Breathe by Sarah Crossan
Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release date: October 2, 2012
Series: Breathe #1
Reviewed by: Tynga
Breathe . . .
The world is dead.
The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.
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.
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.
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?
Can you imagine a world without plants and trees? Not only would this world be really depressing, it would also lack vital oxygen. It’s what happened in Breathe’s world though. We destroyed the wild life and the oceans and very few survived The Switch. The only survivors live under a dome when Breathe, a company, managed to chemically create oxygen. But what is really the price to survival?
I’m a huge dystopian fan and I particularly loved Breathe because its premises is a plausible outcome if we keep polluting our planet. Quinn, Alina and Bea live in The Pod, a dome controlled by Breathe, where vital oxygen is available. Nothing is free though, you have to pay to breathe, literally. You consume more oxygen than allowed in your house? You pay taxes. This means having kids is pricy because you have to pay for the air they breathe. And exercising? Only the rich can afford it because you have to buy air tanks to do so. Speed tickets aren’t only for cars in Breathe (there actually are no cars) because you can’t walk to fast, it would waste precious oxygen.
Each of the main characters is form a different category of society, offering us better perspectives on this world. Crossan also chose to alternate narration between the three, giving us VIP access to their state of mind, which totally contributed to my enjoyment of this novel. Quinn is a high-ranked Breathe member’s son, thus he is wealthy and has access to everything he ever needs. It would be easy to be self-centered like the other Premiums, but he is a really nice guy, even though blind to Bea’s feelings for him. She is an auxiliary, the poorest persons in Breathe, and she is very smart and hard-working. I really liked her because she strive to improve her condition to help her sick mother. Last but not least, Alina is a member of a rebel organisation trying to regrow trees to replenish the planet. Alina was strong and fierce and started as kind of cold-hearted but she really grew on me has she had to review her actions.
I was really on board with Sarah’s plot. Even though I was sold from the first chapter, the action really starts when Quinn and Bea set off to a trip outside the Pod and Alina, running away from the Ministry, tags along to escape. Q & B have no idea, but this trip will turn out to be much more than a camping trip: it’ll change their lives. I loved the way Sarah put all three characters to the test, presenting each of them with their own obstacles. Q & B’s reactions when they learn what Breathe really is about was awesome, and the actions they decide to take afterwards really spoke of their character. Really, I enjoyed the whole quest and I am highly anxious for the second novel in the series, Resist, because honestly? The end was a killer and I have no idea how I will wait a whole year for the next instalment!
Breathe was an highly exciting and addictive read, but most importantly it forces you to think for yourself. Every page was amazing and I really wondered what I would do if I were in Bea or Alina’s position. I was also disgusted about the way the people of power acted in Breathe, mostly because I know this particular attitude isn’t fiction. Power sometimes bring the worst out of someone and they way you deal with it says a lot about you.
In conclusion, I give Breathe a two-thumbs up, and I strongly recommend this amazing dystopian novel to teens and adults alike!