“ Author: Sarah Crossan / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 11 October 2012 / Genre: Crime & Thriller / Subcategory: Adventure Stories / Category: Thrillers / Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC / Title: Breathe / ISBN 13: 9781408827192 / ISBN 10: 1408827192 „
* Prices may differ from that shown
Having spent much of my adult life reading detective thrillers with a 'who dunnit' concept, I've recently become bored of this genre after guessing nearly all of the endings! I decided I needed to branch out and as chick lits aren't really my thing, I was struggling to find books that I would enjoy. After a friend recommended the Hunger Games trilogy I have become hooked on dystopian books and have amassed quite a collection on my iPad. Last night I finished the latest book, Breathe by Sarah Crossan, which I thoroughly enjoyed and was rather disappointed to see that the next instalment is not due for release until Autumn next year.
'The Switch' happened many years ago when oxygen levels within the world as we know it plummeted to such low levels due to pollution, that trees could not exist and levels plummeted. A state lottery decided who could live inside the Pod, a state led new world where there is a definitive line between the Auxiliaries and the Premiums. Premiums are healthy and strong, given an enjoyable life where they do not need to worry about the price of oxygen, while Auxiliaries cannot exercise, dance, kiss, for fear of running out of oxygen as the price of oxygen tax for these luxuries is something they cannot afford. Everything is controlled. Opposition to the regime is not allowed and is heavily punished. The 'terrorists' form a secret resistance where they do everything within their power to allow trees to grow, and they train themselves to exist on the extremely low levels of oxygen in the world outside of the Pod.
The concept itself is, in my opinion, a very good one, and one that actually could be feasible. The characters are okay, likeable, but a little too young for my liking. The book is a fiction novel for young adult readers however, so I think it's me that's too old as opposed to the characters that are too young! It didn't actually feel too much like a young adult novel for me, yes there is a love interest which I can give or take in a book, but the general concept was quite deep and definitely thought provoking, with elements of courage, loyalty and freedom. I think the book would make an excellent film, and given the popularity of Dystopian novels at the moment, I wouldn't be too surprised if this does end up on the big screen in the not too distant future, following along the lines of The Hunger Games.
Sarah Crossan has a way of writing that isn't complex in any shape or form. It's not trying to be something it's not and it is a nice easy read that you can sink your teeth into. I really enjoyed reading the book and imagining this new world. When parts of the book are set outside of the Pod, it describes the world as we know it today but completely desolate with no forms of life. It is interesting to imagine walking through a town and seeing abandoned cars covered in ivy, or decaying buildings, but through the book I struggled to work out if it was meant to be set in the UK or America as I didn't know anything about the author. I did waver towards the UK, as a football stadium is described that sounded very much like Arsenal but what do I know?! I was correct it would seem, after googling Crossan, I found out she is actually Irish so most likely set in the UK.
Each chapter of the book is written in the first person narrative by one of the main three characters. This did take a little while to get used to in the beginning when the characters were new, and I expected to find it difficult to differentiate between the two female characters but this wasn't a problem. Quinn, the main male character is a Premium and knows little suffering or poverty. He also knows little about love though and struggles to strike up a bond between his parents, particularly his father who is a high ranking government official. Bea is a bit of a drip in the beginning and I found her quite annoying initially but this did wear off and I began to warm to her. As an auxiliary she has had a hard life but always stayed true to the Pod and what it stood for, until she realises the Government may be controlling more than just the oxygen levels. Alina is a rebel and will fight for the cause no matter the consequences.
The book is paced fairly fast and there is always lots going on, but it's easy to keep up with and there doesn't feel like there has been any filling.
I can't find any fault with this book but for some reason it just doesn't quite seem a 5 star. Something ever so slight is missing, but I can't put my finger on what that is.....
The first book in the trilogy, I will look forward to book two.
£3.29 Kindle edition (Amazon).
About the book
Breathe is the first book in a new series by Sarah Crossan. The book was published by Bloomsbury on 11th October and the book is 384 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an ARC for review.
Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
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?
What I thought
I've had this book sitting around for months now, ever since I came back from having a blogging break. For some reason, I just didn't fancy it. Then when it was time to start something new I decided to give this one another look over and I actually thought very differently about it. I don't have as much time now for reading, due to having so much uni work to do, so this one took me a little while to get through, only reading a bit before bed each night.
Breathe is told from multiple narratives. Quinn is a Premium who comes from a rich family has looks to have a bright future ahead of him. Bea is Quinn's best friend and also an Auxiliary, coming from a family struggling to survive. And then there is Alina, a member of the resistance, someone trying to save the world and expose Breathe for what it really is. I like multiple narratives in books although there aren't too many where there are more than two narrators. However, I think this was necessary with Breathe. All three characters are so different and have such a large part in the story.
I'm not sure if I could pick a favourite out of all three though. Each character had something special and unique to offer the story and each had something really likeable about them. Quinn is not like other Premiums, which is easy to see through his friendship with Bea. While he has some quite selfish characteristics, he is also sweet and brave and quite fearless. In her narrative, Bea is completely honest and I respected her for that. She was an easy character to get to know as she laid her heart and mind bare in this book. Then there is Alina. While I shouldn't really like her, using people to get what she wants, there was a bigger reason behind her actions which is why I did like her. The things she did were for the greater good and not entirely selfish at all.
What I really loved about this book though was the plot. Set in a world where trees don't exist anymore, where people live in a pod surviving on oxygen tanks and there being a very clear class ranking, this is one of the most probable dystopian books I have read. If the all of the trees really did get wiped out, we would definitely have trouble surviving. Breathe shows the possibilities of someone else having control over people's lives, pretty much deciding who lives and who doesn't. Although the message isn't too pushy and in your face, there is a nice moral here about looking after nature and the planet as it will make it last longer.
Set both in the world of Breathe and the outside world, Sarah Crossan shows how differently life could be for people. I loved getting to learn about the outside world and what was happening to the people without oxygen supplies. The outside world also provided a really exciting plot, with numerous twists and turns. This was by far the most exciting part of the book as I got to learn so much more about the whole world that had been created. Being quite a chunky book, there is a lot that happens but the pacing is done well so there are some slower parts mixed in with some fantastic drama.
I thoroughly enjoyed Breathe and I cannot wait for the next instalment in the series.