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Article 5: Compliance is Mandatory    by Kristen Simmons order for
Article 5
by Kristen Simmons
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Kristen Simmons' Article 5 is the first book in a gripping, fast paced new YA dystopian trilogy. It's set in a near future America devastated by war, after which the Bill of Rights was replaced with Moral Statutes, and the rule of law by the power of the military, under orders of the Federal Bureau of Reformation.

Our heroine is seventeen-year-old Ember Miller, who loved the boy next door, Chase Jennings, whom she has not seen since he was drafted. Though the world around her has been changing in disturbing ways, Ember keeps her head down and complies with all the new rules, trying to look out for her rebellious mother, who remebers better times. But there is one rule it turns out that Ember is unable to comply with.

Moral Militia soldiers show up to arrest Ember's mother Lori for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes - that is, for having born Ember out of wedlock. And one of the arresting soldiers is a grim, almost unrecognizable Chase Jennings! Mother and daughter are separated and Ember is taken to a Girls' Reformatory for rehabilitation. Though warned by her new roommate, Ember quickly gets into trouble and is punished viciously.

After getting into trouble again, Ember is saved from even worse punishment by Chase's arrival. They escape together and are on the run from authorities, seeking transport to a safe house in South Carolina. Chase tells Ember that her mother will meet her there. There are dangerous encounters and betrayals and Ember worries about Chase's propensity for violence - he has changed in ways that concern her greatly.

Ember tells herself: 'I could not fall back in love with Chase Jennings. Doing so was like falling in love with a thunderstorm ... violently tempered, unpredictable, and ultimately, short-lived.' But fall in love she does. There are captures and hair-rasing escapes, and Ember comes of age and becomes a stronger, tougher person as she learns the truth of what has happened to her.

As this first thrilling episode ends, Ember and Chase have joined the resistance and are preparing to fight back. I read Article 5 in one sitting and found it in many ways reminiscent of John Marsden's wonderful Tomorrow series. Highly recommended!

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