Breathe (Breathe #1)
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?
Fans of true dystopians will find elements to enjoy in BREATHE. All of the pieces are there: evil dictator/government, conspiracies to keep the government in power, a class system that keeps the people in their place, a growing resistance movement, secrets to uncover, and the gradual awakening of characters who'd formerly accepted their way of live as unchangeable.
The strength of this book is the action-packed plot. While the pacing feels a bit uneven, there's always something happening. From the first page to the thrilling climax, the conflict keeps escalating, the plot keeps twisting, and the stakes keep rising. The middle of the book had some difficulty maintaining my interest, but the climax is absolutely epic and will satisfy readers who've invested in the story all the way to the end.
The setting is described in vivid sensory details, making the entire story play out in the reader's mind like a movie. Readers will be as fascinated with life inside the dome as they will with the ruined cities outside of it. The author also does an excellent job of examining the class system that exists inside the dome. The idea of giving Premiums more access to oxygen (and therefore the ability to be alert and physically fit) than anyone else is a unique take on privilege.
What Left Me Wanting More:
The premise of this book is fascinating at the outset, but closer examination within the story itself raises problematic questions. This reader found it very difficult to believe that when the world faced a food shortage, their solution was to cut down every single forest to allow more land for farming. For one, we have a society that is highly focused on environmental concerns. For another, we have the scientific know how to develop ways to grow or manufacture more food--greenhouses in colder climates, genetically altered plants that will produce more etc. Having difficulty believing how the world in BREATHE came to be made it that much harder to invest in the story itself.
The characters of Bea, Quinn, and Alina each have their own chapters told from their own viewpoints, and they are virtually indistinguishable from each other. That made it difficult to stay in the flow of the story (when I suddenly realized I'd forgotten to look at the heading of the chapter to see who was speaking), and it also made it hard to fully connect emotionally with any of them.
Fans of true dystopians who love grand government conspiracies and plucky revolutionists will enjoy the action-packed plot.
The story is very similar to other dystopian novels out with those who fight against their world, those who use propaganda to keep people in line, and even deal with the same feelings/sentiments.
The three different points of view at times were kind of jarring. Alina, is the beautiful resistance fighter, who'll do anything to keep trees alive. Bea, is the 'good' girl who tries really hard to get out of second class, 'auxiliaries', where people struggle just to breathe. She does this by hoping to win at a debate and be on the prestigious Leadership Program that will help her parents have a better life. Quinn, is one of the privileged Premiums, and friend to Bea.
All these characters struggle in their own ways on either coping with their domed life or just surviving. They're forced to be with each other after a tragedy and find themselves outside the dome, which is nothing like Bea or Quinn had thought.
The back story on how this future came about is woven in without being too much of a back story dump. The only thing was I felt I'd read this story before and the oxygen premise at times wasn't enough to really set this story apart. The writing though kept me engaged with this fast paced futuristic tale. I also liked the relationship between Quinn and Bea which is kind of like a futuristic Romeo and Juliet story.
This is the first book in a series. I'm curious who'll survive after the climax of this tale--which I won't give away.
If you love dystopian tales with a hint of romance, give this one a try.
2. Three different POVs that actually work
3. Images of killing trees haunting
Bea and Quinn have been BFF's forever and of course, she's in love with him and he's as clueless as ever. (silly book boy) Air is the hot commodity that is controlled by the government and they decide who gets more and who doesn't If you're a Premium (like Quinn) your life is generally better and longer than say, Bea's who comes from the wrong side of the tram stop. While she may dream of a life with Quinn, it's really just that, a dream because Auxiliaries and Premiums don't belong together.
Quinn is your stereotypical rich boy whose oblivious to all he's privileged to and Alina, the beautiful girl Quinn falls for, is a rebel looking for change. If they were political parties, Alina would be the far left, Quinn the far right and Bea, the moderate that balances them out and helps them see reason. I found Quinn to be a bit of a whiner and it doesn't matter how hot a guy (or girl) is, whining is a downer. Alina may be pretty but her selfishness overpowers her beauty and I just didn't care for her. I liked Bea most because she's smart, compassionate, selfless and focused on the bigger picture, whereas the other two are too caught up in themselves to notice much else. (Potential spoiler - Quinn and Bea have known each other for YEARS and he doesn't know what color her eyes are. WHAT?!)
Alina is pining away for someone she believes is dead as a result of her choices and Quinn is caught up in playing Alina's knight in shining armor because he's convinced she's his dream girl. He eventually learns that what he's really looking for and what he needs has been in front of him all along but at what cost?
For as frustrating as this book was for me, all of the characters have opportunities to make changes for the better not only for themselves, but for the world around them too. This is part of a trilogy so it will be interesting to see how it all pans outs and who will survive.
It is a rather good plot playing on the ideas going around society today - if we cut down all the trees what will we do for oxygen? Crossan manages to weave a delicate complex story with well-developed characters that is enjoyable and engrossing. My favourite character is Alina but the two friends who rescue her from the law enforcers of the Pod smuggling her outside are also extremely like-able. All Crossan's characters are such that you want to find out what happened to them.
Breathe is one of those novels where the story is split between several viewpoints - in this case between Bea, Alina and Quinn (unfortunately not as fit as Quinn from the Night World series!)
Alina is the rebel, the one who knows what the Premium government are up to, whose dedicated her life to fighting it - despite the horrific consequences if she's found out (one of which is to be left slowly suffocating from lack of air on the Outside). She is very strong, and from the start of the novel is detached and unwilling to form any attachments to anyone, romantic or just friendly.
