Release Date: Already out in US / March 2012 AU
Publisher: Tor Teen / Pier 9
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon / Book Depository
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The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.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.
Set in a post-war future, Article 5 offers a brutal and devastating new reality. When the Federal Bureau of Reformation (MM for short - Moral Militia) come knocking on Ember Miller's door, she is rightfully terrified. Her single mother has apparently violated one of the newly instated Moral Statues - Article 5 - which outlaws the birth of a child when a man and woman are not married. Her mother is forcefully dragged away and Ember is thrown into a girls reform school. One where whippings and violence against teenage girls is not frowned upon. Alone and fearful of her mother's safety, Ember must learn to navigate this terrifying world on her own and decide who is friend, who is enemy and how far she is willing to go to survive.
I loved that Ember stood up for herself. In a world where it's safer to submit to the hand of those holding a gun to your head, Ember stands with her chin held high. It's so easy to sympathise with her desperation to find her mother. She's witnessed first-hand the violence soldiers are happy to use on people her own age, so she can only imagine what they're doing to her mother, the one responsible for the violation. Ember's always been the strong one, always her mother's rock or taking charge when necessary. So for her to have no idea where she is or what they're doing to her, it eats away at her heart. There are few things stronger than a parent-child bond. Ember endures a great deal of torment throughout the book, physically, emotionally and psychologically, but she perseveres on. Sometimes she breaks, in great moments of despair, but you can count on her to get back and keep fighting. She has the spirit of a survivor and a rebel, and that's what I so admire in a protagonist!
The relationship between Ember and Chase was beautifully complex. You could feel the unresolved feelings bubbling like mad, violently threatening to explode any second. But they kept them under a frustratingly good hold. Through flashbacks, we see the boy Chase once was and the sweet, tender relationship he shared with Ember. Compare that with the the present day Chase and the change is heartbreaking. The MM have beaten and broken and tried their best to mould him into the perfect little soldier, but you can see the effect Ember has on him. Her mere presence cracks through the thick walls he has up and touches something rooted deep inside his heart. They both put up barriers against one another, but will either ever let them down? They have their reasons not to. And perhaps one of them is hiding a very troubling secret.
Kristen magnificently captures the brutality of a twisted post-war America. You'll often be sitting there with eyes wide, mouth agape, shocked by the cruel violence. But that shock quickly turns to absolute rage at those responsible. I love when a book is able to elicit such a reaction of out of me. The messed up rules and regulations make me want to scream. In fact, Kristen evoked a different emotion every step of the way. Whether despair, surprise, heartache or the sweet fluttering of hope. From the very first page, she pulled me into this scary world without a moment to catch my breath and then flung me to and fro and around a new bend without a single warning.
This is the kind of dystopian I love. Where it's physically impossible to set the book down for a second, because you need to see what will happen next. But then it's finished too soon and you're agonising over the painfully long wait until the sequel. Article 5 paints a raw picture of our world twisted into an cruel and ugly future. Lovers of dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels will eat this up and come crawling back on hands and knees, begging for more. Explosive action, heart-clenching romance and suspense so thick, even the MM standard gun can't shoot through it. Article 5 is definitely one of my favourite reads this year!
5/5 Golden Apples!