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Astray by Amy Christine Parker: Q&A and Review!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Lyla is caught between two worlds. The isolated Community that she grew up in and the outside world that she’s navigating for the very first time. The outsiders call the Community a cult, but Pioneer miraculously survived a shooting that should have killed him. Are the faithful members right to stay true to his message? Is this just a test of faith? One thing is for sure: the Community will do anything to bring Lyla back to the fold. Trapped in a spider’s web of deception, will Lyla detect the sticky threads tightening around her before it’s too late? She’ll have to unravel the mystery of what Pioneer and the Community are truly up to if she wants to survive.
Suspenseful and chilling, Astray is Amy Christine Parker’s nerve-fraying sequel to Gated. This fast-paced psychological thriller is masterfully plotted and sure to leave goose bumps. Perfect for fans of creepy YA thrillers and contemporary fiction alike.

Goodreads Summary

This is a perfect read for a rainy day.  The author begins the novel introducing Lyla and telling the reader a little bit about what happened to her prior to this book (in Gated).  Lyla is living with the sheriff's family while transitioning to life on the outside of the compound.  I felt bad for Lyla because she had to try to get used to a new world while her old Community and Pioneer are not letting her simply leave.  I can't imagine how hard it must be to leave a cult and rid yourself of any of their mentality.  

The book contains plot twists and cover-ups. I really liked the tone of the novel; it was riveting.  The author maintains a slightly eerie sense throughout the book.  Lyla was a strong character.  I liked how she is intelligent and brave.  I felt like I knew her pretty well and hated how she was, at times, overwhelmed and sad over the Community.  I was slightly surprised, but happy at the ending.  This book is great for young adult readers.

4 Stars 

1) How did you come up with the plot and setting?
The plot was a real challenge. When I wrote GATED I knew I wanted to continue Lyla’s story, but actually sitting down to write it proved very, very hard. Pioneer couldn’t directly control things, all of his influence had to be indirect. It was daunting to try and figure out how to make him very threatening and constantly looming in Lyla’s life without him actually being physically present in it most of the time. I was also very concerned with making sure the second book was a strong story in its own right so that even if someone picked it up without having read GATED, they would still be affected strongly by Lyla’s struggles. For plot inspiration, I did more cult research, focusing pretty heavily this time on Charles Manson and his followers. Anyone who has every researched his trial will see definite similarities in Lyla’s story to the events surrounding it. The setting was easy by comparison. In GATED Lyla has just left the Community, so the natural progression for her is to now spend some time in the closest town while she acclimates to life outside the gates. I didn’t pick a real town, but rather created my own. Coming up with some of the scene locations proved to be one of the most fun parts of writing this book.
2) Did you have a say in the cover (it's beautiful!!!)?
It is gorgeous, isn’t it? I really, really love the colors and the mood of it perfectly reflects the plot. I feel as if I’ve won the cover lottery! Random House Children’s is really wonderful about including me in their design process when it comes to all of my covers by giving me the opportunity to express my thoughts about their ideas. My opinion is one of many that is considered which is how I like it. I have no design or marketing experience and so I want to have people who do actively guiding the process. This way I can let go of that bit and concentrate on writing.
3) Why did you choose to write from the point of view you did?
Both GATED and ASTRAY had to be written from Lyla’s point of view. They had to be first person present because I wanted the reader to go on the journey in an intimate way with Lyla, be in her head, seeing her world through her eyes. It wasn’t a decision at all, really. Both books’ first lines came out in her voice and that never changed.
4) What is your favorite trait in the main character and why?
I love her strength, mainly because it’s a quiet sort of strength. She isn’t out punching people every few minutes, but she also doesn’t compromise what she feels is true and is remarkably brave when it comes to defending those she cares about. I hope that this makes her feel very relatable to readers.
5) What was your favorite scene to write?
I very much enjoyed writing the hospital scene at the very beginning of the book between Pioneer and Lyla. I could see it very clearly in my head and it was one  of those scenes that came easily which is a rarity for me. In general scenes that have creepy moments are the easiest for me to write.
6) Do we have other books to look forward to from you?
Yes! I’m happy to announce that I am currently working on Smash and Grab, a stand alone novel for Random House Children’s about a teenage girl who is planning a bank heist and is caught of guard when she begins to fall for a rival thief. I like to think of it as The Bling Ring meets Out of Sight and The Town. It will come out sometime in the spring of 2016.

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ


  1. Bube said...:

    Very nice review and great Q&A!
    Thank you :)

  1. I haven't read Gated yet, but it is one that is at the top of my TBR. Especially now that Astray is out. I love that the author took so much time thinking about this second novel, and had such a fierce desire to make it stand alone without needing Gated. That makes me even more ready to read this series!

  1. Olivia Harvard said...:

    This was great! I love the interview questions and I have to agree that the cover is absolutely beautiful. I hadn't heard of this book until today, but I'm super excited to pick up a copy.

  1. Chelsea B. said...:

    Wow, the cover is stunning and the story sounds even better!

  1. lea said...:

    Nice review and thanks for this interview!