HERE. This was a much more involved book, and you almost, at least at first, didn't think it was such a crazy place. In fact, the main character, Lyla, seems to really be happy there.
Now Lyla's family came to live at Mandrodage Meadows, following Pioneer, after several things happened. Lyla's sister disappeared off the sidewalk outside their brownstone in New York City. Then shortly after, the Twin Towers fell on 9/11. Of course once that happened, the search to find Lyla's sister ended. There was too much going on for the police to worry about that. Pioneer showed up at their house around that time. Saying that he'd seen their story on the news, and The Brethren had sent him a vision saying to help this family. Soon, Lyla's family, along with others had decided this world was only getting worse, and they all went to help build the community that Pioneer had said would be their way to be safe when the world ended.
From the outside it just looks maybe like an Amish community, in that they garden and have simple cabins, and keep to themselves. But they do have electricity. They aren't really religious, you see the Brethren are aliens that have told Pioneer who to choose and when the end of the world will come. And how to build a Silo under their community to go into and wait once the world ends. There are only people of a certain age, and all of the children, none are very young, at a certain point, around the age of 12 I believe, all were told who their intended spouse would be. For some, like Lyla, she was glad it was Will, her best friend, even if she didn't have "romantic" feelings about him. For her best friend Marie, her match wasn't anything special at first, in fact the kind of boy they hoped NOT to be matched with. But he grew up, and got cuter. And it all seemed like it was right. They had horses, which Lyla loved to ride hers. They only visited the nearest town like once a month, and that was to pick up things they couldn't take care of with their own farm, and to sell furniture. Like the Amish, they sold handcrafted furniture. Lyla's only problem is when they practice shooting. Lyla is fine with all of what they have to do, and she understands the people outside of the compound are evil, but shooting a person, to her that seems evil. And so when they practice, she aims for the knees. An idea she got from the Terminator movies. They are allowed movies, they show them at the clubhouse, and as you can see, they are some more modern movies. They do have books to read, and go to school as well, well school with each other. Pioneer is not happy about her not taking the shooting seriously and even comes and stands over her until she is able to shoot the wooden "people" cutouts with kill shots, the head, the chest.
One day the sheriff from the nearby town shows up and asks to speak with someone. With his son there, Lyla ends up being asked to give a tour of the compound to his son Cody. There seems to be a spark between Cody and Lyla, but she fights it. She is intended for Will, and Cody is one of the bad people, he wasn't chosen for the compound, so he must be bad, right? Then one night Will, Marie and her intended Brian, and Lyla, all sneak out of the compound. They're not trying to run away, they just want to go down to a more private area. While they're out, the alarms sound back at the compound that say it is time to go into the Silo. It's early, months early, but not knowing if it is a drill or the real thing, they run back, scared to death. When they get there, everything is empty, and the Silo door is shut and locked. The alarm has gone off, and the second rule is that once the door is shut and locked, they will not open it until the Brethren come to save them. After they have given up and begin to try to figure out what they will do next, the door opens. It seems that Pioneer knew about them sneaking out, and did this to scare them, and their families. Their families who went into the Silo without looking for them. This leads to a very harsh punishment for the four teens. Even with this punishment, they mostly seem to still believe in Pioneer. But Lyla really begins to have doubts now. She knows she might get to see Cody again when her family goes into town on the next run. And Pioneer shows them news clips of natural disasters that have begun to speed up, all in the past weeks, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis. And begins to speed up the timeline to go into the Silo.
It all begins to add up now, much quicker. Accidents and unexpected things lead to the town becoming more of an issue for them. And Lyla begins to doubt Pioneer, and wonder if what she is doing is really right, and how can all the people outside of the compound be so bad?
A great story, very in depth look at it, and how maybe the people in the cults may get swayed, without being stupid, or gullible. Definitely a good read. I could see this on a few State Readers' Award Lists in the future, like the Gateway in Missouri? Or maybe now that I'll be in Kansas, I can get them started with a high school level Readers' Award list as well.