Warning: This review may contain spoilers! I will try to keep them to an absolute minimum. Read at your own risk.
Published: January 31, 2012
Publisher: Tor Teen
Rating: 4/5 Stars
"New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.Author: Kristen Simmons
The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.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."~Goodreads
Published: February 12, 2013
Publisher: Tor Teen
Rating: 4/5 Stars
"After faking their deaths to escape from prison, Ember Miller and Chase Jennings have only one goal: to lay low until the Federal Bureau of Reformation forgets they ever existed.
Near-celebrities now for the increasingly sensationalized tales of their struggles with the government, Ember and Chase are recognized and taken in by the Resistance—an underground organization working to systematically take down the government. At headquarters, all eyes are on the sniper, an anonymous assassin taking out FBR soldiers one by one. Rumors are flying about the sniper’s true identity, and Ember and Chase welcome the diversion….
Until the government posts its most-wanted list, and their number one suspect is Ember herself.
Orders are shoot to kill, and soldiers are cleared to fire on suspicion alone. Suddenly Ember can’t even step onto the street without fear of being recognized, and “laying low” is a joke. Even members of the Resistance are starting to look at her sideways.
With Chase urging her to run, Ember must decide: Go into hiding…or fight back?" ~Goodreads
Like everyone else on the planet I make mistakes. In fact, I probably make them more frequently than most people (at least it seems that way). But sometimes those mistakes can have unexpectedly great outcomes. When Article 5 came out last year I didn't have a huge desire to read it. So I decided not to pick it up and I moved on with my literary life. later in the year I requested a book called Breaking Point from Tor Teen who very nicely obliged and sent me a beautiful finished hardback! It was only then that I realized that Breaking Point was the sequel to Article 5 and that I hadn't read it yet. Since they had sent the second book over, I figured the only thing to do was pick up the first one and read them both. After all, it was my mistake. And it was one of the best mistakes ever! I ended up devouring Article 5 and jumping right into Breaking Point. I found myself completely riveted and immersed in Ember's America. I've decided to review both books together since I basically have the same things to say about both of them. I will try to be as spoiler-free as possible, especially when it comes to Breaking Point, but there will be some minor plot points that I have to discuss so consider yourself warned!
- The action doesn't stop: The pacing and action in both books is great. I flew through them at break-neck speed and loved every minute. The America that Simmons has created is full of danger and manipulation which drives the plot along and can be pretty terrifying at times. It's such a realistic, if unlikely, scenario that it was impossible for me not to think about the story even when I wasn't reading it. At times it felt relentless, but not in a boring way, more in an "oh my god, how much more of this can I handle?" sort of way.
- Chase and Ember, the opposite of insta-love: I get a little tired of the usual YA relationships and I love it when there is some conflict and depth there. Chase and Ember are a complex and conflicted pair. On one hand they have grown up together. They were close friends for most of their lives and dated before Chase joined the military. They were in love long before this story began. On the other hand, after Chase became a soldier he arrested Ember and her mother and had her thrown into a reform school while her mother was carted off to God knows where. After they meet up again and come to terms with their unique situation things only get more complicated. Old feelings start to crop up and they only have each other to rely on but there is a cloud of guilt and betrayal that hover just over the horizon throughout these two books. The conflict serves to keep the story interesting and tugs on the heartstrings of the reader. I just loved them. Yes, Chase can go a little alpha-male sometimes, but what is he supposed to do in such a dangerous world? Besides, he is the one with the military training here, so I choose to assume that he serves as the voice of reason because of his experience rather than his gender. Plus, it's not like Ember listens much anyway.
- All of the other characters, especially Sean: Simmons did and excellent job with these characters. Each one of them has their own demons and short-comings but she makes them all seem human. Many of them are loveable despite their issues. A great example is Sean. Sean is a former FBR soldier who meets Ember while she is at reform school. Although he starts out as her enemy, he becomes one of her closest friends. Sean is like the big brother I always wanted. He's funny, brave and gives Ember lots of crap when she needs it. I just loved him and I loved their relationship. There is no romance there. They are just great friends, almost family.
- Where's the history: the only problem that I had with the series is that the history isn't fully explained. Now, the author did write more about what caused the War in the second book but she still doesn't fully explain why the world has ended up this way, or for that matter what the rest of the world looks like. We only see the U.S. I would really love to know how we got here. I'm hoping that this is all fully explained in the next book.
All in all, I absolutely loved these books. I can't wait to continue the series when the next book comes out. To my knowledge there hasn't been an announcement about when that will be, but hopefully we'll know soon. Thanks so much to Tor for sending this one to me! And maybe I should also thank my absent-mindedness since it led me to such and awesome series! Let me know if you've read these as well and what you thought!