Breathe by Sarah Crossan Review

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Title: Breathe
Author: Sarah Crossan (Twitter)
Publisher: Greenwillow
Publish Date: October 2, 2012
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Pages: 373
Source: Publisher

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. 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. 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?
The world is used up. Air is gone, and what little there is, the Breathe Corporation provides at great cost. To survive, you are either very privileged, or you work to the bone to provide a better life for your family in the bleak future of the world. Life outside these lifesaving pods isn't really an option, as the trees are gone, and the oceans are dried up, leaving the Earth with oxygen levels of a mere 6%. For Quinn, life is easy, as he's a Premium and one of the few elite. Bea is an Auxiliary and has worked hard with her family her entire life to secure their future. Alina is a rebel, and doesn't play by the rules. And the lives of these three teens are on a dangerous collision course.

Breathe presents a concept of a dystopian future that, while not entirely original or new, definitely takes its own spin on the concept of a world depleted of its natural resources. The world that Sarah Crossan has created is, indeed, extremely bleak, with a faceless corporation holding monopoly over the Earth's citizens' very lives. The smooth, steady pace of the novel lulls us into a comfortable and false sense of calm, enveloping us in a tale that begins to lash out with dark treachery as we progress. With its well-paced plot, understandable theme and a world that's bleak and devoid of hope, Breathe gives us a chance to root for redemption through it all.

I have to say that, at first, the concept of Breathe didn't immediately entice me, simply because I felt the setup was vaguely reminiscent of one my all-time favourite new dystopians, Pure. However, I was excited to start reading and see that while a few elements were similar, Breathe definitely had its own plot and was taking its execution in a different direction. One of the greatest strengths of the book were the three main characters with whom we're offered a chance to empathize. Bea, Alina and Quinn are stark contrasts of one another, each offering a different viewpoint into the world of Breathe. Their alternating points of view gave me a different perspective with each transition, and I felt as though my insight was more well-rounded by doing so. Throughout the novel though, I didn't see much character growth within their individual characters arcs, which also seemed to be lacking somewhat. However, in a largely plot-driven novel, I can accept it and will say that it made sense for Breathe. Another highlight of this book for me, surprisingly enough, was the love triangle, as we actually got to see two girls falling for the same guy, whereas usually it's the other way around. The only true complaint I have with the book is that I am left with a ton of questions regarding just what actually happened to the world. In a sense, it leaves me wanting more and anticipating the next installment, but in another way, I felt a bit slighted.

Overall though, I thought Breathe was a really well-written addition to the genre. With a clean writing style and a fresh voice, it's sure to find a big audience. I give it a strong 3.5 out of 5, and I definitely recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy dystopian fiction.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

14 comments:

  1. I think I felt exactly the same way about Breathe that you did Melissa. Parts of the story worked really well for me, especially the more pacier, action packed ones, but I was still left wanting a lot of explanation about how things happened in the first place. I saw a copy of the second book on Edelweiss the other day and the way things ended I think I will have to request a copy. Lovely review! Also I'm loving your new blog design, it's so elegant and pretty! :)

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  2. I've read a lot of mixed reviews on this and the book doesn't sound like my kind of read at all. However, I did enjoy reading your insight. Great review!

    - Ellie at The Selkie Reads Stories

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  3. Even though it had a similar feel to other books of its same genre, it was different enough to make this a good story.

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  4. Hi Melissa,
    Thanks for visiting our site. I was thinking of buying this book but a bit a hesitant after seeing some mixed reviews. "with a clean writing style and a fresh voice" ----- I might give this book a chance :D Thanks for the review. New follower.

    -Dannielle

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  5. A love triangle that's a highlight of the story? IT CANNOT BE MELISSA! That's actually really exciting, and I like the switch up to two girls falling for the same guy, that for some inexplicable reason makes way more sense in my head that two hot guys fighting over one girl. I'm a little bummed about the lack of character growth, but overall it sounds like a solid read. I have a copy on my shelf so hopefully I'll get to it in the not-too distant future:)

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  6. Great review! I like that there is a love triangle, but it isn't the usual. It's about time! I haven't heard of this one, but it sounds like one my students would love...they are obsessed with dystopians! Thanks for the great review and I am a new follower!

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  7. Great review. I see someone above mentioned there's a second book out. I so cannot keep up with all these series.

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  8. I remember eyeing this up when it first came out, but deciding to pass on it. I'm honestly just so burnt out on the dystopian genre for the time being. It does sound like an interesting premise and I like that you get different views of the world from characters whose place in it is so different. I saw the sequel up on Edelweiss and wondered if I should pick this one up. Maybe I will sometime this summer. Great review!
    -Natalie @Natflix&Books

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  9. You know, this is one of the more positive reviews I've seen of this one. I remember when this came out, I saw just strings and strings of negative reviews, so it's good to know it isn't as bad as many readers thought it was. Still, I know I'll be passing on this one unless the sequels blow you (or anyone else!) away. Great review, as always, Melissa! :D

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  10. I have this one, I just haven't had a chance to pick it up yet. I'm a little leery of the love triangle, because I've had my fill of them lately. The plot does sound exciting and frightening, though. The thought of oxygen being scare is terrifying. Hopefully the next one will be a better read. Wonderful review, Melissa. :)

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  11. I haven't read Breathe or Pure, but the whole concept of breathable air running low is definitely an interesting yet scary one. I'm not a fan of love triangles, but I do like how the trope seems to be turned on its head here with two females falling for a guy. I agree with you about the series thing - I think sometimes authors may be taking advantage of a book being part of a series and not explaining as much as they should in the first book, which can be an unfortunate and frustrating reading experience. That's great you were able to enjoy this, despite your worries it would be too similar to another book you loved with a similar premise!

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  12. I also saw some similarities in the synopsis for Breathe that I loved in Pure. I have not read Breathe yet, but it's still on my list!

    Great review, Melissa!

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  13. This was my wow pick, don't know why I haven't read it yet, but I love how different each characer's background is. I love the world created, I haven't read anything like it before (not familiar with Pure), and I think I would really enjoy Breathe. Though it's a little sad that there were more questions in the end than answers, but hey, the sequel is up on Edelweiss :D I can't wait to start this series! Great review, Melissa :)

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  14. I do like the concept, but I've read so many mixed reviews. Sometimes that makes me want to read it even more to see what I think. Great review. Thanks!

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