Friday, February 1, 2013

Review: Article 5

by Kristen Simmons
Series: Article 5, #1
Hardcover, 362 pages
Published January 31st 2012 by Tor Teen
Age Recommendation: Young Adult

Summary (from Goodreads):
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The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.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.

Looking over the summary now that I've finished Article 5, I wonder what initially drew me to it. Although I don't really understand my reasoning now, for some reason, it stood out among the many, many dystopians published in the last year or so. Whatever the reason,  I had high hopes for Article 5. While it was not a great read, it managed to avoid completely falling flat.

In the beginning, I had some hope for an interesting and engaging dystopian, but what I got was a medium-boring romance that I felt like I'd read before. The book was pretty evenly split between the two main characters trying to find their way to a safe house (pretty much the entire plot) and Ember trying to figure out exactly how she felt toward Chase. That said, in terms of keeping me interested, it was fine, but it wasn't amazing.

The main drawback for me was that I never felt really invested in the characters. Had Article 5 ended with Ember's capture and Chase's death (spoiler: it doesn't), I wouldn't have minded much. Perhaps if there had been more complex characters (and complex supporting characters as well, something Article 5 was noticeably lacking), I would have cared more, but I never connected with Ember or Chase enough to care about their fates.

Another thing Article 5 seemed to be lacking was a reason for the dystopian setting. There was very little explanation either for how the world worked or even why the characters were living in a dystopian society to begin with. How did this highly regulated and militarized society come to be? Without these answers, the dystopia seemed like little more than a backdrop. You could stick the characters into any setting or time period and the story would work with very minor adjustments.

Overall Thoughts: Article 5 wasn't a terrible read, but it wasn't great either. I would recommend it to dystopian fans who have high tolerances for wishy-washy characters.

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