This review and others are posted at Read, Rinse, Repeat.
My main problem with Article 5 was the very premise upon which it was based. And without that basic building block of the story in place, everything else falls apart. The dystopian society portrayed in Article 5 didn't seem very believable. What is the purpose of society reverting to a Puritanical moral code? Who benefits? In dystopian books, there should be some acceptable rationale behind a radical societal and governmental change. I didn't get that from Article 5. It seemed like the morality police were arbitrarily selected to be society's rulers. Violators of the moral "articles" were subject to extreme punishment. The moral statutes were being violated right and left, but it was never fully explained why some violators were singled out, and some were left alone. I could have understood if those punished were a threat to the rulers, or if they were weak and a drain on the society's resources, but unfortunately, we're never given an explanation.
The romance between the two main characters was not very appealing. I had a hard time making the connection between old boyfriend Chase and current soldier/possible mean guy Chase. We're given occasional flashbacks to the good ol' days between Ember and Chase, and he seems like a different person today. There was some romantic tension between Ember and Chase at times, but I think it would have seemed more genuine if they didn't have a history together and if it was sparked by an initial meeting and attraction. I didn't care for Chase, and the eventual explanation for his coldness towards Ember did not ring true for me. As for Ember, at times she seemed brave and resourceful, but in Chase's presence she turned into the girl who needs rescuing. And then, suddenly, she's brave again. And so on.
With the possible exception of Becca, secondary characters were little more than cliches. Becca, however, is not without problems, as she instantaneously morphs from nun to hussy to best friend. Likewise, her boyfriend transforms quickly from potential murderer to supporter. But they both fared better than the many soldiers who were portrayed as wanna-be rapists. That still doesn't excuse lines like this: "I'm not some three dollar hooker!" Ugh.
There are plenty of great YA dystopian novels out there, and Article 5, lacking originality and
interesting ideas, is not one of them. I already have the sequel, Breaking Point, checked out from the library. If it's worth reading, please let me know!