This absorbing examination of a cult focuses on a teenage girl who begins to doubt their leader.
Lyla’s little sister was kidnapped in New York City 12 years ago, just before 9/11. Her inconsolable parents fell prey to a charismatic man calling himself Pioneer, who promised to keep them safe in the coming apocalypse thanks to knowledge received from aliens. They now live with about 20 other families in a walled-in agricultural community that hides a secret: They have dug a five-story-deep silo into the ground in which they intend to live for five years before the aliens come to rescue them. Pioneer controls his people closely, assigning the adolescents into marriages (Will is Lyla’s Intended) and insisting that everyone in the Community learn to shoot to kill, as he’s sure Outsiders will eventually attack them. Parker convincingly portrays the dynamics of a cult from the inside out, contriving events that will allow Lyla to learn the truth about Pioneer and nicely fitting Lyla’s rebellion against the Community into her natural adolescent rebellion. But if Lyla tries to warn the Community, will anyone believe her, or will she be trapped forever in the silo? Parker doesn’t pull punches, indicating a level of brutality that will appropriately disturb even as it successfully conveys Lyla’s complete entrapment in the Community.
Compelling and not that distant from real-world cults that have ended in tragedy. (Fiction. 14 & up)