This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Susan Lobban
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks life is changed forever, so when Pioneer approaches Lyla Hamilton’s family to live in a gated neighbourhood the offer comes just at the right time. Living away from the threat of evil sounds idyllic, but when Lyla turns 17 she starts to question how perfect their existence behind the gates really is. She meets outsider Cody who opens her eyes to Pioneer’s unorthodox ideas and makes her realise that perhaps she is living on the wrong side of the gates.
We all remember the horror of the 9/11 attacks and Lyla Hamilton’s family have also endured the kidnapping of their eldest daughter, so it is highly believable that when the option of living in the safety of a gated community arises they would jump at it. As a reader, you can spot it as being a cult a mile off but to the Hamilton’s it is an escape from a terrifying reality.
Lyla has grown up in Mandrodage Meadows and as a young child adapted to the new situation well, but now she is a teenager, she is looking deeper into things than she did before. Especially when she meets Cody from the local town, she starts to dream about having a different life which does not include target practice and marrying someone chosen for her. Rather than reverting to the tried and tested formula of writing about forbidden love, the author uses Cody as a catalyst for the revelations to come and an ally for Lyla to rely on when things get out of control. Lyla is the perfect narrative to tell the story as she takes more and more risks to break free from the figurative shackles Pioneer has placed on everyone. The adults are blind to what is really going on and they don’t want to rock the boat and bring evil to their door, oblivious to the fact that they could be safer elsewhere.Gated breaks the YA dystopian romance mould that is growing old and instead provides a fresh look at something that could be happening anywhere in the world right now for all we know. That is what makes the story so chilling and once Lyla begins to chip away at Pioneer’s ‘truths’, it starts an avalanche with secrets being rapidly unearthed showing up the community for what it really is. YA fiction has changed a lot over the years and some of the best books I have read recently are not written for my age demographic, so no matter what your age, if you are looking for a thrilling edge of your seat read then break out of your reading confines and try this!