I'm fascinated by the lure of doomsday cults so when I first read the premise of Gated, I knew it was a YA novel I needed to check out. Not only did I check it out, I loved it, and we chose Gated for our August spotlight pick. But what about the author, Amy Christine Parker? Why choose to tell the story of a young women trapped in community that believes the End of Days is just around the corner? In this exclusive essay, Parker fills us in on the attraction of the Apocalypse.
We survived the Apocalypse. Again. December 21, 2012 was merely a good excuse for an epic party. Less than a year later it’s just a factoid for Wikipedia, much like the Y2K scare before it. But despite this, people’s fascination with the end of the world hasn’t faded. The apocalypse is still everywhere: on our TVs in the form of heavily armed Doomsday Preppers and hurtling into movies theatres with World War Z. Walmart still sells bug-out bags. Zombie survival runs are cropping up everywhere. Why can’t we seem to get enough of all things doom and gloom?
The easiest answer? It’s fun. Even if we aren’t actively collecting canned goods, it’s entertaining to watch those who do. Running from fake zombie hoards or pretending to be them beats hoofing it on a treadmill. For most of us, the impending doom isn’t impending. It’s a hypothetical that we jokingly discuss. The fact that some apocalyptic scenarios (pandemics, nuclear war) are possible merely ups the thrill.
A possible apocalypse can make our lives seem more meaningful. No, we don’t really want the world to end, but does some part of us revel in the idea that we might face the kind of daunting circumstances found only in novels? Maybe. Is there any antagonist more daunting than an end of the world event? Real life is usually more of a death match between our bills and incomes and while a stack of past due notices is certainly terrifying, it lacks the visual presence of a four story tsunami headed straight for us. If we overcome the end of the world we morph from everyman to bad ass.
And maybe we need to feel like heroes now and then. A far flung “someday” threat we’re confident we could overcome takes our minds off of the more imminent threats we can’t. In the face of the Boston bombings, the Newton school shooting, or Super Storm Sandy, life feels precarious. We can control a bunker sized world. What we can’t do is predict where the next shooter will strike, who the next bomber will be, or when Mother Nature throws us another wicked curveball. Our attraction to the apocalypse becomes less about the actual event itself and more about our way of coping with the dangers of the world at large.---Amy Christine Parker