Review: Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

March 14, 2013 2 - 2.5 Stars, Bad Romance, Dystopia, Kristen Simmons, Nonsensical 18 ★★

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
Series: Article 5 # 1
Published by Tor Teen on January 31, 2012
Genres: Dystopia
Pages: 362
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.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.
My main problem with Article 5 was the very premise upon which it was based.  And without that basic building block of the story in place, everything else falls apart.  The dystopian society portrayed in Article 5 didn’t seem very believable.  What is the purpose of society reverting to a Puritanical moral code?  Who benefits?  In dystopian books, there should be some acceptable rationale behind a radical societal and governmental change.  I didn’t get that from Article 5.  It seemed like the morality police were arbitrarily selected to be society’s rulers.  Violators of the moral “articles” were subject to extreme punishment.  The moral statutes were being violated right and left, but it was never fully explained why some violators were singled out, and some were left alone.  I could have understood if those punished were a threat to the rulers, or if they were weak and a drain on the society’s resources, but unfortunately, we’re never given an explanation.
The romance between the two main characters was not very appealing.  I had a hard time making the connection between old boyfriend Chase and current soldier/possible mean guy Chase.  We’re given occasional flashbacks to the good ol’ days between Ember and Chase, and he seems like a different person today.  There was some romantic tension between Ember and Chase at times, but I think it would have seemed more genuine if they didn’t have a history together and if it was sparked by an initial meeting and attraction.  I didn’t care for Chase, and the eventual explanation for his coldness towards Ember did not ring true for me.  As for Ember, at times she seemed brave and resourceful, but in Chase’s presence she turned into the girl who needs rescuing.  And then, suddenly, she’s brave again.  And so on.

With the possible exception of Becca, secondary characters were little more than cliches.  Becca, however, is not without problems, as she instantaneously morphs from nun to hussy to best friend.  Likewise, her boyfriend transforms quickly from potential murderer to supporter.  But they both fared better than the many soldiers who were portrayed as wanna-be rapists.  That still doesn’t excuse lines like this: “I’m not some three dollar hooker!”  Ugh.

There are plenty of great YA dystopian novels out there, and Article 5, lacking originality and interesting ideas, is not one of them.  I already have the sequel, Breaking Point, checked out from the library.  If it’s worth reading, please let me know!

Review posted at Goodreads and Amazon


18 Responses to “Review: Article 5 by Kristen Simmons”

  1. rivie bleu

    Oh, I’m sorry you didn’t like it. The synopsis sounds a bit like Delirium. Did you read that? Maybe it’s just the main idea that seems familiar.

  2. Kristen Williams

    I’ve yet to read this one due to mixed reviews–seems that book two is getting better reviews but not thinking ill read them in the near future. Great review!

  3. Bookworm1858

    I had really similar feelings to you especially about the worldbuilding-it just didn’t make sense and it made it hard for me to become very invested in what was going on.

  4. Lectus Read

    I always been curious about reading this book but have never planned to buy it. I was waiting to see it in the library, though. But after this review… well, If I do read it, it will be at my own risk!

  5. Kay

    I actually enjoyed this book, but the world building wasn’t good at all. It was actually the main problem I had with the book. We didn’t get any answers about why the society is the way it is now. So frustrating! I haven’t read the second book yet so I can’t help you out there. Hopefully you enjoy your next dystopian read more!

    • Go Flash Go - Read, Rinse, Repeat

      Hi, Kay: Thanks for the comment, and I’m glad you enjoyed the book! It sounds like we had the same problem, but I just got hung up on it, but you were able to put it aside and enjoy the writing. I wish I could do that!


  6. Octavia H

    I’ve told you we are best friends right?!?

    I actually DNF’ed Article 5. I, like you, just couldn’t get into the premise of the book, or the characters for that matter. I actually only made it about 6 chapters in before I called it quits, there are too many good books out there for me to be wasting time.

    -Octavia of Read. Sleep. Repeat.

    • Go Flash Go - Read, Rinse, Repeat

      LOL – yes, still best friends! 🙂

      Now that I’m blogging, I feel like I can’t DNF unless something is AWFUL. And this wasn’t. The reason for that is that I want to write reviews on good and not-so-good books, and I can’t review a book I didn’t finish. Can’t win ’em all!


  7. Tara

    I completely agree!! I read Article 5 during the Hunger Games hype and did not feel it was up to par with anything else out there. I am not even interested in the sequel. :-/

  8. Trish Hannon

    I always appreciate honest reviews especially when it’s carefully pointed out why it didn’t work for you. They can’t all be 5 stars & disappointing books make the great ones feel all the more special when they come.

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