Thursday, 16 January 2014

Review: Article 5

Article 5 (Article 5 #1) by Kristen Simmons

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The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.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

My Thoughts:
 We all know how clichéd and overdone the genre of dystopia is becoming, if it isn't already, so going into Article 5 I was desperately hoping that Kristen Simmons would bring something fresh and original to the metaphorical dystopian table. To my disappointment she did what many authors have been doing: writing a romance story set in a post-apocalyptic world in the naïve belief that it would enhance the novel.

She was wrong.

Ember Miller still remembers the way it was before the War, before the President's new Moral Statutes and before the Federal Bureau of Reformation enforced the new laws with intimidation, fear and violence. One afternoon, Ember's single mother is caught breaching Article 5 - children are considered valid citizens only when conceived by a married man and wife - of the new Moral Statutes and FBR soldiers come barging through their door to take both her mother for a trial and Ember in for "rehabilitation", but no-one has ever come back from their trials before and Ember is terrified.

And if it wasn't enough that she is being taken away from her family, her friends and her home, to a mysterious location where she isn't sure what is going to happen to her, Chase Jennings - the only boy Ember has ever loved - is one of the arresting soldiers.

You can see where this is going to go, right? Cue the teen angst.

The rest of the book follows Ember and Chase's romantic complications as they are faced with various dangers while simultaneously hating one another one minute and almost-kissing the next.

When you read a dystopian book its because of the world it is set in, well, it is for me at least. You want to know what happen to make the world be the way it has become - was it a giant tsunami or volcanic eruption under the Earth's surface? A alien invasion or zombie apocalypse? Did global warming really destroy the world? A good dystopian book has you a little scared - this could actually happen one day - and without this answer we are left wondering, clueless and, well, bored.

That was the problem with
Article 5. What happen to make the Moral Statue was the War. What War you ask? What a very good question! What War indeed? For the entire length of the book we are kept in the dark. We aren't let on to know what really happened to make the President make those laws and we don't even find out about how the FBR came about. This obviously retracts from the book. It isn't much good reading about two teens in such a situation if we don't even know why they have to be running.

What ruins
Article 5 further is the combination of bland writing and terrible charters. Kristen Simmons has not seemed to have grasped the concept that even if a book's characters and plotline are terrible a good writing style can save the day and win part of the reader's heart. Like in Rose by Any Other Name which has both terribly irritating and bitchy characters and a sleep-inducing plotline, but also amazing prose which kept me reading, no matter how irritated I became with it. Kristen Simmons doesn't bother with that. Her writing is witless, dull and with no emotion, no character, nothing. Completely flat.

I think we, readers, are all sick of the pathetic Bella Swan's ruining our books. What is so appealing about dim-witted, dependant and shallow female protagonists I will never, ever, be able to understand. And unfortunately, Ember fits right into the category. One minute she's thinking how much Chase has changed since they were kids and Oh gosh, he's a soldier now and I don't like him anymore so she runs away or puts them in danger by doing something utterly stupid and irrational, but Chase comes and save her so she's all He's so strong and now I feel safe with him.

What we need, in a dystopian society stressing the fact that women are second-class citizens, is a strong, rebellious female protagonist who can kick some misogynist's butts and defend her nation like Katniss Everdeen or Valkyrie Cain. Anyone but Ember Miller. She even tries to blackmail the first two nice people who want to help her. Why? I don't even know. She could have just helped them.

Also there are parts this book that just don't make sense. I have no idea why she seem to think that if Chase hadn't become a soldier none of this would happened. She was still born violating Article 5, so how did Chase's occupation change that fact baffles me.

Overall, this book was just another cookie-cutter dystopian novel that I don't understand how it managed to get published. I wouldn't recommended it.

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