Checkouts: If I'd known this was an awesome book, I'd have bought it at the Scholastic book fair last month. This shall likely be remedied.
Typical reader: Teen girls - there's a bit too much romance to appeal to boys, IMHO
Source: I found an Advance Reader's Copy (ARC) at Snowbound Books. The ARC was free and I am not paid for this review.
Synopsis: In a dystopian future of America, the Bill of Rights has been revoked and replaced with the Moral Statutes. Martial law enforces these statutes. Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller lives with her rebellious single mother and attends high school, putting up with math because she knows that the girls who follow her in school will likely never have that privilege. But that all changes when soldiers show up to arrest her mother for being a single mother - breaking Article 5 of the Moral Statutes - and force Ember into a rehabilitation center. And one of the soldiers breaking up the family is none other than her childhood friend and crush, Chase Jennings.
My Goodreads rating: 4 stars
My synopsis above is a summary of the teaser on the book. Now, most teasers will give you a bit of the plot through the first couple chapters, or maybe even a good chunk of the book. Not here! That happens in the first 20 pages of text. And the adventure never stops (except for tense breaks for what passes for romantic interests) for the next 300+ pages. I read about half the book in one evening. The plot, with all its twists and turns, really engaged me. Ms. Simmons created a horrific future for America, and her timing with this book really gives some social commentary.
Let me summarize the Moral Statutes for you.
- Article 1 denies individuals the right to practice or display propaganda associated with an alternative religion to Church of America.
- Articles 2 and 3 define the family as one man, one woman, and their children.
- Article 4 makes divorce illegal.
- Article 5, the catalyst for this book, states that only children conceived by a married husband and wife are considered valid citizens.
- Article 6 outlaws abortion.
- Article 7 outlines rules for traditional male and female roles, including the subservience of the woman.
But you're here for a book review, not political commentary, right?
I really enjoyed the prose that delivered this well-built world and tantalizing plot. There are a lot of artistically descriptive passages; one that comes to mind spoke of a peach and raspberry sky. That sounds beautiful. I also appreciated the higher reading level this novel offered; it would be good for advanced readers who aren't ready for adult-oriented books.
If there was a flaw in this book, it was Chase. After arresting Ember's mother and sending his old friend to a rehabilitation center, he shows up and rescues her ... or does he? In his cross-country trek with Ember, he acts like he's the only person she can trust, the person she must rely on to safely get to their destination where she believes her mother is, and yet he keeps putting her in danger. She has incredibly mixed emotions about him, being in love with the "old" Chase, while fearing the "new" hardened AWOL soldier that he's become. He doesn't make anything easier for her in that regard, sending her incredibly mixed signals and acting like such a jerk that I could have thrown the book across the room. If you're looking for an angst-filled, slap-slap-kiss relationship, you've got it. And then there's what happens at the climax of the story ... but I don't do spoilers.
Despite Chase, this was a very good book. I don't know when the sequel is due out, but I'd be interested.