Breaking Point

Breaking Point
 Breaking Point
By Kristen Simmons
February 12, 2013
Ages 13 and up
Tor Teen

The second installment in Kristen Simmons’s fast-paced, gripping YA dystopian series.

After faking their deaths to escape from prison, Ember Miller and Chase Jennings have only one goal: to lay low until the Federal Bureau of Reformation forgets they ever existed.

Near-celebrities now for the increasingly sensationalized tales of their struggles with the government, Ember and Chase are recognized and taken in by the Resistance—an underground organization working to systematically take down the government. At headquarters, all eyes are on the sniper, an anonymous assassin taking out FBR soldiers one by one. Rumors are flying about the sniper’s true identity, and Ember and Chase welcome the diversion…

Until the government posts its most-wanted list, and their number one suspect is Ember herself.

Orders are shoot to kill, and soldiers are cleared to fire on suspicion alone. Suddenly Ember can’t even step onto the street without fear of being recognized, and “laying low” is a joke. Even members of the Resistance are starting to look at her sideways.

With Chase urging her to run, Ember must decide: Go into hiding…or fight back?

ARTICLE 5 by Kristen Simmons was the first book to earn a perfect score from me here on the blog. But did the sequel, BREAKING POINT, continue the winning trend?

You bet’cha.

BREAKING POINT picks up almost immediately where ARTICLE 5 left off, the voice of the young girl, Ember, continues to carry us through her government-run society. Ember’s world is so tragically and realistically described, one could easily imagine that it could one day be our own. That alone is a terrifying thought, as situations to the likes of which have not been seen since the Holocaust are happening every day in Ember’s world.

The first half of the book involves Ember and Chase’s experiences as they accommodate to life with the Resistance. Ember is “wanted criminal numero uno” in the minds of the FBR, and she is accused of being an assassin. This is remarkable, since we all know that Ember herself is nothing of the sort. Or is she? The answer as to who is taking out government officials one by one is kept from the reader, constantly forcing us to question everything we know about the characters – including Ember and Chase. I particularly enjoyed this element of mystery hidden between the lines within BREAKING POINT. I wanted to know “whodunnit”, and I am happy to say that my questions were answered… eventually.

Obviously, what with everyone thinking she’s a criminal, Ember’s life is no less on the line in BREAKING POINT than it was in ARTICLE 5. If anything, her life is in even greater danger here. The entire story arc within these pages revolves around how she balances the seemingly impossible act of staying alive with her desire to save her friend, Rebecca,from the FBR’s clutches. The psychological ramifications of such tasks are unimaginable. There is only so much one girl can take, right? Ah, but that is why “BREAKING POINT” is such a aptly chosen title for this book.

Whereas the first half of the book is an action-packed survival story, the second half of the book is an (even more action-packed) rescue mission. Oh, plus there’s a bit of romance woven beautifully throughout. We encounter new characters, new dangers, as well as revisit locations and characters from ARTICLE 5. At one point in the book, there’s a feeling of nostalgia for what once was and “what might have been”. This feeling is so overwhelming it darn near tears the heart in half. With a third book on the horizon, we know that things won’t be getting any easier for Ember any time soon. That thought alone makes the current events even more difficult to swallow. Nonetheless, it’s a sign of superb writing when a story can draw such strong reactions out of readers.

BREAKING POINT is a darkly narrated book that will both alarm and astound readers. Riveting, intense, painful, honest. These are all words that I would use to describe what I believe is the best dystopian series to ever hit the shelves. I look forward to seeing how this one ends in 2014.

Plot: 10
Characters: 10
Setting: 10

Grade: 100