cover image Article 5

Article 5

Kristen Simmons. Tor Teen, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-7653-2958-5

In her debut novel, Simmons portrays a right-wing dystopian America still reeling from a vaguely described war. Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller lives quietly with her free-spirited mother, trying to avoid the puritanical Federal Bureau of Reformation and their increasingly stringent Moral Statutes. When Ember’s mother is arrested as morally suspect (she’s an unwed mother), Ember is carted off to a repressive reform school that is essentially a concentration camp. Worse, one of the soldiers involved in the arrest is Ember’s former boyfriend, Chase, now barely recognizable in military uniform. The novel details naïve Ember’s experiences first as a prisoner, then as a fugitive, with the emotionally scarred and secretive Chase as her companion. Heavy-handed in its delivery, the tale is well-written, though there are occasional clunkers (“I answered as assertively as I could. I was so mad my organs vibrated”). Simmons’s story includes a fair amount of believable action, a few mildly horrific events, and some not quite R-rated romance on its way to a conclusion that sets up the next installment in this planned trilogy. Ages 14–up. Agent: Browne & Miller Literary Associates. (Feb.)