Imagine a world ravaged by war and taken over by the religious right. This is the dystopic future of Kristen Simmons Article 5. Sometime in the not so distant future the United States has lost a war with foes unknown. The outcome of that war is that the moral majority takes over and takes away the civil liberties of the population. Sounds scary and just a little bit possible doesn’t it? This is the world of Ember. She is a regular 17-year old worried about mom, school, friends. Then she comes home one day and the Moral Militia are arresting her and her mom for article violations. Why? Because her mom became pregnant without being married. Ember is a bastard. Doesn’t matter that it happened long before the MM took over. They are still arrested and taken away. Ember has no idea what happens to her mom; she is taken to a reform school with a bunch of other girls like her. Then her childhood love, Chase, who now belongs to the MM comes and rescues her. They embark on a race to find a safe place in a world that is hunting them.
We don’t learn a whole lot about the war or the group that brought about this dystopian power. Now most of the time I would rage about the lack of world building and how it makes the book weaker, but in this case it is ok. The present time of the world is developed enough that I don’t think you need the whole back story of the world. It makes it scarier in my opinion to leave parts up to your own imagination. The articles themselves are pretty interesting and don’t seem that out of the realm of possibility: you have to worship the one religion; family is defined as man, woman, children; you can only read appropriate materials; you have to behave morally; etc. Seems like things you hear about in present day. Of course the military isn’t killing you if you violate any of these right now. I thought the MM coming in and cleansing towns and people was also a really interesting idea and well thought out. I can just see this systematic taking over of the country. I also liked the rebellion because of course there will be a rebellion. Not everyone is going to fall in line.
I think my biggest issue with this book was the main character. Ember is a really hard character to like or root for. She is whiny and stupid for most of the book. She is 17 so you would think she would be a little smarter and she is about some things but then she is really stupid and naive. Her relationship with Chase is one example. They were in love, he joins the military (because he is drafted and has no choice), he is there when she and her mom are arrested, he rescues her, but then she runs away from him and doesn’t trust him several times even though he has shown no reason for this. I didn’t get her motivation for most of the book and she really didn’t grow into a decent character until about the last 50 pages or so. If I was Chase I probably would have left her on the side of the road. Chase was a great character. You could see his conflict and his determination to do what is right. He was a character I could root for.
Of course there were things about the book that were very predictable as well. The storyline with the mom was so predictable I couldn’t believe it. I was waiting for the twist throughout the whole book because I couldn’t believe it would be so obvious, but it was. I couldn’t believe Ember didn’t ask more questions or pick up on the signs or that situation. The MM was also very one dimensional. I wish we could have seen a little bit more from the bad guys. However, I like where this world is going and I will probably read the next book in the series.