Friday, March 14, 2014

Break on Through

An extreme of any type of society is bound to lead to a heavy hand in enforcing the cultural expectations. When the country swung from a focus on freedom to a focus on morality, the means of upholding forced morals went too far. In the sequel to Article 5, Breaking Point is a story of just how fast Ember is forced to grow up when she is on the run from a government that thought she was a criminal just for being born. 

Ember knows Chase had a hand in her mother's murder, but she also knows he had no choice. Tucker, on the other hand, is as sadistic and guilty as the worst parts of the government. They were happy to be free of him, but even on the other side of the fence, they find themselves surrounded by people whose decisions are questionable at best. In the resistance, everyone must work to end the government's moral indoctrination of society. As a bunch of societal misfits, criminals, and AWOL soldiers, the resistance needs people like Ember and Chase. Everyone is expected to work and fight in order to turn the tide of of the moral oppression that believes anyone who breaks an article is subject to imprisonment or death. 

The Resistance is confident in their ability to sway public perception, but they underestimated the power of the government. Their safe houses and ability to smuggle "packages" (people) out of the government's control gives them a false sense of security under the heavy hand of moral directives. All that security comes crashing down on them when their safe house burns to the ground and soldiers surround the building. Ember and Chase have been on the run before, but they almost didn't make it. With what they have lived through before they came to Wallace's safe house, they are facing a terrifying proposition: is there really any place safe for them to go? The government would like the answer to that question to be NO!

It was a long time between when I read the first book in this series and this sequel, so I had to look up a plot summary of the first story in preparation for this book. I think that was part of the reason the first 1/4 of this story was a little slow for me, but the other part of that problem was because the beginning of the story was indeed a little slow. Luckily it turned itself around and picked up the pace to what I so fondly remembered from the first story. Unfortunately, that slow beginning might be a struggle for a student who has difficulties sticking with a book. If they can hang in there, though, they would really enjoy a story that basically has Ember and Chase on the run for most of the book. We saw a lot of that in the first book, but in this sequel, the risk is elevated once Ember is named as one of five enemies of the state and her face is plastered all over the place with a reward for her capture. When people are starving and displaced, their sense of loyalty is disposable. 

The idea of being hunted by the government and moral police compared with being a hero to the resistance was an interesting angle. This is a book where religion took over the government and the separation of church and state was abolished to make way for moral and religious indoctrination. In contrast to our own politics or the politics of countries where religious police already exist, it is a book that could produce many topics for discussion or research while still being entertaining and interesting. And best of all, I really like the characters of Ember and Chase. Ember puts herself in harms way more often than not in the name of what is right, and Chase is her voice of reason. Together they make the perfect hero, and I love the dynamic that the two of them bring to each adrenaline pumping situation. Now I am looking forward to how the story wraps up with the final book!

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