SUMMARY: Since the war ended and the Bill of Rights was revoked, soldiers patrol the streets looking for violators of the moral statutes. Seventeen years ago, Ember’s mother had Ember out of wedlock, but now, having children outside a marriage is a violation of Article 5 of the moral statutes. As a result of the new law, Ember’s former best friend Chase, now a soldier, arrests Ember’s mother and forces Ember into an oppressive girls’ reformatory.
WHAT I LIKED: The cover! It goes with the story! Did the illustrator–gasp!–actually read the book? Chase really wears a red flannel shirt like that with camo pants, and Ember’s hair is correctly cut short and uneven. Love the black, white, and red color scheme.
Fast-paced, lots of action. I got into the story almost immediately, and had a difficult time putting it down for most of the book. I am going to list several things I didn’t like in a minute, but my four-star rating largely rests in my complete absorption in the story’s action.
The premise. Bill of Rights revoked? Moral statutes? I love the dystopian idea of a society based on “wholesome family values” that are enforced via guns, blood, and “breaking” those who fight back. Tons of potential there.
Chase Jennings. He’s Ember’s former best friend and short-lived love interest before he gets drafted as a soldier. Brave, clever, cute, fierce. Love him.
A romance-driven story. I prefer romance in my books, but if romance is not your thing, you won’t like Article 5. Much of the story revolves around Chase and Ember’s past and present relationship.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE: Ember. Lord, girl, could you possibly be more irritating? Couldn’t you just TRY to trust a person who saves your life over and over again? Could you be more clueless about his pain? Could you please stop thinking about yourself and your apparently helpless mother for more than five seconds?
And what is with Ember’s obsession with finding her mother? She thinks her mother can’t survive without Ember looking after her, but I did not understand why at all. Ember’s mother is an adult, but Ember treats her like a little kid. In every dangerous situation, Ember’s only thought is of her poor, helpless mother. Ember drove me nuts with her constant planning to sneak off and leave Chase, but when she actually does leave him, it only leads them both into much worse danger. Stupid, stupid girl.
Weak world-building. A police state enforcing morality is a very interesting premise, but I don’t think that Simmons took the time to explore it. We know there was a war sometime recently, but what was it about? Who was involved? Was it a world war, or only in the U.S.? Why were the eastern seaboard cities evacuated? What does the war have to do with morals? Ember and Chase remember an easier time, so things clearly got really bad, really quickly. How did that happen so fast? Why is everyone starving? Who are the Sisters, and how did they become so powerful? I have a million questions about this world and very few answers.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A worthwhile read if you like romance and run-for-your-life action. It’s violent, so a word of caution to those who have a weak stomach. I plan to read the sequel, Breaking Point.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We have it, and I do plan to keep it on the shelves despite the violence. I plan to warn students about it when they check the book out. Middle school librarians are advised to read it before purchasing if you are concerned about violence in your collection.
READALIKES: The Darkest Minds (Bracken); Unwind (Shusterman); Under the Never Sky (Rossi)
- Overall: 4/5
- Creativity: 3/5–world-building needs more detail
- Characters: 3/5–love Chase; Ember’s irritating
- Engrossing: 5/5
- Writing: 3/5
- Appeal to teens: 5/5
- Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5
- Language: mild–I really don’t remember any language, but I was so wrapped up in the story, I may have just not noticed it
- Sexuality: medium–some kissing, several lewd comments and threats of rape, Ember sees a couple having sex
- Violence: very high–dog carcass hanging from hook, gun violence, manual combat, blood, beatings, torture
- Drugs/Alcohol: none