Emily May's Reviews > Article 5

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
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Jan 09, 14

bookshelves: dystopia-utopia, young-adult, arc, 2011, you-annoy-me, bloody-awful, coverly-love
Read from October 31 to November 02, 2011



I am very sorry if I gave anyone false hope with my earlier updates on this but I was also misled by the beginning of the book. What seemed like a potentially interesting dystopian world became little more than a roadtrip filled with teen romance and angst. It seems that dystopia is the hottest new setting for romance novels, because really, that's exactly what the author was writing. It was only made into a dystopia because of the current trending of this genre.

I mean, let us ask one of the very basic questions that need to be asked when dealing with a dystopian novel: how and why did this alternate world happen? How did we get from the world we know to one where people are sent to "rehabilitation centres" for being born out of wedlock, amongst other things? And why? Is it the religious right, especially the so-called "radical feminists" that seem to hate women more than care about them? There are some elements that are very The Handmaid's Tale-ish, such as the idea that women are seen as inferior, that they are expected to be chaste and submissive to their husbands. But there is honestly no explanation. There's talk of Reformation Acts and various Articles but nothing to suggest why or how it happened. When did things change? Was the old government overthrown or manipulated from within? I haven't a clue.

My first impressions of the novel were actually quite grim but I was distracted for a while with some shocking violence and the general unfairness of it all. I should have listened to my original gut instinct when I read in the first chapter about Ember's lifelong crush on Chase and encountered various poor phrases that didn't make sense. In chapter one! At least put the stuff that doesn't quite make sense in the densest part of your novel where I'm less likely to notice it. I'm hoping careless things like this will be sorted out in the final version:

"One of the soldiers had short brown hair that grayed around his temples, and wrinkles around the corners of his mouth that made him appear too old for his age."

What's that? You can't see what's wrong with that sentence? Well, what's wrong is that the story is written in 1st person and the narrator has never met the guy before in her life. How on earth does she know how old he is? He could be ninety and just look really good for his age! Am I being too picky? Maybe, but this is basic stuff, right? I'm sure many authors believe that the young adult genre is the easy option, that it requires far less effort and lower quality writing... they fill their plots with action scenes, shock factor and lusty romance, and forget all about stuff like world building and characterisation. These things form the very foundations on which a novel is built - they cannot be simply disregarded in favour of a cheap thrill. It will never support a full-length novel.

Also, the protagonist became increasingly annoying and useless as the plot moved along. It wasn't a great message, to be honest. In a world that doesn't care much for women, a strong female protagonist is a must, but her initial bravery and need to save her mother died out and she became gradually more idiotic and ridiculous. Why is there so much morality, anyway? I'm serious. If someone is going to kill you, it's human nature to defend yourself as much as possible, but Ember berates Chase for attempting to strangle a guard who would have otherwise killed him and raped her.

Ember: "You almost killed that guy! You would have if I didn't stop you."

Chase: "They were going to hurt you."

Ember: "So that makes it okay?"

Me: YES!!!! Of course it bloody well does!!!

Do these heroines know nothing about self-preservation? There may be a religious element to the story but sometimes "love thy enemy" is just going to get you killed. Ember is a really stupid character all round. I hate it when really ridiculous things happen in order to move the plot in a certain direction but just end up sounding so unrealistic, like when Ember decides to leave Chase. The only reason she runs away is so the author can slip in another shock tactic. It's like "oh, I don't feel safe with Chase now he's a soldier", so she runs away, bad stuff happens, Chase finds her, and she's all "oh well, Chase is here so I'm safe now..." Are you effin' kidding me? This happens an awful lot... Chase is evil one minute so she runs away or does something equally stupid that gets them all in trouble because she can't possibly stay with him, then they're reunited and it's all wonderful again without a single thought for why she abandoned him in the first place!

By the way, why does Ember keep saying that none of her troubles would have happened if Chase hadn't become a soldier? What would that have to do with anything because she still would have been born out of wedlock and her mother would still have been arrested? Bizarre.

There are some parts in this book where Chase orders Ember around and he even shakes her at one point. The thing is, in any other novel I would have started a rant about misogyny and glorifying control-freak boyfriends... but how could I do that here? Because if it had been a woman who shouted at and shook Ember, I would have congratulated her on not standing for Ember's endless stupidity... so maybe it's me who has a warped view of gender relations? My point being that I never thought for one second that Chase's actions were unjustified.

And so most of the novel is a romance with an annoying heroine... but is it really only worth 1 star? Can't those moments of heated sexual tension persuade me to give it 2 at least? The answer: no. Because the romance itself quickly became irritating with lots of chick flick moments where they both get wounds that have to be patched up... guess where this is going... and they have to remove their shirts and "wow, would you look at those soldier muscles!" Ick. So so much of the teen love angst could have been resolved if they'd sat down and had one conversation instead of pretending they didn't want to jump one another's bones. How annoying.

