Published: January 31, 2012 by Tor Teen

Pages: 362

Series: Article 5, #1

Genre: Dystopian

Favorite quote: “You married me while I was sleeping?” I asked in amazement. They sky was beginning to bruise with the purple haze, and in it, I could see Chase’s face glow a little deeper copper.
“You hit me for kissing you. It seemed in my best interest to marry you while you were passed out.”

I spotted this in Barnes & Noble the other day. The cover is intriguing: a crumbling, ash-covered city with the tagline “Compliance is mandatory.” I grabbed it and flipped over to the back, and read the Articles.

“Article 1: The United States embraces the Church of America as her official religion.

Article 2: Literature and other media considered immoral are hereby banned and shall not be owned, bought, sold, or traded in any capacity.

Article 3: Whole families are to be considered one man, one woman, and child(ren).

Article 4: Traditional male and female roles shall be observed.

Article 5: Children are considered valid citizens only when conceived by a married man and wife.”

After that, I HAD to read this book.

America has done away with the Bill of Rights and replaced it with the Moral Statutes. Any violation will lead to a citation or even an arrest. It’s a crime just to hold hands if you aren’t married. The government has no mercy.

Ember is seventeen and knows how to pass as compliant. She’s got to be, because she’s the only one around to take care of her rebellious mother. But then the Moral Militia show up on her doorstep, and they arrest her mother for violating Article 5. Ember was born out of wedlock.

She is arrested as well, by none other than her childhood love, Chase. She is taken to a rehabilitation center, and her world is completely turned upside down.

The book starts off quickly and does really well for a while, but around page 126 I started to skip ahead. There are some scenes I think the book could’ve done without. It began to be predictable: there’s a problem, Ember gets herself into more trouble, Ember is rescued. Rinse and repeat. I had to force myself to finish it.

I can’t decide if I love or hate Ember. She’s a very flawed character. She’s naïve, immature, and obsessed with Chase. She stands up for others, but to the point where she nearly gets herself killed. Is that bravery or stupidity? I say stupidity. On the other hand, she’s dealing with things that are just so chilling and horrific that I’m surprised she’s still sane at the end of the book. She has a lot of character growth. By the end I felt that she was practically a different character. But I still consider her a weak character. I don’t think she managed to get out of any situation by herself.

The world-building feels very real. It’s easy to imagine the United States like this.

Two things I would like to see more of:

1) How is the government able to prosecute people for past crimes, before the War? Why even bother?

2) Backstory. All we know is that there was a terrible war that lasted five years. The book takes place three years after the War ended. How did the government just change everything? Where were the lawyers, the riots, the liberal activists, the protests, the backlash – three years and it’s all gone down the toilet? Or did they all flee to Canada?

I feel like Article 5 could’ve done better. I’d still recommend it because its serious tone and idea is brilliant. I’d recommend it to any dystopian reader looking for something more serious, with a love story tossed in.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars