real, so they packed up everything and moved in to the Community.
On the outside, the Community is just a small gated development where people live a simple, organic lifestyle, growing all their own food and rarely interacting with outsiders. But inside the community is a hidden underground silo filled to the brim with food, supplies and weapons. This silo is where Community members plan to live when according to Pioneer, the Earth's rotation will change and civilization will be destroyed, This day is only a few months away as the story begins, and Lyla is grudgingly preparing to go underground with her family and friends... until she meets a couple of outsiders, the local sheriff ans his son, who make her begin to question her lifestyle and raise questions about pioneer that no one has been willing to ask before.
I found the book much more enjoyable than I expected to. I normally don't read much modern realistic fiction so this was a new experiment for me. It was interesting to experience the life of a cult from someone who lived in it from their early childhood, and had known basically no other life than the Community and its bizarre belief system. My only major gripe is that in this case, the ending of the book makes the story feel very much finished, but of COURSE there is a sequel, because these days everything has to have a darn sequel. I won't be reading it, because as far as I am concerned, this story is done.
Final rating: 4/5 bookmarks.