Monday, February 20, 2012

Book Review: Article 5

Title/Author:  Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
                    (Article 5 #1)

Genre:  Young Adult, Dystopia, Science Fiction

Published:  January 31st, 2012 by Tor Teen

Hardcover, 364 pages

How I Got the Book:  Put it on hold as soon as the entry went up on my library's catalogue and finally got it last week!

Why I Picked It Up?:  The summary really interested me.  I have a soft-spot for dystopian literature.


Book Jacket Blurb:  "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The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.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.

In the three years since the war ended, 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."

My Review of the Work: 

From the get go, readers are thrust into this dystopian world where 5 new governmental laws prevail:

The Moral Statutes of the United States of America

Article 1:
The United States embraces the Church of America as her official religion.

Article 2:
Literature and other media considered immoral are hereby banned and shall not be owned, bought, sold, or traded in any capacity.

Article 3:
Whole families are to be considered one man, one woman, and child(ren).

Article 4:
Traditional male and female roles shall be observed.

Article 5: 
Children are considered valid citizens only when conceived by a married man and wife.

This new moral code runs this future United States where Ember now lives.  Everyday, new missing persons end up tacked to the board at the gas station, and Ember and her friends recognize some.  It is a world where people disappear in the blink of an eye and are never heard of again, and all because of these "moral tenants."

So when the Moral Police show up at the front door of the house where Ember and her mother (yes, just her mother) live, it's not just for a search for the contraband materials they keep hidden in their home (like Romance novels); this time, it's for the violation of Article 5.  And who is among the arresting officers but Chase, Ember's long-time neighbor and (ex?)boyfriend.  Separated from her mother, Ember is taken to a rehabilitation center for young girls, where she plots her escape plans to find her mother.
There were definite things I appreciated and loved about this first-in-a-series novel and a few things I didn't love so much.  I will start with the negative and end with the positives.  =)

Probably the biggest "uggggh" part of the book for me was the wishy-washyness of our main girl, Ember.  At some points in the book, I'm like "yes! You go girl!"  But honestly, many points of the book held the "Seriously?! What are you doing?! Oh My Goodness will you shut UP!" moments with her.  And I really am hoping that this is Kristen Simmons development of Ember to help her grow into a strong young rebel by the end of the series.  That is what I am chalking it all up to, so that is why my overall opinion of this novel is still pretty high.  Ember really doesn't annoy you the whole book, but the parts that she does are just over the top, almost.  Now, I do get it.  Ember is having to work through her thoughts on this version of her Chase, and she is trying to figure out who Chase is now.  But she can do that in her head (as this is told from her POV) and not by whining out loud in conversation.

On the flip side, I really loved Kristen Simmons world development.  Between the Moral Policemen and the staff at the rehabilitation center, we are really given a sense of how horrible the world has come to be--there is a great presence of an evil that is present in humanity, which is just plain scary!  But as Ember and Chase travel south-bound and encounter different characters and people, you can really get some glimpses at just how horrible the world Kristen Simmons creates is and will be before the end.  If you want some realistic dystopian literature, then you can stop looking, because this book is it!  Government controlling morality = super scary world!

And probably my other favorite part of this novel has to be Chase.  Wow, what a character.  Not only is he that dreamy, attractive, next-door neighbor type, but he has had to go through a lot in his life.  His character is slowly revealed through each and every scene, and the more I learn, the more I love him!  Especially for a character we learn about through someone else's eyes, we get a lot of the psychological effects of being drafted into an army he didn't want to be in, and what his job has done to him mentally and emotionally.  Chase's character development is what makes this novel so good, and what makes me quick to forgive Ember for all of her annoying tendencies.

I am extremely hopeful that the second novel, which currently has no publishing date, will be even better than this one.  This is definitely a series that dystopia fans should check out!  I am looking forward to the next installment of this story.

My Bookshelf Review:

A Fourth Shelf Book.  (without the !)

In numbers terms, I would give this book a solid 3.5.  I liked this book more than Tempest but less than Divergent (if that tells you anything).  I really enjoyed the world-building and the psychological development and struggles with Chase (loved him!)  Ember is more of that annoying main character who whines and doesn't think things through (which is why I could only give it a 3.5) but I do see some potential for her to grow through this trilogy.  It is definitely a worthwhile read, just know you might not like Ember that much. Lol.



Love and Ben the Bachelor ( ;-) ),
Jennifer

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