Many thanks to the publisher for kindly providing a copy of this for review.
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Reading Progress

10/31/2011 page 97
26.0% "Not a stand-out novel yet but I can't stop reading..."
11/01/2011 page 151
41.0% "If you were hoping for no romance then this isn't the dystopia for you. However, as dystopian romances go, this is one of the best. There is other stuff going on too... and Chase actually makes my heart flutter a little :D" 4 comments

Comments (showing 1-50 of 78) (78 new)


Ariana I am waiting for this book. Can't wait to see what you think of it, I hope you like it;)


Emily May It sounds really good! I just hope it's better than some of the other dystopian fiction I've read recently :)


Ariana That's what I thought too, and I like the cover.
These days I'm lowering my expectations because I hate disappointment and so far it worked ;)) I'll keep an eye on your updates for this one :)


Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!* Ack, too bad. This is on my to-read list and I thought it sounded interesting. I might try to read it anyway, but it seems that you and I typically have the same opinion about books. :]

I feel the same way as you do about the dystopian genre nowadays. Most of them are just silly romances hiding behind the label of "dystopia" because they want to ride on the coattails of The Hunger Games ... Recently, the only dystopian series I've truly loved was the Chaos Walking trilogy (which I think you've read?) Other than that, I've found most of the recent additions to the genre rather disappointing.


Giselle Oh nooo. I was looking forward to this one.


Emily May I absolutely loved the Chaos Walking trilogy! Since that I've enjoyed a couple of dystopias but a ridiculously large amount have been so disappointing :(

If you're okay with teen love stories then you might like this but I have to warn you, it's more than 80% romance.


Emily May Giselle wrote: "Oh nooo. I was looking forward to this one."

Me too. I thought with a cover like that it would be far more dystopian than some of the books I've read recently... but no, it's all teen romance :(


Giselle Ugh that's so disappointing. At least you read it first so I didn't have to suffer through it! :P


message 9: by Tatiana (new) - added it

Tatiana Yep. Very sad. And annoying, judging by your review.


message 10: by Jessica (new) - added it

Jessica Well damn. I'm disappointed, but can't say I don't mind not having to read it.


Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!* Emily wrote: "I absolutely loved the Chaos Walking trilogy! Since that I've enjoyed a couple of dystopias but a ridiculously large amount have been so disappointing :(

If you're okay with teen love stories then..."


Woot! Yeah, I feel like Chaos Walking is a hard one for other dystopias to live up to...

Hmm. It really depends on the story. I like romance when it's well-executed and not too over the top, and if the main characters actually develop a relationship rather than just "loving" each other at first sight. 80% romance sounds like overkill, but I'll try to give the book a shot nevertheless. Thanks for the warning. ;)


message 12: by Regina (last edited Nov 02, 2011 07:38AM) (new)

Regina Dystopian and post-apocalyptic books that do not explain what happened or alternatively fail to have a reason/message for the story of the book (I'll take either) are just books that I cannot handle or do not want to read. Thanks for your review, I am crossing this off my list.


Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!* That's an issue I have with a lot of dystopia, too. I have a lot of trouble believing the premises in most cases. Like, "Wait ... why the hell did they all think this was a good idea?" And there's usually no explanation for how it came to be. :/


Ariana Pff.. and I was waiting for it, damn it!
And if this is worse than Delirium there's just no hope *sigh*


Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!* I actually enjoyed Delirium ... although more for the writing than the plot.


message 16: by Ariana (last edited Nov 02, 2011 09:06AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Ariana I liked the writing too, but that was not enough unfortunately.
For me Delirium was mostly another story about some impossible romance in an unrealistic dystopian world (but there's potential in there, so maybe I'll like better the sequel).


Giselle I just got this in the mail today haha. I scared!


Ariana I would think: "oh, well, let's forget about the dystopian world, let's enjoy the romance".. and maybe there is hope after all :))


Giselle Since I know what to expect maybe I'll like it more.


Emily May I hope it works for you more than it did me, Giselle :)


Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!* Ari wrote: "I liked the writing too, but that was not enough unfortunately.
For me Delirium was mostly another story about some impossible romance in an unrealistic dystopian world (but there's potential in t..."


That's true. But I thought it was an improvement to the clichéd plot––unlike, say, Matched which I didn't really care for.


Ariana Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!* wrote: "But I thought it was an improvement to the clichéd plot––unlike, say, Matched which I didn't really care for. "

I guess that's right. I didn't read "Match" but after all the bad reviews I've seen I have no interest in it.

My problem with this kind of books is:

1. the dystopian world they describe doesn't make much sense or there is not enough development in there.

2. ok, so the world doesn't make sense, let's have a good romance then, something to hold on to.. but even that is most of the times underdeveloped or silly.
(view spoiler)

3. if we don't have the 2 of the above, then please let's have some great action to keep us moving (in fact I could live with a lot of action and no romance at all)
(view spoiler)

Anyways this is only how I see this, other people might be interested in other things or interpret them differently. :)


Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!* Haha, I see what you mean. I feel the same way about a lot of dystopian books nowadays.

Have you tried reading Blood Red Road? (If I recall correctly, Emily read and liked it also...) I thought it was really good. The action was actually good and consistent, and the romance was more well-developed than in most dystopian books, in my opinion. Also the main character is really cool and has a distinct voice. :]

As for other dystopian books, I'm also a big fan of the Chaos Walking books and The House of the Scorpion. I'm sure there are others but those are the ones that pop into my head.


