Friday, October 19, 2012

Review: Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Title: Article 5
Author: Kristen Simmons
Series: Article 5 #1
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: January 31, 2012
ISBN13: 9780765329585
Format: hardcover
Genre: YA, dystopia, post-apocalyptic, action
Source: borrowed from library
New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights have been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police - instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior - instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to rememberr that things weren't always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it's hard for her to forget that people weren't always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It's hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.

Ember has perfected the are of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random house inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.

That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings - the only boy Ember has ever loved.


Article 5 is about Ember, a teenage girl, who does everything to live under the radar with her single mother so they wouldn't get picked up by the government. Unfortunately, her mother gets singled out during an overhaul (a through inspection that the government does to find people who violates the Moral Statutes) and is arrested for violating Article 5, having an illegitimate child out of wedlock. Because Ember argues and fights against the officers, one of which is Chase, she's taken away to a female juvenile detention centre of sorts. There, her only goal is to find her basically helpless mother.

The plot, though a bit tiring, progressed very well and straightforward so I never got lost. I thought that it was a bit too focused on Ember's thoughts and probably could do with more of the actual action part. Even so, I did find that the story was based around action. One thing about dystopia is that now the genre has become so big that it's difficult to find a truly different storyline. While this one wasn't shabby, I think that the story itself could improve a bit.

The setting I find was okay. It wasn't rushed, and I knew clearly where I was, but only in the geographical sense. I wouldn't be able to tell you whether or not the road was dry and cracked, or if it had dust puffing up behind Ember's steps. But since the story was based around action, I guess the story's focal was getting it going instead of deep soulful descriptions of the world around them. Nevertheless, I really would love a description of the environment because I love getting suckered into the story with those descriptions.

Ember is no doubt a strong heroine, though I had doubts at some times. She would be the caretaker for her carefree mother who just can't seem to be able to resist breaking the rules. She's supposed to be the one wary in the world and cautious of things around her, yet she's quite clueless and sheltered from many things in her world. Another point against her was her whining and spur-of-the-moment decisions. I mean, Chase is willing to help you, yet you chose to trust some lady who turns out to be a nutcase? It's obviously not going to turn out good. Still, I have to admire her persistence. No matter what comes her way, she always puts her mother first and relentlessly does whatever in her power to release her mother.

Chase is overall a good guy. Very predictable story there. Boy loves girl. Girl loves boy. Boy leaves for army. Girl devastated and betrayed. They meet back again in some very unfortunate circumstances that would tear them further apart. The two then gets thrown together and there's the spark. While I love how Chase wouldn't be added to my list of "Male counterparts that are jerks," I find that I don't know a lot about him enough to get all "OMG, TEAM CHASE!"

One other notable character is Ember's mother. She's the type of person who'd have the motto "Life for the moment" and in my opinion, is not very responsible. Nevertheless, I think that she may have been my favourite character although she didn't appear in many of the pages. What I admire about her is her heart. She's the kind of person who forgives, no matter what. After the arrest when Chase went to see her, she didn't scowl and back away. She basically welcomed him in a way that startled Chase a bit, because of her kindness. In the story, it mentioned something about Ember having to drive off one of her previous abusive boyfriends. Ember's mother, at first, was upset because she loved the man, but forgives her eventually. While I find that her being upset at Ember for driving the abusive guy away a teensy bit unneeded, I felt really touched for some twisted reason. It was the kind of love that victims of domestic abuse hold to their spouses, and the way that she forgives her abusers felt . . . so kind in a way that the world of Article 5 does not allow.

In conclusion, while I thought Article 5 was a very enjoyable story, it doesn't rank among my favourite dystopias. It's certainly entertaining, but I would say this is only a casual dystopia.

Legend by Marie Lu
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