Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Article 5, by Kristen Simmons
Release date: January 31st 2012
Published by: Tor Teen
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4/5 stars
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The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.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 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 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 Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings…the only boy Ember has ever loved.
I put Article 5 on my TBR pile for many reasons, but mostly, because this dystopia sounded real and well built. I've read some pretty messed up dystopia books last year, and even though I ended up liking them, the society that the authors described just didn't make a lot of sense. What happened to the rest of the world, in The Hunger Games, for example? And how did the government make a decision in Divergent? Yes, the story was convincing, but if you think hard about it, it just doesn't make much sense.
Article 5 was not one of those books. The society (or what's left of it) was ruled by chaos; people were arrested if they read the wrong book or missed school based on their religion. And those taken away were never seen again. Humans treated like objects, like puppets, as the government turned soldiers into monsters. I love this kind of dystopia, simply because it can happen.
Humans will kill if it's a matter of survival, the army will repress rebellions violently if that's the only choice, and the world will sucumb if a war explodes. Those are just a few prospects that Kristen Simmons explored in Article 5, and they were so convincing that it left me thinking: If the diplomacy fails, will this be our destiny one day?
Living on this wrecked world is Ember, a seventeen-year-old girl that struggles to stay under the radar. Standing up to your superiors is not a option anymore, and she knows it. Her mother, though, is rebellious, and Ember does what she can to open her mother's eyes. All this effort goes to waste, however, when her mom is arrested by a bunch of soldiers claiming that they had broken one of the rules.
Being arrested is not the worst thing that Ember went through. One of the soldiers was Chase, the boy she loved, and he seemed so changed, like a machine had replaced his heart. Ember was taken to a reformatory, and her life turns into a living hell from that day on. Not knowing where her mother was, or what was being done to her, was torture, but wondering what had happened to Chase was worse.
Ember was a good main character, and I liked seeing things through her eyes, but the girl seriously irritated me sometimes. It was like she was blind to the world around her, especially when it came to Chase. Over and over his actions showed how much he cared about her, and yet, Ember acted like a brat, always throwing his mistakes at his face and blaming him for everything that happened. She expected Chase to just open his emotions to her in front of everyone
At some points, Ember overreacted so much I wanted to shake some sense into her. If someone told her the truth about something, she'd crumble to the floor, trembling, and start crying a river of tears. And then it would take twenty minutes for her to snap out of it and be able to stand. Wake up, girl, there's no time for you to act like a baby! Either you go through whatever's necessary to live, or you won't be alive much longer. I don't know how Chase was patient enough to stand her behavior.
Now, to the good parts of the book: Chase himself. Not because he's the hot guy that's supposed to fall in love with the girl in a day, but because he was so much more than that. Chase was broken in so many ways during the book that I wanted to do nothing more than hug him half the time. His experiences as a soldier were devastating. His fellow soldiers explored every weak aspect of his personality, until there was nothing left but a ghost of the boy he used to be. Chase's been in love with a Ember for a very long time -- since they were kids, actually -- but even his enrollment as a soldier didn't destroy this love.
I loved Chase's personality, his ruthlessness and, most important, his hero complex. The way he wanted to protect Ember from everything that happened around them was heart-warming. He seriously won me over.
With a very good plot and dystopian world, Article 5 was a dense book, one that made me rethink a lot of aspects of my country. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series, and if you haven't read this book yet, do it. It's amazing, even with those flaws ;)