Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
Author: Kristen Simmons
Publication Date: January 31, 2012
Publisher: Tor Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian, Romance
Source: Borrowed from Library
New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.
The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.
There are no more police-instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behaviour-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 remember 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 art 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 home 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 Statues. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings-the only boy Ember has ever loved.
The hype around Article 5 was huge, it was riding the dystopian fame wave and at the time it was on top. After reading the synopsis I was curious as to what these Articles specifically entailed. I searched every bookstore near me, and even in other cities while on vacation and when I couldn’t find it, it just made me more fervent to get my hands on it— this should have been my first clue. This was fate telling me I shouldn’t buy it. I was about to give up my search and purchase it online when my local library got a copy and I thought “wow just my luck!”. I am so glad I ended up borrowing it…
The cover itself is pretty dramatic with the ruins of a city in monochrome and the now signature plaid shirt being the only colour present. As you can probably guess it’s Ember and Chase on the cover.
I’ll try and keep this as spoiler free as possible and you can decide if you really want to keep going.
So America as we know it has ended… somehow - we never really find out, but since the story is primarily told from Ember’s point of view I figure we’re not told because maybe she doesn’t actually know. I assume the reasons why will be revealed later in the series (hopefully). But basically, citizens are very religiously controlled, and are run on the ideas that primarily women are back to being less than men, we’re baby making factories in marriage only and are allowably beat into submission while men are expected to do the “manly” things like join the military. It’s all very Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaids Tale”.
The book starts out with Ember narrating the motions of her army controlled life and how she “keeps” her disobeying mother from getting them arrested — honestly though I felt like Ember did very little in the way of keeping them alive. I really figured she’d have some serious street smarts and survival skills what with being a post apocalyptic war survivor, but no— she only knows “how to get the things she needs” because the military tells them when and where they can get them (go figure right?!). Her supposed “perfected the art of keeping a low profile”, please, all she does is shut her mouth and do as she’s told by the military, which makes her very ignorant about the situations and people around her. Altogether, it produces a very predictable and infuriating plot as you watch Ember struggle through this dystopian world.
Now, I’m just going to put this out here, because I’m sure you guessed what happens when girl meets previous boy love - they run off together into the wasteland of America to survive and look for her mom.
Ember’s character…Oh boy where do I start. I wanted to smack some sense into her 90% of the time, I’ve never hated a character so much before. If she wasn’t whining or hating on Chase for joining the military/carrying weapons/making the tough decisions that allow them to survive, she was reminiscing about friends we never see again, or how she “protected” her mom, all while making THE WORST life related decisions ever! She does things that NO ONE would do when someone’s trying to save your life and especially when you have no outdoors experience or supplies (*face palm X 100*). She’s so narrow minded, she only sees what she believes to be the right decisions and has a tough time empathizing with anyone else’s reasons, basically it’s her way or no way. However, there is a teeny spot near the end where she sort of redeems herself with an extremely well executed plan.
Chase. He has the patience of a freaking saint to deal with Ember. He’s an incredibly well crafted character, and basically the idol for deadly hot looking soldier with the smarts and the skills for a post apocalyptic world. I honestly am not quite sure what he loves so much in Ember? Maybe her super morality and blood hound like determination once she finds some goal to latch onto. But while juggling Ember’s mood swings, his plans, and on top of everything PROTECTING them while suffering with internal post traumatic stress he manages to stay functional. I really loved his character, probably because he was the only rational thing I could cling onto as a reader trying to tread through. While Ember has a dilemma with everything Chase does, I couldn’t find a fault in any decision he made because the rules of survival are so much different in a broken world, and Ember really needed to get that into her head.
I’m not entirely sure if it was the author’s intent to make Ember so irritating, with Chase as the counterbalance, but if it was she was highly successful at it, maybe a bit too successful where Ember was concerned. The romance in this book was really awkward and tense, all I really got from it was (in my own paraphrasing): Ember: I want you, but I don’t even know you any more!! and Chase: You think I’d go AWOL for YOU if I didn’t LOVE you?!, pretty much summed it up for me.
I have to admit the enemies in this book were well executed, you weren’t quite sure of their intentions until it was too late. There were also some great action sequences and crushing revelations. But there was a moment, about halfway into the book where an event occurred that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I won’t tell you what it is, but as a kid who grew up in a farming community, camped, and common sense in general of what to do with edible animals when it’s post apocalypse and you’re starving, I had to stop and take some deep calming breaths.
Near the end, Ember finally grows up a bit, has some realizations and it’s like a weight lifted off your chest because she FINALLY gets it. So as long as she stays as this new person, I think I might be able to make it through a second book.
Simmons’ writing style is pretty solid and easy to follow which made getting through this book a bit more bearable for me. I know lots of people enjoyed it, and a lot of people didn’t. Overall I’m somewhere in between, but specifically, every time I think about that back breaking moment I’m on the “didn’t enjoy it” side.
Rating: 2.5/5 Tepid cups of Tea.
There were some aspects I really enjoyed, but Ember just irritated me. Borrow it first, then buy it if you really want it. I'm really hoping that the new Ember can carry over into the next one and make it amazing!