If You Liked The Hunger Games...

...you'll love this book. Yes, we've all been using that line a lot lately, and there are (fortunately) quite a few YA books that deserve the comparison. I've been compiling a list, but I just threw it away because I finished a book that REALLY, TRULY will appeal to the same students.

Article 5, by Kristen Simmons, is a mashup of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (the U.S. is a totalitarian Fundamentalist theocracy), Neal Shusterman's Unwind (teens who don't comply are disposed of) and Cormac McCarthy's The Road (post-apocalyptic quest, where no one can be trusted), all wrapped up in a teen love/survival triangle à la The Hunger Games.
Ember Miller's mother does not accept the Moral Statutes that are enforced by a Taliban-style force known as the Moral Militia. As a single mother, she and Ember are in violation of Article 5 of those statutes, which means they can be targeted for "rehabilitation". Ember has absorbed enough of her mother's revolt to realize that she does not want to become a compliant, subservient "sister", so she looks for a way to escape. When all seems lost, an unlikely savior rescues her, and teaches her how to survive as they strike out to join a rumored Resistance.

Along the way, Ember must struggle with her panic over how her mother must be coping with the same kind of rehabilitation, her buried feelings for the boy-next-door that she misses, her conflicted feelings for the brutal, survival-savvy soldier who helps her, and whether she has the ability to take another's life if necessary to survive.

Like the first Hunger Games, this book ends with enough resolution to satisfy teen fans, yet enough loose ends to fuel sequels - and I sincerely hope they are in the works.