Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Me on Article 5
Author: Kristen Simmons
Release Date: January 31, 2012
Publisher: Tor Teen
Large cities like New York and LA have been abandoned, and the Bill of Rights has been replaced by the Moral Statues. Soldiers instead of police. Arrests instead of fines for bad behaviour. Ember remembers when the world wasn't like that. Living with her rebellious single mother, it's hard to forget that life used to be different. Until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statues, and one of the arresting officers is the only boy Ember ever loved.
Kristen Simmons' debut novel is a glimpse into a dark and brutal future, a rough and ruined world, a world where law is based on morality and a 'one man one woman with children' family structure. Those who don't conform or comply are arrested, put on trial, or otherwise eliminated. This book is the journey of a teenage girl who once flew under the radar and would now do anything to save her mother.
Ember was a certain kind of ruined, flawed character. She struggles to survive day after day, struggles to keep the authorities from finding anything at fault with her and her mother, and once her mother is arrested, she struggles again to escape and find her, to go back to a life with her. She has no idea what's coming, has no idea who's ready to whip her into shape. Or kill her. Her battles are numerous: the government, the rehabilitation school she's sent to, and Chase, a boy she both loves and hates with every fiber of her being.
The Moral Statues are unique in this book, the rules that all citizens but obey, but they raise a number of questions about morality. What actions are considered moral? Who makes the rules? What is someone disagrees? And what constitutes family? What should really happen to someone who breaks one of the rules? Should it be prison, rehabilitation, or even death?
There are rules, moral statues, rehabilitation centers, gender-specific dress codes. There's a loss of choosing what to read and who to live with and what you can do or say in both public and private. The removal of personal freedoms and individuality leads the world in this book towards a dystopia. A cookie cutter society, plan and processes set in motion to make everyone look the same, act the same, think the same. Of course, if the opposite were to happen it might lead to anarchy, but there has to be a line, and once you cross it the only way to go back, in my experience, is revolution.
Everything is ruined in Article 5. This is possibly the darkest dystopian I've read in a while. I could almost see the ruined cities, the smell of death and destruction and gunpowder. The brutality might surprise readers, but still an intriguing story and a world I hope I never have the pleasure of encountering.
(I received an advance copy to review from Raincoast Books.)