The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.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.
Our heroine Ember Miller has perfected the skills of keeping a low profile since she was a kid. But she can never predict the terrible fate that will tear her life apart. When her mother is accused of violating Article 5 (which states that children are considered valid citizens only when conceived by a married man and wife), she is shocked, furious then devastated. She tries fighting back but her attempts prove to be futile against the guns of the military guards and the country's iron vise law. What angers and saddens her most is the fact that her former sweetheart, Chase Jennings, is one of the guards who captures her mother.
Shortly after her mother's capture, Ember is sent to a Reformatory and Rehabilitation Centre which looks more like a jail with all the guards, huge locked gate and a heartless headmistress who starves her and cane her in public until her knuckles bleed. Ember is determined to escape, but there is no way out except the front gate, which is always guarded. At the reform school, she meets a new room mate, Rebecca Lansing. Even though Rebecca always sounds cheery, she actually despises the place. But then, who can blame her? Being as helpful as possible is probably her best way of survival.
Simmons avoids falling into stock characterization — the highly-skilled, kick-ass protagonist who overcomes great odds to achieve success — by emphasizing the distress and anguish Ember feels when she is forced to separate with her mother and is sent to the Reformatory and Rehabilitation Centre. The author also highlights how Ember grows physically and mentally into a tougher person after the various gut-wrenching incidents she endured. Ember and Chase’s success is not guaranteed. In fact, as the novel progresses, it seems quite unlikely, with the MM hot on their heels and the fact that their news is made known to the public.
Ember and Chase's romance is quite plausible under the circumstances; it is the sort of deep-heart love laced with hurt, mistrust and pain. Chase loves Ember more than he loves himself and vows to protect her at all costs. However, Ember remains doubtful of "the soldier" Chase has become. She wants to trust him but she cannot bring herself to believe him all the way. She is repelled by Chase's wanting to kill a man who threatens her life, but I know that he does that only because he is concerned of her safety. But after some time together, they find the courage to confess to each other their true feelings, and I am glad for that. No love should remain buried in our hearts.
“It was you," I say softly. "It's always you I think about."
The intensity in his gaze took my breath away. I could feel him. Every part of him. His soul was sewn to mine. His heated blood flowed through my veins. I'd thought that I had been close to my mother, and I was, but not like this. Chase and I barely touched- our hands, mouths, knees- but there was no part of me that was not his.
--- Ember, in Article 5
In the end, Article 5 is less about Ember's mission to save her mother. This is the story of a girl who becomes conscious of how wrong and despicable it is for the government to rule its citizens by force, and ultimately understands of the true value of freedom and justice. There finally comes a point, when even the most innocent girl realizes that this just isn't the way it should be. A paradigm shift must be done - soon.
It's them Miller. Not us. It's the FBR that should be sorry. --- Sean, in Article 5
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