Bea is an Auxiliary who is best friends with a Premium. When she fails to gain admittance onto a program she should have got onto, and her friend does, she begins to doubt the fairness and validity of the whole set-up. Bea is very caring and isn't afraid to form attachments unlike Alina. Once she befriends Alina she begins to represent Alina's humane side making Alina more humane and less detached than she previously was.
Quinn is a Premium, son of one of the high-up politicians. He's friends with Bea and when she doesn't get on the above mentioned program he too begins to doubt the system. Bea and Quinn help Alina out of the Pod when she reveals she's in trouble to them - despite having never really met them before. Quinn is strong and brave but having been brought up by some-one who is in the corrupt system is unable to really believe that it is really corrupt until later on in the book.
I enjoyed Breathe and will look for the next book in the series and grew attached to the 3 main characters and their journey to reach the rebels. I think Crossan has managed to set herself up well for the next novel and I really want to read it now to find out how Alina gets on and whether the other two manage to catch up!
Alina is part of the resistance group which is those who opposes Breathe – the company that manufactures oxygen and you basically pay them to have oxygen a.k.a the bad guys. She is such a kick ass heroine but not my favorite character. There is a love interest in this book but there is also a twist in it which some of you may like or might find annoying and want to slap the guy a.k.a Quinn. This boy, he was an “alright” leading male. I didn’t really feel anything for him. The character that I felt for the most was Bea. She’s the one who changed the most in this novel. At first I didn’t like her but then as the story went on, I was surprised that I was liking her character more than the others.
I really enjoyed reading Breathe. It was such a fresh read and a great concept to write about. It’s not just a story; I think it gives the readers something to think about especially because today hundreds of trees are being cut down. I love how the beginning left me intrigued and the ending was just action packed. The only “ehh” part is I wasn’t really attached to the characters excluding Bea. There were also some inconsistencies, but if I point it out it would be a spoiler. You’ll see. Overall I recommend it to those who wants to read something new and to young adult lovers!
Three Narrators: I don't really feel one way or another about multiple narrators in general because I've read quite a few books that it's worked really well in and I don't think about it much otherwise. I'm not really such a fan in the case of Breathe, though. When I imagine the story without three narrators, it doesn't work and yet, I still don't care for it. Maybe it's because I really didn't like Alina. I would have been fine reading just Bea's point of view and I wouldn't even have minded an alternating Quinn and Bea, but I just really didn't like Alina.
Bea – I really liked Bea. Some people will probably complain about how quickly she changed sides, but I thought it was actually really refreshing. Normally the MC (especially girls) refuses to believe anything could be wrong with the system when their given clear proof there is. They sit there and live in their little world of denial for a good half of the book usually, but not Bea. Alina tells her of the corruption in the pod and the lightbulb immediately goes off in her head as she puts the pieces together. She did get a smidge desperate and whiny in the end, but considering the traumatic and dramatic changes in her life I can understand it.
Quinn – Quinn, on the other hand, refused to believe the corruption at first. I know he's been fed lies all his life, but so had Bea. He ends up coming around fairly quickly, though, so it really wasn't too bad. I found it mildly amusing how much he cared for Bea as a friend but was too blind to see that she was n love with him. Come on, dude, everyone else could see it.
Alina: The only real explanation I can think of for my dislike of Alina is how angry she is towards the beginning. She's really not a bad character and has a good amount of growth throughout the story, but she just didn't jive with me.
The backstory is pretty straight forward. The world got too full, they cut down on the trees in a fit of idiocy, and BAM no more air. Since there wasn't really anything I could get out of more backstory I was hoping for more info on the rest of the world or something. I know, I'm greedy with dystopian details.
The Nutshell: Breathe was an enjoyable read, but one that likely won't stick out in my mind. There was never really a “no way” moment for me and the story felt a little predictable, but it didn't hinder my overall enjoyment. Breathe is a nice, quick dystopian read, but much more (for me.)
The world is not like it used to be. All the trees are dead, and with their death came chaos. The world has no oxygen. The cities are built within a dome, with oxygen regulated by the Breathe officials. The people are divided into three groups of social standings, and freedom is a foreign word.
Alina is a rebel, set on bringing back the right way of life, the freedom that was taken from the people when Breathe came into power. Bea is a girl from the lowest class, where anything but regular breathing costs more than she can afford. She can’t dance or sing, simply because she doesn’t have enough oxygen. Her best friend Quinn, is from the rich class, so he puts together a trip for the two of them into the Outlands. Then Alina comes along, and that’s where the real story begins.
I loved everything about this book. I’m a huge fan of dual points of view, when it’s done right, and having three points of view was even better. I felt like Sarah did a great job with all three voices, brining the story to a whole new level. Alina is a tough girl. I liked her character and her no nonsense attitude. The only thing that I was a little put off of is the fact that every guy she met wanted to get with her. It was a bit of “Really? Again?”
Bea was a great character. I think she may be my favorite. I felt like we really saw her grow throughout the book. She’s the girl anyone can relate her, especially in her love life. She pushes thru the challenges, and takes on the role of protector and fighter. I loved this girl!
As for Quinn, oh Quinn! He’s a handful of emotions. He starts out like any other rich boy. However, he doesn’t end like it, which I loved. I enjoyed seeing him grow as a character, and I loved seeing his relationship with Bea. Those two has amazing chemistry, and they complimented each other in a way that made my heart smile.
The world of Breathe is both frightening and real. The journey the three must make in order to discover the truth behind the lies Breathe has been feeding them is beautiful and powerful. They have to learn things about themselves and each other, fighting for their right to breathe. After my little reading slump, this was just the book to excite me about stories again.