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The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.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.
I’ve read a lot of young adult dystopian novels and Article 5 ranks in the middle of that stack. It’s not in my top favorite but it wasn’t in the bottom either. I enjoyed Article 5 but there some parts of the book that felt familiar. The story was similar to Delirium and Pandemonium, and the romance was reminiscent of the love stories found in countless other YA novels. However, Article 5 has many original traits and can hold it’s own against the YA dystopian masses.
In the world of Article 5, the United States is a country rebuilding its society after a devastating war. Citizens who do not follow the government designated religion, have children out of wedlock, are the children of unmarried parents, rebel against the government, etc are thrown into a reformatory or are killed. The new government of the United States wants to eliminate those who would disagree with or taint their vision of new moral society. In other words, the government is basically putting people in internment camps and committing genocide.
It was hard for me to believe in this world as I can’t picture our country ever turning into this. I wished the author had expanding on more on what happened, besides a war, to make the country turn out like this. Scenes where the war was described were consistently vague. I’m hopping the next book might explain more but I have a feeling it won’t. The first book is usually where the author provides a history for their story.
So what did I like?
Article 5 is fast paced and the action starts right at the beginning and continues all the way to the last chapeter. The story moves along so quickly that any of the things mentioned above become non-issues. I also liked how the main characters, Ember and Chase, grew up together and had a strong bond. Many YA dystopian novels the two main characters meet for the first time and I appreciated this change. It was intriguing to have their history revealed bit by bit as the story moved along. Their relationship had a little bit of mystery behind it and it pulled me in.
The characters have an equal amount of pros and cons. Chase’s character is easy to like and I’m sure teenage girls every where are drooling over him. He’s tall, muscular, handsome, and protective. He’s also self-sacrificing which can be viewed as good and bad. After awhile got tired of him always throwing himself under the bus. While I understand why he is this way and I wished he would stick up for himself just a little bit more.
Ember is also easy to relate to and is smart, most of the time. She has moments of genius when she gets herself (and Chase sometimes) out of trouble. Then she has dumb moments where she walks right into trouble. She also seems to be pretty dense when it comes to recognizing that Chase clearly is in love her. She pushes him away for most of the book and this is as frustrating for the reader as it is for Chase. Ember redeems herself in the end.
I also enjoyed the narration of Jenny Ikeda. I’ve listened to one of her audiobooks before and enjoyed her voice. She has young voice but not too young. Many young adult audiobooks these days have very nasal sounding narrators. Ikeda’s narration is just right.
Overall, I had fun listening to Article 5. It’s fast tempo and resilient characters keep the reader hooked. It’s not my top pick for dystopian novels, but I think other readers who don’t read as many dystopian novels as I do would really enjoy it. I plan on reading or listening to the next book in the series.