Review: Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons

Breaking Point (Article 5 #2)
Kristen Simmons

Tor
Released February 12, 2013
400 pages
YA / Dystopian

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The second installment in Kristen Simmons's fast-paced, gripping YA dystopian series. 

After faking their deaths to escape from prison, Ember Miller and Chase Jennings have only one goal: to lay low until the Federal Bureau of Reformation forgets they ever existed.

Near-celebrities now for the increasingly sensationalized tales of their struggles with the government, Ember and Chase are recognized and taken in by the Resistance—an underground organization working to systematically take down the government. At headquarters, all eyes are on the sniper, an anonymous assassin taking out FBR soldiers one by one. Rumors are flying about the sniper’s true identity, and Ember and Chase welcome the diversion….

Until the government posts its most-wanted list, and their number one suspect is Ember herself.

Orders are shoot to kill, and soldiers are cleared to fire on suspicion alone. Suddenly Ember can’t even step onto the street without fear of being recognized, and “laying low” is a joke. Even members of the Resistance are starting to look at her sideways.

With Chase urging her to run, Ember must decide: Go into hiding…or fight back?

I wasn’t as besotted with Article 5 as many other bloggers were. Ember drove me a little crazy and having the entire story filtered through her naïve worldview kept me from fully enjoying the world or story Simmons was weaving. Towards the end she became a more street smart character that fit the world she was living in and I could start to empathize with her plight, her constant state of fear, and her inability to fully function in the dystopian world around her. That’s why I picked up Breaking Point and why I enjoyed it much more.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR ARTICLE 5

Breaking Point opens with Ember hiding away from the world around her in the semi-safety of the rebel base, attempting to reconcile what has happened to her and how to save her friend from the confines of the prison camp/army boot camp of Chicago. There is a wedge the size of a city between her and Chase despite the sacrifices they’ve made for each other and the horrible things they’ve experienced together. It’s not enough for either of them to get past the fact that Chase was there when Ember’s mother was killed and he didn’t try to stop it. It’s all rather emo, but not in a way that completely takes over the narrative.

When the army announces that Ember is potentially working with a sniper that’s targeting members of the military, existing becomes even more dangerous for her. Still she’s forced from the semi-safety of the rebel base and put into the middle of the action to spread a message among the rebels and possibly a sense of hope for those forced to live in squalor. This allows for a lot of tense storytelling, which is what Simmons is best at. Her ability to make me feel the panic and fear that her characters are experiencing is a rare gift.

Ember still makes some stupid decisions, but they’re generally made in hopes of protecting or helping people she loves. When she’s faced with Tucker – Chase’s former partner and the boy responsible for her mother’s death, among other unpleasant things – joining the resistance, the book gets a little bogged down with Ember’s internal struggle of hating and not trusting him while having to work side-by-side, sometimes with her life in Tucker’s hands. This could have stolen all momentum and tension out of the plot, but there are so many pulse-pounding moments and heart-breaking occurrences that a lot of the doubt and internal monologue gets washed away from the forefront.

While I didn’t get emotionally attached enough to tear up at the sadder parts, some of the characters were able to make my heart hurt for them, especially the young Billy and the tragedies he has to suffer. Simmons also managed to put in a few heated moments between Chase and Ember that left me wanting more of those quiet moments together when the evils of the world didn’t quite prevent them from being together. There was just enough to leave me wanting more while still feeling satisfying.

This is a heart-pounding addition to the Article 5 series and it ends with a lot of unanswered questions. Simmons writing is tight and intense while the characters have shown significant growth through difficult situations. I’m not entirely sure where the next book will take Ember and Chase or if it will provide more world building to explain Three and how everything ties together, but it’s an intense adventure I look forward to experiencing.

 

Many thanks to Tor for providing me with a finished copy of Breaking Point in return for an honest review.