Author: Sarah Crossan
Publisher: Bloomsbury UK
Publication date: October 11th 2012.
My rating: 3.5 stars
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.
Gritty dystopians have really been hitting the spot as of late. Breathe I’m happy to say is a book which managed to tick a lot of my boxes in providing a masterfully woven novel which kept me on the edge of my seat when several books have failed. There are only a distinct number of dystopians which I would categorise as utterly mind-blowing and I’m pleased to say Breathe is one of those books.
With the number of dystopians coming through these days, I’ve become increasingly picky over what I choose to read. Unfortunately the majority of the ones I’ve decided to pick up have failed to live up to expectations. But when I first came across Breathe, for once I didn’t have any feelings of dread in deciding to pick it up. The premise of a society dependant on the rules and regulations they’re governed by that they don’t have their own say is quite over done in books, but despite Breathe focusing on a similar theme touched on by many others, it also had a uniqueness about it which shone through.
Quinn and Bea are brought up in a society where oxygen is a privilege. If you’re a premium like Quinn then you have more access to oxygen tanks and thus generally you get to live the better life. Whereas Bea is an auxiliary, her parents are barely scraping by, the fact that Quinn is her friend makes her life a lot easier, but Bea doesn’t want to be dependent on Quinn for everything, she knows her best shot is to win a place in the pod through the Breathe leadership program.
I know that I would utterly fail at having my oxygen intake monitored by the ministry, so it was tough reading about the two distinct groups; premiums and auxiliaries; how different their lives could be, how everything about society was thoroughly drilled into them, that they weren’t aware of what was within their grasp until they met Alina a member of the resistance. I admit I didn’t like Alina at first, I thought she was sort of butting in Bea and Quinn’s friendship. But the multiple povs in this book allowed me to get a proper understanding of her character, and as the book progressed, the character changes that emerged in her I admired.
Bea was my favourite character; there was so much heartache she had to go through that I really felt for her at times. But through the tough situations she faced, she demonstrated she could be a fierce fire cracker when necessary. I’m still a little conflicted over how I felt about the romance in this book, I’m happy about the direction it went in, but felt it happened all of a sudden, as we were always led to believe it was one sided.
The secondary characters certainly livened up this book; so many times I was quick to make judgements about them, but was surprised by how wrong I could be. Jazz and Maude quickly became favourites.
Overall Breathe is a fresh book that I’m sure many will devour, the insightful multiple povs, fast pace and action packed scenes will sure to keep readers captivated. Book two which is scheduled for release in October 2013, I’m sure will be one of my highly anticipated reads of the year.