Author: Kristen Simmons
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: Jan 31, 2012
Buy: From Amazon
It took me forever to write this review. Okay, maybe not forever. More like three days. But still, I struggled to put together something coherent. And I still can't guarantee that it is coherent. And that's not because I hated this book. Nope, definitely not. It was because I loved it so much. So much so that I struggled to find the words to express it. Even now, I don't think I have done it justice.
But here it is, anyway.
First things first, take a look at my rating for this book. 4.5 stars, not 5 stars, but 4.5 stars. Why, you may be asking, have I not decided to give this 5 whole stars when I adored it so much? Answer: I don't know. Really, I don't actually know. Every time I go to change it to 5 stars, there is something, as of yet undefined, that makes me hesitate, that makes me change my mind. It may be the fact that Beth and Ryan - two side characters - were a part of the opening scene but then have hardly any relevance to the rest of the story. Or it may be the fact that I wanted more of an insight into the Moral Statutes. Those are two things, two very small and insignificant things, that I can think of. I don't give out 5 stars willy-nilly - feel free to call me harsh - but a part of me is convinced that this should be a 5-star book. And the other part of me feels a bit guilty for not raising my rating by just a measly half-star. Still, that measly half-star, to me, must mean it wasn't completely perfect. But hey, it was as close to perfection as it could get.
And that is pretty much all I have to say on the negatives. And, let's face it, that is not really a negative aspect is it, the fact that I cannot work out my own thoughts? What I am sure about are the positive aspects of this book. And wow, were there many.
The story: If a Dystopian book is done well, the story line can be incredibly exciting. The thing is, 'exciting' does not even begin to cover Article 5. Almost instantly, only after a few pages in, the action kicks in. Ember, our seventeen year old protagonist, has her world turned upside down in an instant when soldiers - including Chase Jennings - from the Federal Bureau of Reformation, dubbed the Moral Militia, turn up at her front door and snatch her mother away from her. Why? Her mother is a violator of the Moral Statues. Section Two, Article 5, to be specific. In other words, in a world where compliance is mandatory, her mother has committed the unforgivable and must be punished. Before Ember can even come to terms with this, she is sent to a girls' reformatory and rehabilitation center. She is determined to break out. To break out and find her mother before it is too late...
There wasn't a dull moment in this book. I loved every minute of the unfolding of the plot, especially the twists. There is a small heart-breaking revelation toward the end of the book, just before the climax. I was devastated over the turn of events, but I definitely think including it made both the dystopian world more believable and the story more engaging. As horrible as it was, I'm glad it went the way it did. This is a gritty book, after all, and if everything sorted itself out by the end, well, then, it would essentially be a fairy-tale, wouldn't it? Thankfully for us dystopian junkies, this book is as far from a happy-go-lucky fairy-tale as it gets.
The writing: Article 5 is Kristen Simmons' debut novel, so any impressions of her writing were first impressions. I wasn't really sure what to think for the first few pages. I only really started to notice how much of a skilled writer she was once the Moral Militia turn up at Ember's door and all hell breaks loose. It becomes more and more obvious as the novel progresses. Her writing is well-paced and creates the perfect tone to match the gritty story. There are flashbacks integrated throughout the book - flashbacks of Chase and Ember's relationship. I loved this aspect of the book. Kristen Simmons handled each transition to and from a flashback expertly, and wrote each and every one with as much care as the rest of her story. There is a noticeable contrast between the happy past seen in the flashbacks and the present that Chase and Ember now live in. This, I thought, was a great way to remind the reader that Kristen Simmons' dystopian world is exactly that; an unfortunate dystopia for our characters.
The characters: Let's start with Chase. What can I say about him, other than the fact he is completely swoon-worthy. Seriously, I am willing to clear my ever-growing list of book-boyfriends and just have his name on it. I adore him that much. Ignoring the fact that he is beyond hot - and really, that will take some effort! - he is also a brilliant character and addition to the story. Remember Tobias/Four from Divergent? Well, Chase reminds me a little of him. He is a fighter, a level-headed person with a hard exterior. We see so many different sides to him during the course of this book, especially when it becomes obvious that Ember appears to be the only person able to break through his hard shell.
Ember, too, is a brilliant character. From the moment her mother was being forcibly taken away, and Ember latches on to her, I knew she was a fighter, too. Her determination and resilience shine through especially when she can think of nothing else but finding her mother. I admired her character a great deal and appreciated the ways she dealt with each new struggle. It was very easy to like her personality, and also to see how much of a different person she was in the flashbacks.
Overall, Article 5 is, without a doubt, one of the best YA Dystopian books I have ever read. Ever. Kristen Simmons debuts with a novel that I hope beyond hope will get the attention it thoroughly deserves. Article 5 has everything fans of this genre are craving; a believable dystopian world, a thrilling story line, and perfect characters. All I can do now is wait for the sequel...
Rating: 4.5 stars