Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

So I’ve continued on the dystopian bandwagon with Kristen Simmons’ debut novel Article 5. I would say this debut is pretty solid.

Ember Miller lives in a world where the Bill of Rights have been replaced by the Moral Statues and the government is abusing control over the entire country. Everything is normal until Ember’s rebellious mom is arrested for being a single mother, an offense punishable by death in this society. With the return of the boy next door, Chase Jennings, in the form of at FBR agent arresting her mom, Ember is captured and sent to an all girls rehabilitation center, where she will do anything to get her mom back with the help of the most unlikely person.

This novel was really fast-paced. The action, twists and turns, and craziness was non-stop. Ember lives in a really scary world where the first amendment doesn’t exist and freedom is just a word. I shiver at the thought of such a horrible society with no justice. The world Simmons built was unnerving almost too much so. The voice of Ember was too neutral and uncomprehending, it was like she lacked the depth to show fear or have hope. The absence of real emotions left the book sounding shallow and distant. However, the world building was crystal clear. I could see the red zones and abandoned buildings as well as the towns that still hosted civilization.

The connection between Ember and Chase was confusing at times. It turned out to be the spider-man mentality where you love someone so much you want them to stay away from you. Personally, I think that storyline is overdone but it fit with this novel. Chase has become a different person since joining the FBR as a soldier but fights who he is to be who he once was with Ember.  I understand what Simmons was trying to do but it seemed a little too forced.  There are only so many times you can hate each other one minute and then steal a kiss during a life or death situation in a novel. It was a recurring theme and it was almost like Simmons couldn’t go deeper with the characters so they just kept repeating the same actions in different settings.

The one thing that I am getting tired of seeing in Young Adult fiction lately is the heroine doing something stupid and then something bad happening to them. It leaves the reader thinking, duh! No wonder all this bad stuff is happening, she keeps making bad decisions. I am unable to sympathize with heroines that make bad decisions and end up in worse situations. For example, in this book Ember walks off on her own (this happens multiple times actually) when she knows it isn’t safe. It’s like a complete Face-Palm moment. No real person would do that! I don’t believe you, Simmons! The lack of common sense in young literary characters is getting annoying.

With that said, I found myself entertained while reading this novel if only to see what happened next. The plot line changes so quickly almost in a matter of pages. I liked how the story came together in the end with a justified feel of unity against the government. It peaked my interest enough that I’ll probably read the next installment. Article 5 is the first novel in a trilogy. Overall, the book was pretty good but not overwhelmingly great.

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