Review Detail3.8 7
I thought Article 5 was supposed to be a dystopian, but having learned NOTHING about the world the protagonist, Ember, lives in, I can’t force myself to label it as such. From what I’ve gathered, there was a war. Why that war was started, who was involved, how the current reigning establishment found itself in power, how an entire nation allowed itself to become governed by a specific Christian-esque religion, and how any person allowed their basic human rights to be completely stripped away, were never explained. We were expected to take this world at face value, without explanation. Had that world made any modicum of sense, I might have been able to shrug off my increasingly growing questions. Unfortunately, I’m unable to picture a future society where I could be sentenced to death for having a child out of wedlock, and so I was unable to suspend any amount of disbelief in order to find such a future plausible.
It definitely didn’t help that Ember was an infuriatingly frustrating protagonist. Holding herself and those around her to high levels of reproach, Ember was absolutely appalled by starving citizens who robbed a dying (re: dead) homeless man of his sweater and shoes and she was disgusted with Chase for attacking men who had been trying to rape her. In a society where someone can be jailed for owning the wrong magazine, am I really supposed to believe that Ember is this innocent? That she has been that sheltered from the lengths people must go in order to protect themselves and those they love? Her decision making process was atrocious; she attributed every failure to Chase and gave herself way too much credit when plotting any deviations from Chases’ plans. Having failed to escape from reform school on her own, how does Ember react to finding out Chase has gone AWOL in order to get her to a safe house? She sulks because he won’t answer all of her questions while he attempts to get them to relative safety. Having just needed Chase to get them out of a tough situation, what does Ember do? Plot to run away. When she finds herself in another situation that she can’t handle and Chase saves her life, again, how does she react? Angry with Chase for not realizing that she hadn’t wandered off, that she had made the conscious decision to run away. **SPOILERS** When she finds out that her mother is dead, and Chase has known since he helped break her out of reform school, does she ask him to explain himself or his motivations? Does she try to see that, while misguided, he was merely doing what he thought was best by keeping her safe? Nope, she slips outside in some sort of daze and gets herself caught by the FBR (Article 5's military). **END OF SPOILERS** I just wanted to strangle the stupid girl.
As for the romance, I think it’s what your enjoyment of Article 5 will hinge on. Most of the development of the relationship is told in flashbacks, which I couldn’t really connect with because I was so bothered by the Ember in the present moment. Personally, I was waiting for Chase to get fed up with this useless and demanding girl, and dump her ass on the side of the road. At one point, he even reminds Ember that he doesn’t need her, unlike how she needs him. Unfortunately, he was just playing the tortured soldier card, waiting for Ember to acknowledge his mistakes and forgive him for letting the army break his soul…or something like that. I really disliked the constant back and forth, with Ember opening up to Chase, only for him to shut her out and for her to believe it was because he no longer cared. It was obvious to anyone who was paying attention that he was merely carrying around a lot of guilt because her mother was already dead and he obviously had a hand in it, so Ember’s constant inability to see past his facade seemed to serve only one purpose: to further the plot. If he was as changed as Ember fooled herself into believing, he wouldn’t have stuck around for all of her whining and petty childishness.
Fortunately for Article 5, though it was too little, too late, for me, we did get to see some character growth from Ember towards the end. While it definitely didn’t make up for the first 4/5 of the book, it was nice to see her acknowledge that she was living in an age where people were going to have to do deceitful things to get by, and that there might be more important things to worry about than her once-relationship with the boy-next-door.