Joint Review: Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Publisher: Tor
Where did you get the book: Review copies from Publisher
Release date: Out now

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The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.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.

*blurb taken from goodreads*

Lou: Has and I were quite excited when we saw the blurb and premise for this book. It’s been awhile since I read a dystopian YA (probably since Hunger Games), so once I had the time, I was quite keen to get stuck in this book. Unfortunately, Article 5 happens to have a better premise and blurb than the actual story itself. The world building was quite weak, and I had no sense of history of what happened to cause the war that created the Moral Statutes and the Federal Bureau of Reformation. The history was pretty non existent, and I didn’t understand what was the reasoning for why these people acted the way they did. I didn’t get or like the heroine, Ember. She’s a character who had way too many TSTL moments and had no thought of others who put their lives in danger to save her own hide, for example Chase, the hero and love interest.

Has: I totally agree! When I first heard of the premise of the book, I was like GIMME because a world which falls to an autocratic and fascist like society is really frightening. But the execution and the characterisation of the leading heroine was a huge disappointment. The lack of information and world-building on why the US went into war and the FBR didn’t make much sense especially with the time-frame as well. The events, how the FBR was established and how they gained control was too rapid. I wished that it was clarified and expanded upon, because Ember’s inconsistent views about how ruthless the authorities were didn’t make sense and it really affected her characterisation which was basically into TSTL territory.

Lou: I really liked the beginning of the book because there was action straight off the hop. Once the story got going, though, it all fell apart. When Ember’s mother was arrested for Article 5 — having a child out of wedlock — I didn’t even understand why that was against the rules for the FBR. I needed to understand why they acted like they did, but it was never explained. Ember was a heroine that I didn’t like. She was so wishy washy, and when it came down to being killed or doing the killing so they wouldn’t die, Ember would get all OMG, you cannot kill them. No matter how evil they are, I can’t stoop to their level. Some of you may know I’m not a fan of violence, but jeez, when two men are about to rape and kill you, you bloody fight back. It was inconsistencies in her character that also made her weak. When she was sent to the Reformation centre, she had no issues then about being defiant and attempting to hurt people in the process. I also didn’t understand why most of the book involved a road trip that was so long it became very boring.

Has: OMG yes! The one thing that I didn’t really get about the motives and aims of the FBR. Are they religious and theocratic because it sounded like they were. But if they were in control, it wouldn’t be that extensive because not everyone would be indoctrinated. It was so very very vague and frustrating. And I had to stop reading the book several times because Ember really annoyed me, and at that point where she was being threatened by those men and then her railing at Chase for defending her. I almost DNF. It was almost like the reactions she had was the opposite on how to deal with the predicament she was in. And she was very unlikable. She lives in a dark and oppressive world, and she was so very naive and stupid to think the authorities were not going to be harsh and dangerous. Then she was challenging them and not caring about the repercussions which affected others. She also moaned about Chase for being selfish, but she was so self centered and had no qualms in blackmailing people to help her out.

The road trip element of the book also bogged down the pacing of the book, and most of it was spent on the angsting over the romance, which I found to be pretty weak. I honestly didn’t understand why Chase would bother to help Ember or see the strength of his feelings for her. The flashbacks didn’t do anything to establish the romance or to the plot and more time should have been spent on explaining the world-building and the resistance.

Lou: I had a ‘throw the book against the wall’ moment when she actually had a go at Chase for putting his life at risk to save her own ass. I didn’t understand what Chase saw in her, and the first moment she moaned at him, he should have left her where she was. She then ran away because it was for the good of Chase, and again the inconsistency of her character popped up. The road trip ended up going to a location where there wasn’t any revelations of what the rebels were fighting for. The romance was so off centre that it seemed quite odd. The flashbacks failed to connect the emotions between Chase and Ember, and the way in which Ember treated Chase… she didn’t deserve him. I also found that some parts of the story were added for shock value alone, and not for the purpose of the story — for example the dog that was killed and butchered. There were odd pockets of shock value that seemed out of place.

All in all, I was very disappointed in Article 5. It had a great premise, but the execution and plot of the story was a fail for me in so many ways. I give it a D-.

Has: I am a huge sucker for this premise, but I totally agree in how this was explored in Article 5 was very disappointing. I can ignore issues with weak world-building if the characterisation and romance is strong. But with this book, I can’t honestly recommend it. I’ve never felt so annoyed and frustrated with a heroine like this – and I’ve read a few! I think I’m more disappointed with the fact that I was so looking forward to this book but it never really lived to that promise. I also have to give it a D-

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1 thought on “Joint Review: Article 5 by Kristen Simmons”

  1. Thanks for the review ladies, I am really not a fan of dystopian, but I am sorry you are both so much disappointed in this one.

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