Book Review: Article 5 by Kristen Simmons (with BREAKING POINT ARC Giveaway)
There were two cars parked on the street, a blue van and a smaller car that looked like an old police cruiser. On the side of each was the FBR emblem. I didn’t need to read the motto below to know what it said: One Whole Country, One Whole Family. It always gave me a little jolt of inadequacy, like my little two-person family wasn’t whole enough.
There was someone in the driver’s seat of the van, and another soldier outside on the sidewalk in front of our house. As I watched, the back of the van opened and two more soldiers hopped out on to the street.
Something was wrong, There were too many soldiers here just to fine us for violating a Statute.
My mom returned to the door, digging through her purse. Her face was flushed. I stepped shoulder to shoulder with her and forced my breath to stead.
She found her wallet and pulled out her ID. Bateman checked it quickly before stuffing it into the front pocket of his shirt. Conner lifted a paper I hadn’t seen him holding, ripped off the sticky backing, and slapped it against our front door.
The Moral Statutes.
“Hey,” I heard myself say. “What are you-“
“Lori Whittman, you are under arrest for violation of the Moral Statutes, Section 2, Article 5, Part A revised, pertaining to children conceived out of wedlock.:
“Arrest?” My mom’s voice hitched. “What do you mean?”
My mind flashed through the rumors I’d heard about sending people to prison for Statute violations, and I realized with a sick sense of dread that these weren’t rumors at all. It was Katelyn Meadows all over again.
“Article 5!” Ryan blurted out from behind us. “How could that apply to them?”
“The current version was revised on February twenty-fourth. It includes all dependent children under the age of eighteen.”
“February twenty-fourth? That was only Monday!” Beth said sharply.
Conner reached across the threshold of our home and grabbed my mother’s shoulder, pulling her forward. Instinctively, I wrapped both hands around his forearm.
“Let go, miss,” he said curtly. He looked at me for the first time, but his eyes were strange, as if they didn’t register that I was present. I loosened my hold but did not release his arm.
“What do you mean ‘arrest’?” My mother was still trying to process.
“It’s quite clear, Ms. Whittman.” Bateman’s tone was condescending. “You are out of compliance with the Moral Statutes and will be tried by a senior officer of the Federal Bureau of Reformation.”
After the War, the United States gave license to the Moral Militia and it’s enforces, the Federal Bureau of Reformation. People have defined gender roles, ways of dress and acting, and those not conforming to the ever-changing rules and Moral Statutes can be fined. Or worse. Rumors have people arrested, then disappearing and never coming back. When Ember’s mother is arrested for having 17 year-old Ember out of wedlock, Ember fights back and is sent to the Reformation House to be rehabilitated into a model citizen- through classes, torture and assault. Making it worse is that Ember is the one who let loose her mother’s secret- months ago, to her boyfriend Chase, who enlisted in the FBR after they broke up. Yet when Chase shows up to take her to her mother’s trial, he breaks her free and they try and find the underground movement used to keep violators safe. Ember cannot tell who to trust, and what is real.
First in a planned trilogy, Article 5 gives a jarring account of what can happen when the freedoms we take for granted are taken away. Women are forced into dresses, people are forced into certain jobs and roles, and above it all is the FBR, an evil moral Big Brother that changes the rules every so often and has the power to make you disappear. Chase, Ember’s former boyfriend, has been so broken by the FBR that Ember is never sure whether to trust him or not, but yearns for the connection that they had and she threw away months ago. And Chase is throwing everything away just to see Ember safe. Extremely graphic at times, with abuse, torture, and sexual assault, it is not for the faint of heart reader, but I would definitely recommend it for those in love with books like Starters or the Delirium series. 3.5 out of 5 stars. As of July 24, 2013, Goodreads has Article 5 listed as 3.8 stars.
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From the publisher:
Near-celebrities now for the increasingly sensationalized tales of their struggles with the government, Ember and Chase are recognized and taken in by the Resistance—an underground organization working to systematically take down the government. At headquarters, all eyes are on the sniper, an anonymous assassin taking out FBR soldiers one by one. Rumors are flying about the sniper’s true identity, and Ember and Chase welcome the diversion….Until the government posts its most-wanted list, and their number one suspect is Ember herself.
Filed under: Article 5, Book Reviews, civil liberties, Dystopian, Kristen Simmons
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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