Reynje's Reviews > Article 5

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
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Mar 10, 12

bookshelves: dystopia, read-2012, young-adult
Read from March 04 to 05, 2012

“Dystomance” doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon, and the appetite for YA romance playing out against a backdrop of government oppression remains healthy, judging by the titles storming my goodreads feed. I’ve had varying degrees of success with this particular subgenre, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I prefer those where the romance takes a back seat to the plot and worldbuilding. It’s a personal preference, but I find that the opposite scenario, with the romance centre stage and the world set up to fuel romantic angst, makes for less of a satisfying reading experience.

So while I approached Article 5 with some trepidation, and I would still shelve it along with its apocalyptic and dystopian romance companions, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I liked this book. I don’t love it and it’s not without issues, primarily of the worldbuilding variety, but this is a solid contender with more substance than a case of tru luv gone awry.

Lately, it only takes accessing the internet or broadly keeping up with global political developments to see that Simmons’ vision of an ultra / neo-conservative (thanks Angela!) United States is not exactly unimaginable. While the book is somewhat sketchy on the rise of this government, the Moral Statues and the war that preceded, the underlying ideas make for a plausible, interesting premise. If the book is rather lacking in explanation (and it is), it does a decent job of creating a stifling atmosphere of control and surveillance by a regressive right-wing government.

During a systematic sweep of the nation to reinstate strict moral codes and “reform” it’s citizens to traditional gender and family roles, Ember Miller and her mother fall afoul of “article 5” of the Moral Statutes, by virtue of Ember’s illegitimacy. Present at their arrest is young officer and Ember’s former neighbour, Chase Jennings, apparently having been completely indoctrinated by the Moral Militia.

The sparseness of back story will doubtless be a major roadblock for some, and that’s understandable. However, to Simmons’ credit, she has crafted a compelling dynamic between the main characters that keeps the book engaging.

Rather than relying on an instant connection born out of inexplicable chemistry, Ember and Chase’s relationship is tied to their shared history and complicated by their present circumstances. Ember is an impulsive, scared teenager fearing for the life of her mother and her own safety. Chase is a conflicted young soldier suffering the effects of PTSD and a burdened conscience. While the development of their story is predictably hindered by one of my pet peeves – a willful lack of communication – the plot maintains a brisk pace and the focus is not entirely on the will-they-won’t-they element.

The characters are better fleshed out here than some comparable reads of late, and Simmons’ incorporation of mental health issues is insightful without being obtrusive and bludgeoning the reader with cumbersome messaging. Chase, in particular, is strong, well-developed character, gradually revealed in more detail throughout the story. And while Ember was not always a character I cared for, I appreciated the fact that she had agency and motivation independent of the romance subplot. As she gains understanding she becomes a more sympathetic character, and one that I warmed to as her story progressed.

The writing of Article 5 is brisk and even - and as the conduit of Ember’s voice, it’s articulate and aware. It’s a fast paced story and a relatively quick read, with compelling stakes and an ending that avoids cliffhangers, yet leaves the way open for Simmons to further develop her characters and the world they live in.

While I would have preferred more detailed development and solid explanation for the premise, I still found Article 5 held its own in a crowded field, and I look forward to reading the sequel.

This review also appears at The Midnight Garden
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Reading Progress

03/04/2012 page 121
33.0% "I'm seeing pretty mixed reviews - but I've enjoyed the beginning. Fingers crossed!"
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Comments (showing 1-41 of 41) (41 new)

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Surin I just finished Article 5. It wasn't bad but not that great. It reminded me a lot of Legend actually.


message 2: by Reynje (last edited Mar 05, 2012 01:57AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Reynje I had really low expectations, but so far, it's exceeding them :) I mean, it's not amazing, but I like it more than I thought I would.


Angela I just finished this last night!


Reynje Angela wrote: "I just finished this last night!"

Looking forward to hearing what you think Angela :)


Angela I enjoyed it a great deal, though I'm feeling a little sheepish about that given my friends' mostly middling reviews. I'm going with a solid 3.5 star rating out of five, despite some weak worldbuilding and a whole lotta angst. We should discuss when you're done! :)


Reynje Definitely! I'll be finished today some time. I think we may have some similar thoughts on this one :)


Angela Looking forward to it. The author is doing a book visit at our local indie bookstore on Wednesday night, so I might have more fodder for discussion after that, too.


