Author: Kristen Simmons
Series: Article 5 Series
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publish Date: January 31st, 2012
Genres: Dystopian, Action/Adventure, Young Adult, Romance
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The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.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.
Article 5 was a bit of a rough read, I’m not going to lie, for a variety of readings. Of these, one of the most pressing was the absence of a backstory. Absolutely no explanation was provided for the current state of affairs in the poverty-stricken United States at the hands of an oppressive government, above and beyond a great, mysterious “War.” Furthermore, there are minimal details about the actual mandates and workings of this new government, above and beyond what is absolutely essential to the plot. The absence of any reasoning for the establishment of this futuristic society was one of the most disappointing blows about this book, especially considering the importance of world building in the dystopian genre.
Moving beyond the poorly executed world building, the characters seemed unable to communicate with one another. I would run out of fingers and toes if I tried to count the number of occasions when a simple, five minute conversation could have prevented an impending catastrophe or quickly resolved an argument. You’d think the characters, namely Ember and Chase, would have touched on these somewhat important topics at least once during their 200 mile trek across the American countryside. But apparently they never came up, and it completely escaped their minds to discuss them at some point. Their lack of communication pretty much took my sympathy right along with it.
While we’re on the topic of Ember and Chase, they harbored a true love/hate relationship. Ember quickly fluctuated between the two emotions, ranging from willing to give up her firstborn child to spend the remainder of her life with him to attempting to desert him in the middle of the wilderness, despite the fact that there are several search parties and warrants out for his arrest. I know females can be moody and nearly impossible to understand, but Ember took this to an unnecessary extreme. I thought I was indecisive, but Ember makes me look like an army commander who has made up his mind before even fully processing the situation at hand. While this served as a confidence booster, it was also an extreme source of frustration that relentlessly tormented me for the entire 362 page novel. I was not amused, to say the least.
The majority of the romance itself takes place in a series of flashbacks to a period before the government had developed the Moral Statutes and desolated society as we know it today. The flashbacks were inserted at inopportune times throughout the book, often resulting in a disjointed scene or climactic event. The book was romance-driven, countering the gruesome, bloody adventure novel that I was expecting. Despite its constant presence throughout the book, the romance was disappointing and never truly clicked for me. It was a stereotypical, overdone scenario that had me constantly rolling my eyes and nodding off out of sheer boredom.
The plot was excessively, gorge my eyeballs out with a spork, predictable – Ember does something stupid, Chase heroically swoops in to save her, and they live happily ever after (sort of). While the initial chapters were intriguing, I quickly lost interest in the mysterious society that apparently arose out of absolutely nowhere when combined with Ember’s wishy washy reactions and inability to decipher her own emotions. From the very first page, I could have accurately summarized the plot in its entirety over the course of two or three sentences. Hence my reluctance to finish the book and eventual misery as I attempted to force my way through.
Ember’s overactive conscience and lack of common sense are a frustrating combination and earn her the award of one of my least favorite protagonists of all time. Consequently, I was rather surprised that she remained in relatively one piece for the duration of the book – although I’m tempted to attribute this solely to Chase’s finely-tuned instincts and basic survival knowledge. I’ll admit, this was a little disappointing – I may or may not have been hoping for some unfortunate mishap.
Overall, I desperately wanted to mark this book as DNF on multiple occasions while reading. However, I decided to stick with it in the hopes of some redeeming quality that failed to make an appearance until later in the novel. With no such luck, I found this book merely as a source of irritation as I attempted to determine the obscure character motives and even more obscure world building. While this may serve as a great read for those who haven’t previously dabbled in dystopian novels, it certainly didn’t live up to my expectations and fell significantly short of its competition.