June 6, 2013

Latest Read: Article 5

Here are the basics ...
Article 5 (#1) by Kristen Simmons
Publication date: Jan. 31, 2012
Publisher: Tor Teen
Category: Young Adult - Dystopian
Source: Borrowed from library

Summary: New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned. The Bill of Rights has been replaced with the Moral Statutes, police with soldiers and fines with 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.  Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. 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. (Adapted goodreads.com)
My thoughts…
The good: It took me a few days to write this review because I kept thinking that there was something different about this dystopian but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. But I've got it now. Nothing catastrophic happens. There was no major natural disasters, no sudden fatal illnesses plaguing the world, no aliens or advanced human powers (a la X-Men), no advances in science gone wrong. It was just like one day the government decided to impose all these rules on society to weed out the people they considered immoral and "rehabilite" them. It made for a world that was dark and grim but slightly more grounded in reality compared to other dystopian novels I've read.

The United States Ember Miller lives in is vastly different from the one we know. Instead of a Bill of Rights, they have the Moral Statutes. Instead of the police, there are only soliders who are all too willing to arrest and harm those who don't follow the rules. People are killed every day for reading the wrong books, practicing the wrong religions or breaking curfews. Ember knows how to keep a low-profile so she's not arrested or put to trial for such things but her mother? Rebellious in ways that worry Ember. Then one night her fears come true when her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 and Ember gets sent to a "center" for girls. And standing by as this all goes down is Chase Jennings, a boy she loved once turned soldier for the government.

The writing was slow-moving but at the same time action-packed. It may seem slow at times because it is a long journey for Ember. She's stuck in this center, desperate to get to her mother. She just wants them to be together and safe. And who is she? She's just this regular scared girl who doesn't know how to fight. And I think her best quality was her innate reflex to protect and try to save others in spite of that. Whether it's her mother or even a complete stranger. She hasn't been hardened enough to let people die to save her own skin. It was both admirable but occasionally frustrating because you just wanted to yell at her for being trustworthy. Even though I wanted to shake her, it was consistent with her character through the entire book - this is who she is. My other favorite part of the book was Chase and their relationship. Through flashbacks we learn what they meant to each other and you know those feelings are still simmering beneath the surface. I like that they don't just fall into each other's arms with huge declarations of love. There's so many secrets and hurt and emotion between them and I enjoyed the progressive unraveling of it all.

(Some) reservations: I had more a than few moments of frustrations with Ember but my biggest pet peeve was her inability to speak up when it was important. I know there needs to be conflict but I think there was enough going on without the drama of words misunderstood between characters. Just say what you think! Also, I wanted more explanation on why the government decided to inflict the Moral Statutes on the United States. Who was in charge now? Did they have a president or a dictator? And what about the rest of the world? But most of all - I just wanted to know why.

Do I recommend?: Even though the world-building was slightly lacking, it made up for it with engaging characters and I want to know what's in store for them next. I already have the second book on hold at the library so yes, I would recommend this.

Happy reading!

4 comments:

  1. Ooooh very nice! I just picked this one up so this makes me more excited to get to it! :)

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  2. While I do like a dystopian that has lots of catastrophic events that lead to it being a dystopia, this one sounds really good and, sadly, not super far-fetched. Great review! I'll have to check this one out when I'm looking for a great dystopia!

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  3. I actually have not read this one yet, though it's been recommended to me a couple of times. I think it would make for an interesting read though, as it certainly sounds different from other, similar books! Glad you liked it, in spite of the reservations that cropped up.

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  4. I'm glad you liked this one; I wasn't the biggest fan. Like you, the worldbuilding was a little too sketchy for me to find it believable but I also really disliked Ember. I couldn't understand how she had managed to stay so innocent to the ways of her world, when she had lived in it for years!

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