Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Breaking Point

Breaking Point

Kristen Simmons
Fiction  Series
For ages 13 and up
Tor Teen, 2013   ISBN: 978-0765329592

When Ember was a young child she took for granted the freedoms that she had. She thought nothing about being able to go to a shop to buy food, wearing a pair of pants, and being able to live with her single parent mother. Then a war broke out and when it finally ended life in America began to change. A new president came into power and he set about stripping the American people of their rights. Now all citizens are expected to live by a series of Moral Statutes and if they don’t comply they are imprisoned or killed. The Moral Statues are often brutally implemented by soldiers in the Federal Bureau of Reformation (FBR).

Not long ago Ember’s mother was killed by a soldier in the FBR and Ember was placed in a rehabilitation center. Thanks to the intervention of Chase, a childhood friend who then became more than a friend, Ember was able to escape the center. She and Chase then went on the run. Though they managed to avoid the authorities for a long time, they were finally taken into custody.  Both would surely have ended up dying in a military base in Knoxville, but thanks to Ember’s quick wits they were able to escape. Ember made a deal with one of the FBR soldiers, Tucker Morris, that she wouldn’t kill him and in return he would pretend that she and Chase had been killed and cremated. Tucker used to be Chase’s friend when Chase was a member of the FBR and he was the one who killed Ember’s mother. Though Ember hates Tucker, she still did not want to kill him and was relieved that a deal was stuck. Of course, she has no idea if he will keep his silence.

Since their escape Chase and Ember have been living and working with a local Resistance cell. For a month nothing much happens except a sniper continues to make life difficult for the government. Then the FBR puts out a bulletin listing the names of five people whom they believe are collaborating with the sniper. Ember’s name is one of them. Tucker has broken his promise and now Ember has a target on her back once more. Ember should lay low, but the leader of the Resistance cell decides that he needs her to go out among the people and give them hope, give them a reason to fight back against their oppressors.

Despite her fears, Ember follows orders and she leaves the safety of the Resistance hideout that she calls home. She walks among the people, thousands of whom are destitute and starving, all the while trying to stay clear of the FBR soldiers. Her first foray out onto the streets is fraught with problems because the sniper strikes again, but she manages to make it back in one piece, though she is much shaken by what she has seen and experienced.

After her next foray into the real world Ember and Chase come back to the hideout to discover that the Resistance leader has recruited Tucker Morris, the young man who killed Ember’s mother and who made life hell for Ember and Chase when they were in captivity at the base. Chase almost shoots his former friend and he and Ember decide that they cannot stay with the group. They are not gone long when a fire breaks out in the building where the Resistance hideout is located and when they hear about what is happening Chase and Ember race to their former home to make sure that their friends are okay. They are not. Several have died and the members who left are going to have to find someplace else to base their operations.

Ember, Chase and their friend Sean decide to head for Chicago. Sean has heard that his girlfriend is in a government institution there and he wants to save her. Ember and Chase want to help him. The three friends never imagine that what they are going to experience in the days to come will change their lives forever.

This second book in the Article 5 series is gritty and often painful. It exposes what could happen to a country if the people in charge are allowed to impose their belief systems on others. It also explores how a group of young people cope in a world that has slipped into chaos.