By Kristen Simmons
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The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.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.
Do I dare? Am I really doing it? Am I giving ARTICLE 5 the perfect score that I never thought I would give in these reviews? Try as I might to find something at fault with this book, to take even one point away from it, I just can’t. I enjoyed ARTICLE 5 so immensely, that I must give the book a 100%. If you were to read only ONE dystopian book this year, let that book be ARTICLE 5 by Kristen Simmons.
All you need to learn about the plot of ARTICLE 5 can be found in the summary above. That gives the overall description of the world in which Ember and Chase live. But what you don’t know is that Kristen actually thought that she was writing a romance novel and not a dystopian novel as she was writing the story of Ember and Chase. This is obvious, because much of the story, while perfectly describing a world that we never even want to imagine ourselves living in, centers around the interactions between the two protagonists and, as a romance, it is told beautifully. Kristen didn’t find out that it was a dystopian until her agent said, “This is a great dystopian!” So if you’re the sort of person that prefers a good romance over a dystopian novel, you will find plenty to love about ARTICLE 5. Who knew that an excellent romance would also be an excellent dystopian?
I LOVE Ember. I LOVE Chase. I love just about every character in this book, both the good and the bad. Why? Because each and every one of them is so well-developed, completely believable and easy to connect with; their stories are finely imagined down to the most minute detail and their motives are revealed as the story progresses. While I have discovered that some readers find Ember to be self-centered and clueless, almost too naive, I see her actions and behavior to be the result of a life spent conforming to her society to such extremes that she had blinded herself to the truth. She became very good at “blending in”. Her every action and thought in the book is believable and I love her for her naivety. In the end she becomes a completely different person than she is in the beginning, and it is all due to the horrific events she has to endure throughout the book. The same goes with Chase (who I both love and pity and swoon over all at the same time), and also with the characters Sean and Rebecca. I even like Tucker as he is a well-developed character and a necessary part of the story. Each character has their own story and each story comes full circle in this book, even though there is more to come in two future installments. The characters are definitely one of the best aspects of the book.
THIS is a dystopian future that one can definitely believe in. Are you afraid of our government overtaking our society? You haven’t seen NOTHING yet, not until you read ARTICLE 5. The setting is so sad and desolate and you will see it all unfold before your very eyes. In the story you get to take a “road trip” of sorts with Ember and Chase, a trip much like the one in the dystopian tale, The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. The “road” that Ember and Chase travel on is wrought with danger and close encounters. You fear for these two every step of the way. And you WILL believe in this world once you reach the end. Trust me.
The story kicks right off with the arrest of Ember’s mother and her own resulting capture. The story takes off at breakneck speed from that point on, not letting the reader stop for a breath as one dangerous encounter after another takes place. It is a wild roller coaster ride, to say the least. There are moments of pure terror, followed by brief moments of beauty. Kristen masterfully uses her knowledge of the human psyche in her story, and she excels at describing the affects that horrific events have on her characters. Take a deep breath before you dive in. You’re going to need it.
What can I say. I have a great respect for Kristen after reading ARTICLE 5. She is a master storyteller with a bright future ahead of her. She knows how to get into the minds of her characters, and make you BELIEVE in them and her world. She describes events in such a way that every detail is covered and rings true, not only in her world but in ours, too. She accomplishes this believability without succumbing to the trap of “too much” info dumping. No words are wasted or unnecessary. In fact, the believability of her world is what makes her story so captivating and easy to get lost in. I dare say you will get lost, too.
So there it is: my review, my gushing praise… A perfect score. I respect anyone who disagrees, but as it stands I cannot imagine Kristen’s tale told in any other way. To me, ARTICLE 5 is THE dystopian of the year.