Article 5 a first novel by Kristen Simmons starts off with a promising premise. Things have gone very wrong in the United States with right-wing fear-mongering moralists having taken over the country. The Bill of Rights has been replaced with Moral Statutes. There are no Constitutional rights and soldiers arrest those accused of violating the Moral Statutes without due process.
Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller’s mother was arrested for having a child out of wedlock. One of those who arrested Ember’s mother was Ember’s childhood sweetheart, Chase Jennings, now a soldier for the new government. Ember is sent to a reformatory to be re-educated; “become a subservient female”, the law now dictates.
Sadly, the book veers towards a Harlequin romance novel soon after. Chase rescues Ember from the girl’s reformatory (in the nick of time; something that occurs often in the novel) and the majority of the rest of the novel is an escape/rescue mission with Chase doing the heavy lifting and Ember pining for her long-lost love.
Page after page Ember throws fits, pouts, smolders with resentment for Chase. And then, two pages later, her heart beats as if it will explode from her chest with love for Chase. She flushes and blushes and craves Chase’s touch. She vacillates back and forth whether to hate Chase or love him. The repetition grows weary and we see Ember as a weak-willed teenager, far too much like Bella of the Twilight Saga. Worse, for most of the book Ember is helpless, needing to be saved by her lover. She repays such gestures with resentment towards Chase.
Not until the very end of the novel (if then) does Ember come to embrace the new world she is a part of. When Chase rescues her from two would-be rapists she is repulsed by Chase’s use of violence. Even at the end when holding a gun on a soldier who committed a heinous crime (no spoilers here) and wants to ravage him, Ember herself she can’t fire. She won’t stoop to his level. She spares him. She conveniently forgets that by allowing him to live many others will suffer at his hands.
The ending is a bit too pat, too convenient, too contrived. And, sad to say, this is the first book in a planned trilogy.
For those wanting chaste romance (a passionate kiss is as far as it goes) Article 5 is up your alley. As for exploring an interesting premise in a dystopian United States… forgetaboutit.
(1 Star out of 5)