Review: Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Title: Breathe {Breathe #1}

Author: Sarah Crossan

Published: Bloomsbury November 2012

Synopsis: When oxygen levels plunge in a treeless world, a state lottery decides which lucky few will live inside the Pod. Everyone else will slowly suffocate. Years after the Switch, life inside the Pod has moved on. A poor Auxiliary class cannot afford the oxygen tax which supplies extra air for running, dancing and sports. The rich Premiums, by contrast, are healthy and strong. Anyone who opposes the regime is labelled a terrorist and ejected from the Pod to die. Sixteen-year-old Alina is part of the secret resistance, but when a mission goes wrong she is forced to escape from the Pod. With only two days of oxygen in her tank, she too faces the terrifying prospect of death by suffocation. Her only hope is to find the mythical Grove, a small enclave of trees protected by a hardcore band of rebels. Does it even exist, and if so, what or who are they protecting the trees from? A dystopian thriller about courage and freedom, with a love story at its heart

Status: {Courtesy Bloomsbury ANZ}

My Thoughts:
In Sarah Crossan’s new YA novel, Breathe, what is left of the world’s population has been forced to live within Pod’s to survive after the destruction of all vegetation resulted in the oxygen levels dropping so low as to be unable to sustain life. Within the dome oxygen consumption is heavily taxed by the Breathe corporation, allowing the wealthy members of the dystopian society, the Premiums, the opportunity to live a near normal life while the Auxillary’s are unable to afford to engage in even the simplest of activities that would increase their monitored respiration rate. Alina, Bea and Quinn have known no other way of life but they are about to learn the breathtaking secret Breathe is desperate to hide.

Breathe is told from multiple points of view and begins with Alina in the midst of a daring raid on the Pod’s conservation area. Alina’s bitter cynicism contrasts with her naive idealism, she is not the most likeable character but her earnest belief in the cause is admirable. A Zone Three Auxillary class citizen of Breathe, her parents are missing, presumably murdered for their efforts to undermine Breathe, and Alina has taken up the cause. When the mission goes wrong and her partner killed, she has no choice but to escape the Pod and join the Resistance in the Outlands.
Quinn is a Premium, the privileged son of one of Breathe’s top executives who rarely thinks to question the regime that oppresses his best friend, Bea. It is only when he is confronted with Bea’s failure to gain an indisputably well deserved place in the Pod leadership program that he becomes uneasy with his blind acceptance of Breathe’s rule.
Gaining a place in the Pod leadership program would give Bea and her parents a chance at a better life but when she is denied entry, she is resigned to the status quo. Instead she looks forward to the planned camping trip with Quinn into the Outlands, hoping that the time alone will make him look at her differently.

The three teens become a reluctant team when Alina uses Quinn’s attraction to her to escape the Pod during his camping trip with Bea. Though Alina quickly attempts to ditch the pair in the Outlands, Quinn and Bea decide to follow her. I thought the concept of the book was strong, though not original (I watched The Lorax with my children just the other week). There are some elements that could have been more fully developed, others that follow a tenuous chain of logic but in the main Crossan has developed a believable setting for the novel.
Much of the story concentrates on the dangerous journey across the Outlands, providing plenty of action at a good pace as the trio encounter Drifters and are hunted by Breathe soldiers.  The journey also involves Bea and Quinn having to face uncomfortable truths about Breathe and their unconscionable manipulation of the Pod’s citizens. Their discovery of Breathe’s machinations contributes to their own personal growth. Quinn has to face the source of his comfortable existence and Bea has to develop the courage to stand against her oppressors.

Breathe is a solid dystopian young adult story for fans of the genre, who seemingly can’t get enough of the now familiar trope. I enjoyed Breathe but sadly, it didn’t quite take my breath away.

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Leeswammes
    Nov 10, 2012 @ 19:49:57

    It sounds interesting but it’s just one of many of these types of books, then? I love a good dystopian story, although I prefer adult ones.



    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Nov 11, 2012 @ 14:14:43

      To be fair Judith I don’t read a lot of dystopian as it’s not really my thing but of those I have read, the similarities stand out



  2. Kat (AussieZombie) (@katlb82)
    Nov 10, 2012 @ 21:51:54

    I was underwhelmed by this one too – it’s difficult to find a dystopian that really stands out in the crowd at the moment. The characters were what I struggled with the most – and Alina is really not likable at all.



    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Nov 11, 2012 @ 14:16:20

      Hunger Games certainly triggered a landslide in the genre much like Twilight did for vampire romance and after a while they all start to sound the same



  3. Laura Fabiani
    Nov 11, 2012 @ 07:40:05

    I was thinking of reading this one. I might just borrow it from the library since it didn’t seem to wow you.



  4. Trackback: Review: Resist by Sarah Crossan | book'd out

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