War has ravaged the United States. Every major city on the East Coast has been abandoned. The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and the Federal Bureau of Reformation and the military run the country with an iron fist, enforcing the Moral Statutes with extreme prejudice. Violators aren’t just arrested, they tend to disappear, never to be seen or heard from again. Ember’s mother is not a supporter of the FBR and Ember is always racing to hide their contraband when the “Moral Militia” comes to inspect their house. But when the military shows up at her house one day after school, it’s not for inspection, it’s to arrest her mother for violating Article 5 of the Moral Statutes, and to take Ember to reform school. The moment she sets foot in the reform school, Ember knows she has to escape and save her mother, but she doesn’t expect Chase Jennings to be the one to help her. Ember loved Chase once, but when he joined the military he became a different man, one she barely recognized when he came to arrest her. Now he’s helping her escape, and though she doesn’t understand why, she’s willing to use him if it reunites her with her mother. Together, they must overcome both past and current differences and avoid the Moral Militia while they race to save Ember’s mother’s life.
This book had so much potential to be really good. The concept was great…not original, but cool. Yeah, there was a love story, but based on the cover flap I didn’t think the love story would be that overwhelming. The book even started alright, with the dramatic arrest of Ember and her mother, and Ember’s quick disillusionment when she arrives at the reform school. But then it started to go downhill. The reform school was totally stereotypically evil and make me roll my eyes a lot. Chase was the stereotypical dark, conflicted bad boy. Ember couldn’t ever figure out how to deal with him (poor baby). Nor could Ember deal with her own emotions, instead constantly blaming herself for everything. I wanted to like her and Chase both, and I could tell I was suppose to, but instead I just found myself actually yelling at the book saying “what are you doing you moron!?!”
And then there was the world. I think it was supposed to be dystopian, but it didn’t really work. It was only three years since the mysterious War that changed everything. Except we never found out ANYTHING about this War. Like, who bombed the US? Why were the cities evacuated? How did the government shift so quickly? Three years seemed a very short time for the nation to change so radically with no real explanation of what happened. I think that was the part that bothered me the most. The characters in the world acted like they had been in the post-War situation for, well, ever, but also kept repeating that it hadn’t been that long. I might have been able to deal with stereotypical characters OR non-sensical world building, but both was too much. This was a bummer, because I heard really good things about this novel before I read it. Oh well. On to the next!