Ariana I keep hearing about Chaos Walking (and a lot of good things) and I have "The Knife of Never Letting Go" on my to-read list, I should probably get to it already.

Also I'll check to see what's "Blood Red Road" about. I haven't heard of it so far.
Thanks for the suggestions :D


Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!* Chaos Walking is just phenomenal in my opinion! Hope you enjoy it. :)

Ah, well I think you should check it out. No problem! ;)


Emily May I'm a bit late to this conversation lol but Ari, you really should read both The Knife of Never Letting Go and Blood Red Road, they're very different but both great books IMO.


Shellie Cruz I've had my eye out for this one for a while but they didn't have any ARC's left =( sucks that you didn't like it it looks so promising


Emily May Yeah, I expected some real dystopia this time but it looks like every author is using the genre as another backdrop for romance :(


Jenelle Ha! I totally agree! And you said it so much better than I did! :)


Ariana I'll start reading this soon. I will make myself think this is a romance and not a dystopian story, maybe I will like it a bit more this way.
Who knows, having low expectations might be a good thing this time.


Emily May Thanks Jenelle!

And Ari, I think that may be the trick to enjoying this book more. It's just that cool dystopian cover that had me fooled that this might be more than just a love story :(


Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker OMG.. Emily, why did I not read your review before I read this book? You hit every single rant I have about this book. If I copy and paste your review, would that be bad? LOL... just kidding. Anyways... great review.. just wish I saw it before I read the book.


Emily May Thanks Michelle :) I was reading your updates earlier and it brought back painful memories, thought I'd better not comment though because you might have loved it toward the end... I just can't believe everyone else seems to like it so much :/ Are we missing something?


message 34: by Has (new) - rated it 1 star

Has Oh man, this makes me disappointed. I have preordered the book because I thought the premise sounded great but this makes me wary now :(


Emily May Try it, Has, there are so many more positive reviews than negative ones. This just really didn't do it for me.


message 36: by Has (new) - rated it 1 star

Has Oh I will but right now I may push it back further in my tbr I am getting a bit burned out on YA and I don't want to get burned out LOL - although saying that I read a really good YA last night :D


Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker Emily wrote: "Thanks Michelle :) I was reading your updates earlier and it brought back painful memories, thought I'd better not comment though because you might have loved it toward the end... I just can't beli..."

I have no clue what others see in this book because my irritation with Ember was so great that I can't begin to understand how any reader could find her worthy of a romance or a happy ending. I knew I was in trouble when I hoped she'd get caught and killed. Like she was the bad guy!


Ariana Oh, next time I will trust your ratings more. I just couldn't read past 30% or so of the book.
I didn't like this girl, I didn't like that boy (a soldier that can't kill my a$$, how did he become one if so), the world made no sense with those soldiers sleeping with girls at the reformatory (but hey, you can't have a baby without having a husband, so why did she get in there?) and the list goes on and on...
Stupid cover, you've tricked me into reading this.. I hate you even though i like you!


message 39: by Brandi (new) - added it

Brandi Thanks for the great review! I was so looking forward to this, and now I doubt I will read it. If I do it certainly won't be on the day it's released.

I imagined this was going to be a bit like Unwind but now I'm just disappointed. Again. I love the point you made when you said that dystopia is the new setting for romance novels.


Emily May Thanks Brandi :)


message 41: by Simeon (last edited Feb 25, 2012 10:30PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Simeon This book is like a possible post-apocalyptic future where Santorum or Michelle Bachman is president. Idk why an explanation would be necessary.

Completely agree about the whole morality thing though. Made me laugh.


message 42: by Ali (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ali I'm not one to pick apart everything in a book, so I loved this.


Emily May In my opinion, no amount of picking and searching could find anything good about this book. But thanks for sharing your thoughts.


message 44: by Ali (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ali That was sort of the point... if you're the type to nitpick over things, maybe its not for you. I just wanted an entertaining book, and I quite loved this.


Emily May I'm glad you liked it. But having high standards is not a bad thing, either. I read a lot of dystopian YA books and, as I see it, this was one of the worst. You don't seem to be okay with negative opinions of this book... may I suggest you go back to the main page and read the positive ones instead?


message 46: by Rene (new) - rated it 2 stars

Rene I agree with absolutely everything you said. I really disliked Ember and never really saw any redeeming qualities until the end of the book. Of course, her stupidity caused all the trouble for that scenario too.


Emily May Thanks Rene :) Ember really was insufferable.


message 48: by Tait (new) - rated it 1 star

Tait I now understand this review. When I read it before reading the book I felt it was harsh. Now that I have finished I largely agree with the opinions you brought to light. Thank you.


Emily May No problem, I felt a harsh tone was necessary for this one :)


Michael I was reading the acknowledgments and Simmons stated that her author told her to cut "these 50 pages". Personally I would have loved to see what was in them. There were many big ideas in the book, and I get the feeling that she may have been forced to put more emphasis on the romantic parts of the book by her publisher and editor.


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