Author: Amy Christine Parker
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers, 352 pages
Publication Date: August 6, 2013
Do the gates keep the unchosen out or the chosen in?
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.
This was a unique and interesting read, although I do have mixed feelings about it. Lyla, the MC, is seventeen years old and has grown up in a small community of about twenty families, led by Pioneer. Pioneer controls everything, what they eat, the movies they watch, even who they marry (no access to the internet, tv, or newspapers). They are allowed very limited interaction with the rest of the world (they only see outside people when they go into town to get supplies and sell the furniture that they make). Basically, it's a cult, but Lyla doesn't know that. They all believe everything Pioneer tells them, which is that they are chosen, the world is ending in a couple of months, and to survive they have to live underground for five years.
The premise is fascinating, and it just makes me wonder how cult leaders actually get people to follow them. Obviously with Lyla and her friends it makes sense, because they grew up in this community. But the parents? We don't know about the others, but we do know that Lyla's parents suffered a tragedy and so it makes sense that Pioneer would be able to manipulate them into moving to the community and living this way. But still, believing his story?
Then Lyla meets Cody, an outsider and things start changing. Is Pioneer telling the truth?
Lyla is a fairly likable MC, even though she's basically been brainwashed so she is naive and such a rule follower. Her parents really frustrated me, especially her mother. Pioneer was obviously a piece of work, and the added quotes from him (and then others, like Charles Manson and Jim Jones) at the beginning of each chapter were frightening but definitely gave insight into his mind. The romance part of it was meh...Cody really seemed to be there just to provide the outsider perspective to get Lyla to start questioning everything so we don't really get to know him at all. It would have been better if his character had been fleshed out, but I understand how hard that would have been to write given how little contact Lyla had with the outside world. I felt bad for Will, her Intended. In fact, I felt bad for all of them because their entire belief system is based on a lie.
The beginning is a bit slow, but it does pick up. The end is satisfying, but some things are left a bit open. As far as I know it's a stand-alone. In sum, a good read.
Posted by: Pam