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I Belong

Early Review: Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

TitleArticle 5

Author: Kristen Simmons

Genre: YA Dystopian

Series: Article 5 (Book 1)

Publication Date: January 31, 2012

Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages

ISBN-100765329581 (Tor Teen)

ISBN-13:  978-0765329585 (Tor Teen)

Reviewed by: Emmy


New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC 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The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.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 don’t usually 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 to forget that people weren’t always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. 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 Federal Bureau of Reformation. 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 what’s worse, one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings…the only boy Ember has ever loved.

Quick & Dirty:  This breakout novel takes off running, pulling the reader into a scarily realistic world where America as we know it no longer exists.  Fabulous prose and deep, continually developing characters will grip the reader until the last page.

Opening SentenceBeth and Ryan were holding hands.  It was enough to risk a formal citation for indecency, and they knew better, but I didn’t say anything.


The Review:

This novel begins with Ember’s mother being taken, for violating Article 5 which states the requirements of a family according to the Federal Reformation Bureau (colloquially referred to as the Moral Militia). According to the Moral Statutes, family is made up of a man and a woman, who are married, and their children.  Ember was born out of wedlock, and the new regulations say any child under the age of 18 is in violation of Article 5.  Ember is sent to a Girl’s Reformatory and Rehabilitation Center run by the Sisters of Salvation–meant to counteract feminism–who are lead by the terrifying Ms. Brock.  The most terrifying thing about Brock, which is also what makes the FBR fantastic villains, is that she completely believes everything she’s been told.  Women in their proper place.  Insubordination punishable by beatings.  And, of course, the Moral Statutes.

The plot of the story follows Ember as she tries to escape the reformatory and find her mother.  She was arrested by Chase Jennings, Ember’s old neighbor and ex.  The Moral Militia doesn’t support relationships when their soldiers should be devoting themselves entirely to the cause, and Ember finds herself torn between the old Chase and the new, broken Chase.  Chase is first exposed to the reader as a completely unlovable–though attractive–MM soldier, but through a series of flashbacks and his continual attempts to protect stubborn Ember, I found a deeper, even more lovable character than I could have expected.  He’s broken, but he hasn’t stopped fighting.  Ember, on the other hand, starts out naive and single-minded before learning to understand the world around her and the people in it.  It was hard to love the characters at first, because the story was moving so quickly there wasn’t much to grasp onto. But Simmons more than made up for that later.  Chase and Ember grow throughout the novel, which is one of the hardest things for an author to show realistically. They grow both individually and together as they fight to survive in a world dominated by terror and mindless obedience.

America in Article 5 holds true to the America we know today, at least geographically.  There are the same types of cars, same kinds of clothes, but it’s a country that was blown apart by war.  The best part about the world Simmons built here is that it’s not just any dystopia.  It holds true to human nature.  To our desire to survive, even if survival means conforming to ideals we may not believe in.  She’s created secondary characters that flesh out this terrifyingly realistic world. Simmons has built this world with meticulous attention to detail, which helps pull the reader into her fast paced plot.

We get flashbacks that go back to before Chase left and came back a soldier.  Unlike in many books, these flashbacks aren’t a cop out but a way to contrast the present fear and pain with Ember’s new reality.  They’re well written and sparse, giving the reader just enough information without throwing it in our face.  Her writing is blunt (this is a good thing) and grounded in great metaphors which really bring home the traumatic atmosphere people are forced to live in.

I absolutely adored this book.  It’s jarring at first, to believe that America could fall into such a horrible world, but it was a great read.  Kristen Simmons has a wonderful career ahead of her if she can keep writing with the beautiful narrative voice she created for Ember.  I can’t wait to read the next one!

Notable Scene:

“Where are they taking us?” I asked Rosa.

“They won’t say,” she said.  Then she smiled.  There was a gap between her two front teeth  “I already asked the guard back there.  The one with the shiner.”

I could picture this girl punching someone in the face.  I thought of Morris and the scratches on his neck, and it seemed surreal that I had done that. Attacking a soldier–that was insane.

“Will my mother be there?”

The girl looked at me as if I were a full idiot.

“Kiss that dream good-bye, chica,” she told me. “An Article 5 means that she’s not even your mom anymore.  You’re property of the government now.”

The Article 5 Series:

1. Article 5

FTC Advisory: Tor Teen provided me with a copy of Article 5.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Early Review: Article 5 by Kristen Simmons, 7.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
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2 Responses to “Early Review: Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

  1. Natalie AguirreNo Gravatar

    Great review. I so agree with it. I loved Kristin’s book. So excited for her debut.

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  2. Damaris @ Good Choice ReadingNo Gravatar

    I LOVE THIS BOOK! My review is going up on release day, but it is full of pure awesomeness!

    Great review!

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