BY: Sarah Crossan
SERIES: Breathe #1
PUBLICATION INFORMATION: October 2nd 2012 by Greenwillow
EDITION: Hardcover, 373 pages
CATEGORIES: Young adult, Sci-Fi, Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic, Adventure, Romance, Dystopian
RATING: 3.50/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.73/5.00
WHAT THE BACK OF THE BOOK SAYS: Inhale. Exhale. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe… The world is dead. The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.
ALINA has been stealing for a long time. She’s a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she’s never been caught before. If she’s careful, it’ll be easy. If she’s careful.
QUINN should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it’s also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn’t every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.
BEA wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they’d planned a trip together, the two of them, and she’d hoped he’d discover her out here, not another girl.
And as they walk into the Outlands with two days’ worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?
MY THOUGHTS: I really enjoyed this book, which isn’t a huge surprise considering my love for anything dystopian/apocalyptic. This book has it’s own unique spin, as Crossan creates a world without trees – – without oxygen. The book centers around the big, bad corporation, Breathe, who manufactures oxygen and pumps it into the dome that the survivors now live under, and who are split into a caste-like system with premiums and auxiliaries, and the Resistance – aka – RATS.
Of course there is corruption within the dome, and the RATS are trying to bring it to light, and bring the world back how it was before the Switch. Part of the RATS, Alina Moon finds herself mourning the loss of Abel, her crush and fellow RATS member. She runs into Quinn Caffery at school, in line for green flu vaccinations, and he’s smitten. But Bea Whitcraft, an auxiliary, is secretly in love with Quinn, the son of Breathe’s head honcho. Alina suffers alone with the grief of her “missing” (read: Dead) parents, and lives with her aunt, uncle, and cousin Silas – also all RATS.
When Alina is suddenly being hunted by Breathe, she must escape the dome and make her way through the Outlands to The Grove, one of the outposts of the RATS who call an old soccer stadium home. Of course as a wanted possible criminal, she isn’t able to get access out of the dome, and so Quinn, in an act of lust, gets her out of the dome with himself and Bea, who planned a camping trip. Along the way they meet drifters, one in particular, Maude Blue who is actually the best character in the book, in my opinion. She’s so flawed and imperfect that you can’t help but love her and feel for her. With the stealing of a Breathe tank, Alina unknowingly begins a war between the Resistance and Breathe.
I think the overall theme and plot are my favorite part of the book. To me, this is something I constantly think about. Can we ever eventually log all of the forests? Will there ever be a time where the Earth is tree-less? Clearly Crossan has similar thoughts and even was able to build this world around the same question. While I thoroughly enjoyed Crossan’s writing style, I did have some trouble with the world-building, and had some trouble envisioning the dome world, and The Grove in my mind’s eye. Eventually I was able to get a sense of the world she’s created, and was able to put myself right in the action.
I have a love/hate relationship with the multi-POV as well. The story is told from the POV of three people – Quinn, Alina, and Bea, with Alina being the “Main character”. I did have some issues distinguishing the characters from one another, and sometimes had to go back and check the chapter’s first page to see which character it was “speaking”. I liked each of the characters, as they each had different challenges and inner demons, but I didn’t feel that they were totally rounded and 3D. If I had to choose a favorite, I’d actually pick Quinn. I think of the three, he’s the one who changed and grew the most throughout the book, and had the most to lose.
Another plus is that there aren’t too many obvious twists, and Crossan is wonderful at leaving doors open to be resolved in the sequel/subsequent novels in the series.
TO SUM IT UP: If you are looking for a fast-paced, action packed dystopian with a unique spin on a post-apocalyptic world and incredible characters that you’ll keep thinking about long after you end the book, then you should read Breathe.
READ THIS IF YOU LIKE: Beta by Rachel Cohn | Ashes of Twilight by Kassy Tayler | Skylark by Meagan Spooner | Black City by Elizabeth Richards | The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse
MY ‘SIMILAR BOOK FROM MY BOOKSHELF’ SUGGESTION: Matched by Ally Condie
AUTHOR INFO: Sarah Crossan is Irish. She graduated with a degree in Philosophy and Literature before training as an English and Drama teacher at Cambridge University and worked to promote creative writing in schools before leaving teaching to write full time.
She completed her Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Warwick in 2003 and in 2010 received an Edward Albee Fellowship for writing.
She currently lives in NYC.