Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Series Review: Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

In 2013, I was still a newcomer to YA fiction. I had taken a couple years off reading for fun (because of school) and was excited to come back to it, especially since I had just moved in with some girls who seemed to love reading as much as I did. In our first few months together, one roommate recommended Article Five by Kristen Simmons to me and I gratefully took her up on it. Having little experience with YA dystopian fiction, I was pretty impressed with the intensity of the novel and excited to read more. However, as time went on, I realized that this book was not nearly or fun as I’d originally thought and my interest waned as I finished the trilogy.
The description of the first book (pulled from Goodreads) is as follows:
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The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.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.

Honestly, it took me some time and research to remind myself what happened in this series and I realized that I didn’t really miss it and that, in hindsight, it was not nearly as wonderful as I originally thought it was. But here I am today to tell you both the pros and cons of this book.
First, the pros:
  • INTENSE - My favorite thing about this series is that it starts off on an intense note and never really stops. It’s a dark and action-packed ride (with plenty of plot twists and suspense) and that made it a fun and exciting read. This is more intense than some other dystopian series I’ve read. The emotions are always at a record high and the stakes are always as high as they can be. For me, this was rewarding and fun - especially during the first book.
  • DECENT BACKSTORY - While many dystopian novels don’t explain how the world got from how it is today to being terrible and dark, this book did a good job of showing how things used to be and how they changed so much in such a short time. I appreciated this, since most YA dystopias seem to skip this step entirely.

And now, the cons:
  • FLAT CHARACTERS - Ember and Chase (the main characters) are your typical YA stars - she’s perfect and good at everything and everyone loves her and wants her to fall in love with them and he’s brooding and dark and tortured and really good at combat. They were nothing special in my mind and I enjoyed the story much more than I enjoyed the characters.
  • TYPICAL DYSTOPIA - I cannot stress how much this was just like every other YA novel I’ve read. As I think about it, I’m having trouble distinguishing this from Unwind by Neal Shusterman and Delirium by Lauren Oliver (and probably a bunch of other YA books I can’t think of right now because they were so boring and stereotypical). There is really nothing that stands out about this book except that it was the first real dystopian YA book I ever read, so it paved the road for my thoughts about all the ones I read later.
  • TOO INTENSE? - I’m not sure if this was a pro or con for me. Maybe a bit of both. At first, the intensity was fun and intriguing. By the third book, I was exhausted. I couldn’t afford to have my emotions running so high the whole time I read. Honestly, I was a little relieved when it ended - finally, I could relax a little and read something calming.

Have you read this series? Do you agree with my opinions on it? Are you as sick of dystopian YA novels as I am?

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