Three (Article 5 #3) by Kristen Simmons

Review overview

Concept
Story
Writing
Characters
Genre Elements

Impossible to put down!

Action-packed sequences, suspense, and near-palpable tension, as well as scenes of emotional poignancy and vulnerability that tug at the heartstrings.

Three is the conclusion of the young adult dystopian trilogy Article 5, written by Kristen Simmons. It was preceded by Article 5 and Breaking Point, two strong novels that left readers expecting a lot from the trilogy’s conclusion. Three definitely lives up to those expectations.

In this trilogy, the United States is recovering after a devastating civil war. Insurgents all but destroyed Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and other major cities. The government’s answer to the insurrection is totalitarianism, enforced by soldiers of the newly formed Federal Bureau of Reformation (FBR). All citizens must be compliant with the Moral Statutes, which require participation in the Church of America and forbid activities such as divorce, immigration, and having children out of wedlock. Citizens who are non-compliant with the Moral Statutes are arrested and brainwashed, imprisoned, tortured, or executed by the FBR.

In Three we continue to follow Ember Miller, a 17-year-old daughter of an unwed mother, and Chase Jennings, her childhood friend and boyfriend who went AWOL from his job as an FBR soldier. Ember and Chase finally arrive at a safe house maintained by the resistance movement, only to find it completely destroyed by the FBR. Desperate, they follow tracks from the safe house leading south, hoping to find survivors of the bombing, members of the mysterious resistance movement called “Three,” and a place where they can finally be safe.

A heroine comes into her own
Three is nearly impossible to put down. It has its share of action-packed sequences, suspense, and near-palpable tension, but it also has scenes of emotional poignancy and vulnerability that tug at the heartstrings.

Ember comes into her own in this book. While in Article 5 she is largely clueless about the world’s dangers and depends on Chase for protection, in Three she learns to assess her surroundings, lead instead of always follow, and defend herself and her companions. As she learns these skills, she also navigates her relationship with Chase, and they become more intimate emotionally and physically. As a result, Ember’s greatest fear is no longer her own death, but losing Chase.

But never fear, fellow Bella-haters—Three is nowhere near Twilight-esque. While Chase does become more important to Ember each day, she also works for the resistance’s cause: bringing down the FBR. Ember actively puts herself in danger as she goes out disguised as the enemy, carrying information vital to the resistance and a gun she now knows how to use.

Kristen Simmons’ characterization and worldbuilding is flawless. Her characters’ reaction to trauma is heartbreakingly realistic—as one would expect it to be, since Simmons has a master’s degree in social work and worked as a therapist before becoming a writer. Ember, Chase, and all the other prominent characters are completely three-dimensional. Their motivations and actions are believable. Simmons’ portrayal of Chase’s post-traumatic stress disorder is particularly outstanding.

Definitely not for children
While Three and the entire Article 5 trilogy are outstanding, their portrayals of violence and trauma are particularly graphic and could disturb some readers. Ember and Chase’s physical intimacy also pushes the boundaries of the young adult genre. This book is not for children, or even some young teens. I honestly think it should come with a disclosure about its graphic content. I also couldn’t help but think of the Hunger Games, particularly Mockingjay, at a certain point in this book.

Why should you read this book?
The pacing, characterization, and gritty realism of Three are what make it truly exceptional and an excellent conclusion to the Article 5 trilogy. Simmons doesn’t sugar-coat the violence or the vulnerability of Ember, Chase, and other characters. The action-packed end of Three is so real that I could almost smell the blood and gunpowder. The theme of uncertainty and betrayal is closed unexpectedly, shocking the reader. Just when you become comfortable, Three delivers another twist.

But Three isn’t a constant bloodbath; the violence is balanced with love and vulnerability that will touch and stay with you long after you close the book.

Fans of the Hunger Games and other violent dystopian books will love Three and the entire Article 5 trilogy. Kristen Simmons has proven herself to be an exceptional writer, and I look forward to her next work.

About Tracie Parry

Tracie Parry
Though she was raised in Southern California, Tracie has lived in Utah for several years and has no plans to leave. She taught herself to read when she was 3 years old – maybe earlier. It’s hard to tell because she didn’t start talking until she was 3. Since then Tracie’s been an insatiable reader, and earned her bachelor’s degree in English (professional and technical writing emphasis) in 2011. She worked as an editor and reporter for St. George (Utah) News before relocating to Salt Lake City. Unfortunately, working a full-time job, being a wife, owning a house, and generally being a responsible grown-up now cuts severely into Tracie’s reading habit. In her spare time, Tracie enjoys playing tabletop games, wasting time on Facebook, spending time with her husband, Brandon and (of course) reading. She works in the financial sector.

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