Thursday, 23 May 2013

Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Title: Breathe
Author: Sarah Crossan
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Released: October 2nd 2012
Pages: 384 (Paperback)
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US
Add on Goodreads

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.

I have read countless reviews praising Breathe, exclaiming how amazing it was, so I couldn't help but go into the novel with high expectations. The cover is gorgeous, the synopsis hints at an exciting and intricate storyline - but the delivery was completely lacking.

Breathe is set on a future Earth, where all trees have been eradicated from the environment, meaning that no one can survive outside. Or so that is what the citizens of the Pod are led to believe. A resistance campaign knows otherwise - there are trees out there, but the government kill any off so that they will remain in control of the citizens. Alina is part of the resistance  but during a tree-clipping mission, she is caught. On the brink of imprisonment, she recruits the help of two residents of the Pod, and together they set off to try and save the citizens from the government's lies, before it is too late.

I immediately liked Crossan's idea for this dystopia, as it was a unique but very realistic issue. As a teenager at school, I know how much we get lectured about the importance of trees, and Crossan brought to life how deforestation could result in some severe measures.

Breathe was told from multiple POVs - I'm not usually the greatest fan of multiple views, as it can get very confusing and the characters can blend. This is exactly what happened here, and even though Quinn was a boy, I couldn't really tell the difference. Each of the three main protagonists were written exactly the same, and so seemed quite similar and boring. There was also a very typical love triangle between them all - Bea was the quiet, studious best friend, who was in love with rich-boy (but obviously genuine) Quinn who didn't even known she existed and had a crush on badass and sexy Alina. It was all just so obvious and done a gazillion times. From such a unique idea, I guess I expected more.

Although the idea was great, the plot wasn't too good. It was mostly them walking around, with a bit of guns and teenage angst mixed in. Admittedly, the climax was much better than some of the other main events of the book, but it still failed to get me excited.

I think the only way I can describe the reason for my disappointment with this book is the fact that I felt there was a barrier between the story and the reader. When I read a good book, I feel like I've been fully immersed into it, and am experiencing the story alongside the characters rather than reading it. I didn't get this was Breathe - I was painfully aware that I was reading it, and it just didn't grasp my attention. I think the idea was really good, and possibly one of the best dystopian ideas I've seen around - the delivery just wasn't quite on the mark. If you've read the synopsis and are interested in reading this, then do - I haven't read many bad reviews, so maybe my opinion is in the minority  Unsure. Either way, I personally found it lacking, but who knows, maybe it'll be your book of the year?
Rating: 2/5


  1. I remember looking at this when it first came out and deciding to pass. I think I'm just so burnt out on least for now. The premise is interesting, but it also sounds trite--especially when you through in the obligatory triangle. I'm usually a fan of multiple POVs, but they do have to be done well. What's the point if all the voices sound the same? I do love the cover, though. Great review!
    -Natalie @Natflix&Books

    1. Good thing you passed, too! It was just a bit same-old, really.