Author: Sarah Crossan
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Series: Breathe (Book 1)
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 373 Pages
ISBN-10: 0062118692 (Harper Teen)
ISBN-13: 978-0062118691 (Harper Teen)
Reviewed by: Michelle
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?
Quick & Dirty: In this futuristic world, oxygen is in demand and only one company can supply. The elite are the only one that can afford that price, but the poor are the ones to pay.
Opening Sentence: Breathing is a right, not a privilege, so I’m stealing it back.
I love dystopians. Especially dystopians who have a conflict that relates to nature. In the case of Breathe by Sarah Crossan, she uses oxygen, or lack thereof, as the biggest obstacle. Breathing is something that many of us take for granted, and Crossan showcases that beautifully. The cover is fitting for the story, and lives up to the expectations.
Survivors of the Switch inhabit a glass dome. A company named Breathe has saved humanity and controls oxygen levels. Outside of the dome, nature has died, trees are non existent, and the masses are dependent on the only corporation who can supply oxygen. In this future, Crossan has devastated the world with over population, creating a supply and demand effect, and one that people definitely demand. Alina is the revolutionary, vowing to spread oxygen for free. Quinn is the privileged elitist, who is naive to the problems of the world. And Bea, is stuck in the power struggles of Breathe and the government, demanding oxygen like the rest of them.
Alina is a strong person, with a lot of defined values and beliefs. At first, I thought that she would be the written “enemy,” but I was wrong. Alina’s part in the story is about uncovering truths and reality checks. She was the voice of reason for the others. I liked how Alina was written to be feisty and filled with determination, but there was a point that she muddled through the story plot. For a moment, I lost sight of who she was, fearing that she would never show her bad self again.
Quinn was someone that I appreciated being written. He is the example of how the privileged live. Quinn is the son of an important person in Breathe, and really, he was naive to the outside world. Quinn had his eyes opened, in many occasions, and I cannot wait to see what role he plays in the future.
Bea was by far my favorite. She is smart, but is held back because of her social standing. It was a realistic portrayal of her social class, one that resonated within her personality throughout the story. At times, I felt she was whiny, but I think it added to her persona, and the possibilities of who her character can become.
I loved how Crossan wrote three characters with distinct personalities, belonging to different parts of society. The concept of the novel is different and unique, allowing the reader to engage and sympathize with the characters individually and collectively. The world within the dome and outside has it’s own distinct characteristics. And while a reader can choose where he/she would rather live, Crossan reveals enough to showcase variable pros and cons, but leaving enough for the rest of the series.
Crossan added many elements for the characters to fight against, but the fact that oxygen, the one thing that humans need to survive, was their biggest enemy, well that’s just genius. Even despite having to battle the politics and rule of Breathe, there was just no other way but to need oxygen.
I enjoyed most parts of Breathe, while I found some others too predictable. But I think that it was a smart move, giving the reader a form of familiarity with this world, in an otherwise unknown alternate universe. Breathe has a lot of promise and I cannot wait for the rest of the series.
“Do you have oxygen?” I ask Alina. Shaking a little, she pulls an air tank from her backpack, then attaches the cylinder to her hip using the belt. Once she pulls the transparent silicone mask over her mouth and nose, she tightens the straps at the back to ensure it is airtight. i take out my own tank and do the same.
When Bea gets through, she runs to us, though she shouldn’t and before I get a chance to speak, she throws herself at me. She presses into me so tightly it pinches. “Don’t break my ribs!” I say. I know she was worried. I don’t want to dwell on it. “I’ll help you with your mask,” I say. “We have to get going.
We walk down the sun-drenched glass tunnel — Bea, Alina, and me. We push open the revolving doors at the end. And we step, as one, into the airless planet.
2. Resist (October 2013)
FTC Advisory: Greenwillow/Harper Collins provided me with a copy of Breathe. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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