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The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.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.
Without getting too political, books like Article 5 are scary to me because there are people out there who would legislate their own personal definition of morality to the masses. And while none of them are quite as extreme as the politicians in Article 5 (not outwardly, anyway), it’s all just such a slippery slope. Some things just have no place being legislated by the government. So in a way, Article 5 scared the shnit out of me. Because unlike a lot of other dystopians, I can see the stuff in this book actually coming to pass.
As far as the characters in the book, while I didn’t hate Ember, I did find her kind of hard to stomach. She’s just kind of a downer, to be honest. She flies off the handle ridiculously easy and spends most of her time either pissed at or plotting to run away from one of the only people on the planet who actually seems to give a crap whether she lives or dies and literally THE only person who is willing to put his life at risk to help her. A little gratitude instead of attitude would have probably been justified in this case. And did I hear that saying somewhere or did I just make it up? I hope I didn’t make it up. Anyway, Ember. If the world was to end she’d pretty much be the last person I’d want to be stuck with. Besides her petulance, combativeness, and selfishness, she just makes stupid decision after stupid decision. If it wasn’t for Chase, she’d have been dead pretty early on in the book. Quite frankly, Chase ruled the world and I’m not exactly sure what he saw in Ember. Fortunately I liked his character enough to balance out how much I didn’t like her, because I liked the book overall and I was glad it didn’t fall victim to my “I can’t get past how much I don’t like the main character” issue.
That said, at the end of the book I feel oddly hopeful that Ember has grown as a person and will be a stronger, better character in the next book. I’m looking forward to finding out.