by Kristen Simmons
January 31, 2012
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New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.
The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.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.
This book was both intriguing and terrifying for me to read. The world that Kristen Simmons has created is a scarily-possible future that has become uber-puritan and is enforcing its new rules with an iron fist.
I would not do well in this society. Let me just tell you that much.
The story follows Ember, a teenage girl whose mother has just been arrested for not following one of the new rules, Article 5, and Ember herself has been dragged off to what is basically rehabilitation school for her association.
What the back of the book doesn't tell you--and what was probably one of the most terrifying things about the book--is what Article 5 actually is.
Article 5 is the new rule that forbids women from having children out of wedlock.
And since Ember's mother wasn't married when she had her--seventeen years ago!--she gets carted off for breaking the law, and since Ember is under the age of eighteen, she is also guilty by association. And one of the arresting officers is the boy she's been in love with all her life.
This was a hard book for me to read at times. It was excellent, don't get me wrong, but seeing a glimpse of a world like that--one where pretty much all the freedom we have gained as females throughout the decades has been lost--really made me shake. Add that to the fact that females are now branded as the enemy, as temptresses...yeah. I would not do well in this society.
I liked seeing how Ember dealt with it, though, and how she interacted with Chase as he re-enters her life at the lowest point of it. Their relationship is complicated and there were times where I wanted to throttle both of them, but that's what made the characters real. They were flawed people who were dumped in this terrible situation, and they're just doing whatever they can to survive.
This was an excellent read, and it's going to stick with me for quite awhile.
I can't wait to see where the author goes with the sequel.