Surin Angela wrote: "I enjoyed it a great deal, though I'm feeling a little sheepish about that given my friends' mostly middling reviews. I'm going with a solid 3.5 star rating out of five, despite some weak worldbuil..."

Totally agree with the angst! It was just too much towards the end. :(


Angela SL wrote: "Angela wrote: "I enjoyed it a great deal, though I'm feeling a little sheepish about that given my friends' mostly middling reviews. I'm going with a solid 3.5 star rating out of five, despite some..."

Though I obviously mentioned the angsty part, it didn't bother me as much as it might in other novels b/c there were enough other things going on to move the book along. I did, however, think upon multiple occasions, "Just to talk to each other, would ya?" ;)


Reynje Angela wrote: "SL wrote: "Angela wrote: "I enjoyed it a great deal, though I'm feeling a little sheepish about that given my friends' mostly middling reviews. I'm going with a solid 3.5 star rating out of five, d..."

I think I feel the same way as you, Angela. The "not-communicating" thing is one of my pet-peeves, but on the whole, I found it less irksome than some other romance-dystopias I've read. It helps also that these two actually knew each other and it's not just a case of a hot new guy showing up to get the heroine all twitterpated.

Also, while the worldbuilding was a bit sketchy in parts, I definitely buy this premise. I thought the ultra-conservative system was a more believable concept than say, The King of America is turning all teenage girls into breeders! (Eve etc)

I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would, and I'll definitely read the next book..


message 11: by Angela (last edited Mar 06, 2012 08:30PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Angela I *do* think we feel the same way on a lot of things in this book. :) Like you, I found the romance better b/c of their past relationship and complicated history, and I was able to forgive the worldbuilding weaknesses b/c I, too, found it believable that a neo-conservative gov't could take over. (Look at tonight's U.S. primary election results if you want further proof of that!)

After I attend the author event tomorrow, I'll let you know if the author gives any hints about the next book and when it might come out. I'm looking forward to reading it, too!


Surin Reynje wrote: "Angela wrote: "SL wrote: "Angela wrote: "I enjoyed it a great deal, though I'm feeling a little sheepish about that given my friends' mostly middling reviews. I'm going with a solid 3.5 star rating..."

Angela wrote: "I *do* think we feel the same way on a lot of things in this book. :) Like you, I found the romance better b/c of their past relationship and complicated history, and I was able to forgive the worl..."

Actually you guys brought up important points I totally missed out in my review lol! I absolutely loved their romance because of their history, it was quite sweet when they got back together like awwwwww. Though the angst between her and Chase didn't bother me that much just her overall angst at life itself.


Angela @SL: Maybe we can all discuss the angst and everything else once we (or do not, depending on our schedules) get reviews up! :)


Reynje Hopefully I'll have mine up today sometime, I'm playing catch up with my reviews but should be up to date soon..


message 15: by Sarah (new)

Sarah I've been so curious about this one, so I'm looking forward to your review.


Angela @Reynje: The author event I attended last for this book was really nice. Even though I didn't love the book (though I did really like it), I would give five stars to its author, Kristen Simmons. She was extremely personable, humble, and interested in the audience members. I was also pleased to hear her say that the mental health issues that arise in the book (PTSD, anxiety, soldiers' dealing with emotional toll of being in the military) were all included very intentionally.


Reynje Oh, interesting! Thanks for sharing - I'm writing my review today and will probably post it tonight.

I like that Chase's character was developed that way - with the real repurcussions of being a soldier incorporated, rather than just romantic angst.

I think the authors background is in mental health/social work, if I recall. It will be interesting to see where she takes this in the next book - I assume it's going to come up more, with Chase dealing with it.


Angela Looking forward to your review!

Yes, the author has a master's degree in social work, and she is (or was) a practicing therapist per what she said last night. She even took out a moment to say a few words about mental illness and stigma and why she included those issues in the book. Then, when I was talking to her afterwards and told her hat I liked how she included those issues in the book without being heavy-handed, esp. about soldiers, she shared that she had worked in a VA/veterans' hospital for 7 years. Because of that, I am sure those things are going to continue to show up in the coming books.

It was also really neat that the book signing was held in Knoxville, TN (where I live) and at the indie bookstore only one block off Market Square -- the exact location for the end of the book. She told us that much of the action in the beginning of the next book will also happen in our area -- albeit a devastated version in the future.


