Codes for Reviews

First Initial (Overall Rating):
E = Exceptional
VG = Very Good
G = Good
F = Fair
NR = Not Recommended

Second Initital (Reading Level):
A = Average Reading Level
E = Easy
M = Mature

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Article 5

General YA Fiction

G/A Simmons, Kristen. Article 5. Tor Teen, 2012. 368p. 978-0-7653-2958-5. $17.99

The U.S.A. has come out of a war that took its toll on many American cities. The regime that grows out of the ashes is scary and totalitarian. The Federal Bureau of Reformation (FBR) now polices the State. The Constitution is rescinded in favor of the Articles, a series of ‘Moral Statutes’ instituted to reinstate order after the war. Failure to comply with the Articles can lead to arrest and worse. Citizens in breach of the Articles disappear and are never heard from again. Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller just wants to keep her head down and not draw attention to herself or her single mother. Her mother, however, is a free spirit and she worries Ember with her subtle attempts at rebellion. One day the FBR or Moral Militia (MM), as they’ve been unofficially nicknamed, come to Ember’s home to arrest Ember’s mother for an Article 5 violation, having a child out of legal wedlock. As if the shock and emotional distress of the arrest wasn’t enough, Ember recognizes one of the arresting FBR soldiers as Chase Jennings, former neighbor and childhood sweetheart. Ember’s mother is taken away and Ember is sent to a ‘rehabilitation’ center. The brutality of the ‘rehabilitation’ center makes Ember fear for what her mother must be going through and she vows to escape to find her mother.

Simmons has written a young adult novel with a salutary warning of what can happen if government is allowed to chip away at civil liberties. However, it would be wrong to think that this is a heavy weight story requiring intense critical thinking. Instead, it's a diverting mainstream dystopian tale, complete with a romance against all odds and characters that have to deal with the challenges of being teenagers under extreme circumstances.  All in all, Article 5 is a successful first installment in what promises to be an engaging series.

Patsy Pinedo Tuck, Eagle Rock Branch, Los Angeles Public Library

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