Review: Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Publication Date: January 31st, 2012
Tor Teen
Format: Hardback, 386 pages
RATING: 4 out of 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 The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.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.

Imagine a world without freedom; a world ruled by an oppressive government faction – militaristic, sadistic, tyrannical. Now multiply that by two and you’ve immersed in a world made of surrealistic nightmare. Ember Miller found herself in the mercy of FBR when her mother was arrested for infringement of Article 5 – a moral statute that persecutes those in violation of this law. To make matters worse, the boy she loved sent her in a reformatory institution where freedom equates to death. The events that followed was her bid to save her mother from inevitable death with the help of the same boy who once held her heart. But Chase Jennings is a changed man. He’s now a soulless soldier who only cared about following orders.

Dystopian is my new black. I wear it with pride, I wear it everyday. If I have a zombie book and a dystopian book in front of me, I’d always go for the latter. And because of this, I’ve found myself at an imaginary fork in the road. Maybe it’s also because I’ve read so many that my taste buds had gone numb for this genre.

I really did enjoy this. Kristen Simmons had followed the formula to a tee. And maybe that’s why I feel so conflicted about it. I want to gush about the book, but there is nothing that stands out about Article 5. I’ve found that most of the dystopian books I’ve read has the characters travelling from point A to point B while encountering a whole slew of trouble along the way. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s what make dystopian awesome; humans overcoming roadblocks to get to the people they love or at least to get to the cradle of continued existence. Nowadays, you’ll be hard pressed to find a dystopian novel that veers from this plot structure. And if you find one, please nudge me in the right direction.

Kristen also conceptualized some pretty strong and courageous characters. Admirable but…pedestrian. The romance that I was looking for was there. It was as tension-filled as I’d imagined it to be when I first read of the blurb. The flashbacks eased some of the frustrations I felt while I watched the dynamics of what had become of their present relationship. Some of Ember’s rationale for her decision makings in the book bothered me some. I thought it only made sense to her and not to me.

I think what was missing in Article 5 was a solid foundation. I am going to assumed that because the military defended the country during The War, they naturally appointed themselves as the government. I didn’t read anything about an actual type of political system other than the killing and torturing of innocent lives – if you could even call that a system. I also don’t get why the oppressive government suddenly views women as the lesser being. Did we start the war? Is that why women get treated like the cancer of an already diminished civilization?

I’d like to defend my four star rating by saying that while it lacked the required groundwork, Article 5 is a dystopian that was written theoretically well. And since my love for this genre will not suddenly vanish in a blink of an eye, I still hold a reverence to the authors who could pull these type of stories well. I think Kristen Simmons did just that and I don’t ever regret pining for this book for most of last year. I think that the instalment to Article 5 would be even better based on how it ended. There was so much to look forward to and I, for one refuse to miss anything. So maybe I’ll be pining for most of 2012 too.

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