Do you know how you get those little cups of sorbet as a ‘palate cleanser’ during a multicourse meal? Well Kristen Simmons’ Three, the last book in the Article 5 series was a palate cleanser for me. Lately it seemed that I was reading a lot of dystopian/apocalyptic novels that had fantasy elements or just simply too many general elements incorporated into them to really be able to focus on the main aspect of the story. Three is a good, old-fashioned, stripped down tale of an authoritarian government which tells its citizens how to live.

For all that we in the U.S. call ourselves a democracy, this book seems timely. Isn’t the role of a democratic government to be representative of its people? Does anyone feel that this concept holds true today?

Ember Miller‘s life was irrevocably changed when she was designated to be an Article Five violator. Simply by being the child of an unwed union she was sent to a ‘rehabilitation center’ and her mother was arrested, tortured, and finally killed by Tucker, a soldier she now has a complicated alliance with. After breaking out with the help of her childhood sweetheart, Chase, the pair have been on the run, and the second book ended with finding the safehouse where they thought they could stop running, destroyed.

As the story begins, Ember, Chase, and old and new friends are trying to track the survivors of the safehouse. When they catch up to them, old friends are reunited and complicated alliances ensue. After hints in the earlier stories, the now enlarged group finds the base of Three, the mysterious rebel shadow organization that has been trying to undermine the current totalitarian government, but are there methods any better than the government they are trying to destroy? It’s this question that Ember has to ponder throughout the story, that and the idea that even if the people prevail, what does her own future hold? Chase appears to be irreparably damaged by the violence he has both endured and inflicted, and her own conscience is troubled by her uneasy alliance with her mother’s killer.

Ember is Everyman, or should I say Everywoman. She does not have super powers, she isn’t a ninja, and she struggles with doing the right thing. She is the proverbial ‘girl-next-door’ who is thrust into a situation that tests who she is, what she will do, and ultimately what she thinks is right for her loved ones, her country, and ultimately herself. Sometimes that’s exactly the kind of hero you want to read about, an average person who manages to make an impact.


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