by Amy Christine Parker
Released: 08.06.2013352 pages
Random House Books for Young Readers
REVIEW: Here's my general impression of Gated: mediocre writing in terms of word choice and descriptions. While a decent writer in terms of structure and plot, Parker's writing in Gated did not achieve much in terms of artistry. Here's a sample from the first page:
The sky is a perfect cloudless blue and the air is hot from the summer sun.Do you see what I mean? Just boring, first year lit & comp type of writing. I was constantly reminded of the writing style one would find in a Sweet Valley Twins book. However, in that case, we are talking about writing for a serial series, something familiar that a reader can return to the same way she (or he) will tune in for a favorite sitcom. For the subject matter in Gated, I would expect the language to be compelling; instead, it felt languid. Additionally, Sweet Valley Twins was written for middle-grade girls, while the protagonist in Gated is shortly turning 18, and I believe was marketed to the YA crowd.
This is not to say that there are not interesting aspects of Gated. In particular, the reason why Lyla's family joined the Community was a potentially intriguing look into the psychology of family grief, guilt and responsibility. Had this been fleshed out more, I think this would have added more of an emotional base to the book. Again, the rather ho-hum writing rendered many of the emotions expressed in Gated as two-dimensional and flat. This is very unfortunate as the plot was well executed.
Please bear in mind that I am saying this is boring writing for older YA readers. There is a reason that I kept thinking of an MG series when reading - the writing is very young. Middle graders or struggling readers might find this a very good book and find some excitement that I could not.