First Impression: Behind the Gates, at surface level, seemed like a different take for a Middle Grade read. I don't normally read heavily in the Middle Grade area, but something about this book called to me. However, even with my dystopian radar going strong, I didn't pick up that this was suppose to be a dystopian tale until about the end of the first chapter. While Reading: In the not so distant future, the United States is a war with the Alliance. A mysterious group that wants to take over control of the world for purposes that are quite unclear. During this unsettling time, parents are often forced to send their children away to schools for their education while also protecting them from the hostile war. Behind the Gates sucked me into its pages almost immediately. A mother and father's heartfelt goodbye to their only child. A quick note or two about the world. And readers are off to follow Louisa and her best friend Maddy as they begin on their new adventure in the unknown. As I said, my dystopian radar was completely off on this one. The world, at least outside of the school environment, is explored within about the first two chapters. A brief paragraph or two and then the story moves along. All things brought into consideration, I would really be hard pressed to classify this as a dystopian... maybe dystopian-lite? I am, however, very hopeful that the lack of world building was due to the reader being allowed only to know as much as our main character does rather than Grey not exploring it as she could have. Since I haven't read any further into the series, only time will tell. But Behind the Gates certainly left me with the feeling that Gray was not done with exploring this world by a long shot. Louisa and Maddy, our main characters, were so much fun to read about. Although not blood sisters, they have the relationship (and its ensuing dramas) down pat. Add in the personalities of two other completely different roommates and things got really interesting, really quick. To top everything off, Gray throws us on heck of a curve ball with that cliffhanger. Yet, it is not an overly frustrating one. Gray neatly wraps up most of the storylines for Behind the Gates, and left me wanting more. Great start to a middle grade dystopian series. Verdict: The world aside, Behind the Gates was a fantastic read. So much so that I am dying to get my hands on the next book now! Nothing was too graphic. The characters were interesting and had their own personalities. Making me like each of them for a different reason. If you are a dystopain lover wanting to try something a little different or wanting to introduce the dystopian genre to someone, I suggest giving Behind the Gates a try.