In a terrifying future world, four girls must depend on each other if they want to survive.
Louisa is nervous about being sent away to a boarding school -- but she’s excited, too. And she has her best friend, Maddie, to keep her company. The girls have to pretend to be twin sisters, which Louisa thinks just adds to the adventure!
Country Manor School isn’t all excitement, though. Louisa isn’t sure how she feels about her new roommates: athletic but snobby Rosie and everything’s-a-conspiracy Evelyn. Even Maddie seems different away from home, quiet and worried all the time.
Still, Louisa loves CMS -- the survival skills classes, the fresh air. She doesn’t even miss not having a TV, or the internet, or any contact with home. It’s for their own safety, after all.
Or is it?
This was my first middle grade dystopian and I enjoyed it quite a lot. Eva Gray created a unique and frightening future, where no one is safe. In so many dystopian novels of late, the focus is on older teens and their experiences, but Behind the Gates focuses on four thirteen year olds. This was refreshing and made it all the more interesting. It also made me wonder- would I have been able to do the things they did at that age?
The novel opens when Louisa and her best friend Maddie are leaving to attend boarding school for "their own safety" and Maddie is pretending to be her twin sister. Soon, the girls arrive at the new school and things aren't at all what they expected. Soon, Louise, Maddie, and their two roommates (Evelyn and Rosie) are involved in a variety of adventures and learn that things may not be how they originally thought.
Of the four girls, I liked Louisa the best. While she didn't always think things through all the way and didn't realize when their situation wasn't the best, she did have a good head on her shoulders and kept the other girls upbeat. Her friendship with Maddie is tested and their room is soon divided between those who like the school (Rosie and Louisa) and those who don't trust it (Maddie and Evelyn). I liked getting to know the four girls and learning about their own backgrounds and strengths. There are a few secondary characters that are introduced, but the novel mainly focuses on those four. They go through a lot together and I am anxious to see where Eva takes them in the sequel.
The plot was quite original, even though the background wasn't always that clear, and there were some fun plot twists that kept the story moving. Since the girls were so used to depending on technology, it was intriguing to watch them get used to writing with pencils and finding food for themselves. All of the girls were very strong and determined and it was nice to watch their strength and endurance grow.
The Tomorrow Girls series is perfect for those readers not quite ready for books like The Hunger Games or Wither. It is entertaining for older readers as well, and was a very quick read for me. The ending was a huge cliffhanger, but the next books in the series are releasing a few months apart, so we don't have to wait long to become immersed in more of Louisa, Maddie, Evelyn, and Rosie's adventures. I am anxious to see what happens next.
Overall, Behind the Gates was a great and original new series by Eva Gray. It will greatly appeal to fans of middle grade adventure stories and I am eagerly anticipating the next installments in the series.
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
May 1, 2011/Scholastic/240 Pages/Middle Grade/Book One
Source: Publisher (ARC)
Other books in the series: Run for Cover (July '11), With the Enemy (September '11), and Set Me Free (November '11)