This sequel to the excellent Gated (2013) follows former cult member Lyla as she struggles to adjust to the outside world while fighting off the calls of her family to rejoin their doomsday sect led by charismatic and dictatorial Pioneer.
In the first book, Lyla struggled to escape the Community; now, she deals with her emotions: toward her parents, who remain enthusiastically in the cult, toward former Intended Will, and toward Cody, the sheriff’s son with whom she is starting a possible romance and with whose family she now lives. Additionally, some residents of the small town make it clear they want Lyla out. The town government decides to send all the cult children to the same high school, lumping Lyla in with them, thus causing Lyla even more grief as she attempts to distance herself from them. Pioneer, operating from jail rather like Charles Manson, manages to maintain ultimate control over the Community, with flunky Mr. Brown leading increasingly violent attempts to intimidate Lyla. Parker resorts to a couple of rather unrealistic contrivances to set up the suspense in this book: It’s hard to believe that officials would throw Lyla together with her former cult members and send the cult children back to their still-obsessed families. Nevertheless, Lyla’s psychological turmoil comes across effectively, and the suspense builds to an extremely exciting climax.
Still absorbing, if not as polished as its predecessor. (Fiction. 14-18)