Thursday, October 4, 2012

Review: Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Breathe (Breathe, Book #1)
by Sarah Crossan
Release Date: October 2nd, 2012
2012 Greenwillow Books
Ebook Edition; 252 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062118691
ASIN: B007HBY132
Genre: Young Adult / Dystopian
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

Inhale. Exhale.
Breathe . . .
The world is dead.
The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.

And as Alina, Quinn, and Bea 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
The premise behind Breathe really fascinated me and intrigued me. It's one of the reasons why I am so addicted to the Total Recall movie and have watched it many times, as the idea of someone controlling the air I breathe and forcing me to give in to unreasonable demands because I can't survive without oxygen, makes me a little sick to my stomach.  Set in the future and told from a variety of perspectives, Breathe certainly had an interesting premise and started off very well, but I have to admit that somewhere along the way I lost interest and just didn't find myself fully invested in the lives of the characters or in the story.

Quinn is the one born with all the luxuries, including the much-coveted premium air tanks which allow him to do activities that few others are allowed to, or even can, do.  While he was portrayed as being somewhat blind to his surroundings as a rich, spoiled kid, I felt that his friend Bea was also quite blind, but in a very different way.  All she could see was the trappings of the rich and not really the erosion and rust that existed behind everything.  There were times when I could have just smucked their heads together, but I guess when you grow up being told one thing, it is very hard to believe something else even when the truth is right there in front of you.  And while at first I liked Alina, despite her brash personality, she did sort of wear on my nerves after a while.  For me, there were too many inconsistencies with the development of the characters and their personalities and I found it too distracting.  In the end, it left me indifferent to their feelings and emotions and I found my not really caring what happened to them.  It's not too often that that happens to me while reading a book.  I believe I was more interested in Mr. Watson than anyone as he seemed to be the more interesting of the characters.

Don't get wrong though as there were some good moments in this novel, moments that I did enjoy very much.  Even though I didn't really feel a connection with the characters, I was intrigued by the world that was created and by something called "The Switch".  When it comes to this type of novel however, I believe the author has to be careful not to oversimplify things and I was never really satisfied with any of the explanations for "The Switch" and for the reality of how life is outside the pod.  Explanations were not really given to explain how people managed to survive outside the pod, or how they got there, or why.  As a long-time science-fiction fan, I just felt like a lot of these details were glossed over or ignored, and this jarred with me quite a bit.  Maybe I am too picky but I do like explanations for things and not just "this is how it is, so believe it" scenarios. 

Breathe introduces us to another unique dystopian world.  The author writes clearly and descriptively, allowing the reader to really get a taste of what the world must look and feel like, and the short chapters told in different points of view helped keep the story moving along quickly.  While I did enjoy it to a certain extent, I just felt like there was something lacking in both the character and plot development.  However, that being said, I will probably still take a look at Resist when it is released in October 2013. 


  1. I'm generalising here, but it seems that lots of YA authors like to skimp on the details and focus on the plot, especially with the dystopian genre that's been on the rise. I love the genre but I haven't read too many where there is actually a clear-cut rationale for WHY the world is what it is now, and for me I'd love to know more about it... the world is a bit reason why I love to read the genre so I want to know as much about it as possible. I understand that there's a balance that authors need to make, and description isn't going to be as heavy as it would be in an adult novel, but still. I feel like this is a common complaint with many readers on the dystopian genre.

    Kind of sucks that you couldn't really connect with the characters.

    1. And there were a lot of readers who really loved this novel so I will give credit where credit is due. However, it didn't really resonate for me, for exactly the reasons you mentioned Cass, as I feel like the the characterization and the world-building and the WHY were lost around the plot, and even the romance was somewhat lacking. I felt like I missed something there too as suddenly the main characters were in love and I wondered what I had missed.

  2. Excellent review. Not really my genre to read though...

  3. Scary thoughts for the future. I tend to agree with you, this genre doesn't seem to dwell too much on character development.