Reynje Angela wrote: "Looking forward to your review!

Yes, the author has a master's degree in social work, and she is (or was) a practicing therapist per what she said last night. She even took out a moment to say a f..."


Very cool - it must make it a lot easier for you to envision, being familiar with the area :)

I'm definitely going to read the sequel. Despite some reservations I preferred this much more than some other recent dystopias.


message 20: by Jo (new)

Jo Dystomance = genius.

Great review, Rey :)


message 21: by Reynje (last edited Mar 10, 2012 02:23AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Reynje Jo wrote: "Dystomance = genius.

Great review, Rey :)"


Conversely, "Romtopian". Heh.

Thanks lovely Jo.


message 22: by Jo (new)

Jo Romtopion reminds me of 'romper suit'.
And now I want to read a book where the inhabitants of the dystopia have to run around in romper suits.

If you don't know what a romper suit is things could get awkward because I have said romper suits an awful lot.


ROMPER SUITS.

#rompersuits


message 23: by Reynje (last edited Mar 10, 2012 02:31AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Reynje #wants

#noreally

#iheartrompers

Also, you should definitely write that novel.

Also, again, are you saying that Romper Stomper is not the movie I thought it was?


message 24: by Jo (new)

Jo I have never heard of that film so I went on imdb...

Holy tattooed pre-Gladiator Russell Crowe, Batman!

#shocked

Oh my goodness, I really should. TO THE LAPTOP.

#onitlikeacarbonnet


Reynje I've never actually seen it myself, I just knew it was part of R-Crowe's back catalogue.

#whatadifferencetwentyyearsmakes

:/


message 26: by Jo (last edited Mar 10, 2012 02:52AM) (new)

Jo Good grief.
Is it like a poor man's American History X?


*braces self for Romper Stomper fans to come crawling out of the woodwork to beat me*

#therewillbeatleastone


Reynje Jo wrote: "Good grief.
Is it like a poor man's American History X?


*braces self for Romper Stomper fans to come crawling out of the woodwork to beat me*

#therewillbeatleastone"


#springstojosdefence


message 28: by Jo (new)

Jo #iloveourbrains


Reynje #braaaaiiiiinnnssss

#zombierey


message 30: by Jo (new)

Jo #zombreyreyrey

#ilovethecranberries


Reynje #runstoyoutube

#the90sFTW


message 32: by Jo (last edited Mar 10, 2012 03:15AM) (new)

Jo #yougotmewrappedaroundyourfingeeeeeer

#doyouhaveto

#doyouhaveto

#doyouhavetoletitlinger

?


Reynje #youknowimsuchafoolforyou


Amy (Turn the Page) Brilliant review! Thanks for pointing out the pros/cons as well. A lot of reviews for dystopia YA just seem to gush about the romance, which I often find lacking. I'm looking forward to reading this :)


Reynje Amy (Turn the Page) wrote: "Brilliant review! Thanks for pointing out the pros/cons as well. A lot of reviews for dystopia YA just seem to gush about the romance, which I often find lacking. I'm looking forward to reading thi..."

Thanks Amy! While this book had it's fair share of romantic angst, I found it much more palatable in this instance. I think it's balanced pretty well with the rest of the plot. Looking forward to hearing what you think!


Angela Oh, this is my first time back here in a few days, and I can't believe I got a shoutout in your review! Thank you! I think your review beautifully summed up what I'll essentially say in mine too, so look for some redundancy on your review radar in the near future. :)


Reynje Angela wrote: "Oh, this is my first time back here in a few days, and I can't believe I got a shoutout in your review! Thank you! I think your review beautifully summed up what I'll essentially say in mine too, s..."

Thanks Angela! Yes, I had to credit you for giving me the term I couldn't quite put my finger on :) Looking forward to your review too.


Angela I look forward to when I can insert new lingo from you into one of my reviews. :)


Michelle I love this review! Also I hope you don't mind but I cited you and your new name for this genre in my review :)


Reynje Maree wrote: "I love this review! Also I hope you don't mind but I cited you and your new name for this genre in my review :)"

Thank you Maree! I'm glad you liked it and I don't mind at all if you want to cite me.. but I'm pretty sure I'm not the first person to use that term :)


Michelle You're the first one I've seen ;)


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