Friday, October 5, 2012

ARC Review: Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Publisher:  Greenwillow Books
Publication Date:  October 2nd, 2012

Inhale. Exhale. 
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?
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

**Thank you to Southern ARC Tours for the opportunity to read and review this book!!**

The synopsis of this book made me think this book could turn out either way- really cliche and painful to read, or really excellent; I had a feeling that there was not going to be any middle ground.  I was right...  The YA publishing industry is churning out Dystopia like nobody's business after the wild success of The Hunger Games, and I don't blame them- it sells.  That said, I've been becoming increasingly more wary of the genre, looking at it much like I did the Paranormal Romance genre in the wake of of Twilight's success, and I admittedly go into reading a new Dystopia with a little bit of an attitude problem.  Sometimes I think I may even be more critical of the books within the genre than I am of books in other genres because of it, and I feel bad because it is unfair to the author.  I am thankful to Sarah Crossan for writing a great Dystopian that hasn't been written, because I hate feeling guilty...

Breathe is a breath of fresh air.  (Sorry, I like puns, and that was just begging to be written!)  It is a YA Dystopia for the more intellectual, environmentalist set.  It is well researched, but at the same time, is written on a level that makes it possible for those who aren't into science to read and enjoy it.  It's also plausible.  Of the many books I've read in this genre (it is still one of my favorites, despite my misgivings), this one is one of the most conceivable scenarios I've read.  As humans, we consume; even when we are producing, we are not only consuming in the process, but creating something (or someone) that consumes.  We routinely kill off and pollute the very things that produce the oxygen that we need to survive, and I could totally see us dependent on corporate or government intervention in the future to meet this basic need if we continue the way we are.  No to get all soap-boxy...

So I have made my point clear that I think the plot is plausible, but is it well executed?  For the first few chapters, I was unsure.  My first impression was this that was going to be be an "evil greedy corporations" manifesto.  While there was a little of that, it was well balanced, and I thought it rang pretty true to to the direction our society is going in.  There was a lot of thought-provoking dialogue, not a lot of black and white, and tons of action to counter what could have ended up being a message-heavy book (read: kids won't like it).  It was well paced, told in alternate POVs, which really amped up the anticipation factor.  I also really liked the way the characters were drawn.  I liked that some of the villains were real people, and that some of the heroes were jerks.  Quinn's dad was a total villain in his job, but was a good dad; Petra, the leader of the rebel sect, was really a nutty bitch without much regard for people at all.  Both had good reasons for doing the things they did, even if I couldn't respect their reasoning.  As for the main characters...  I liked them.  A couple were a bit annoying at times, and the romance was a bit cliche, but in the end, I held most in a higher regard than when I started the book.  Maude was, by far, my favorite character.  I think her presence, and her unlikely relationship with Bea, took this book from a four-star rating to a 4.5 for me.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book.  It was smart and thought-provoking, without being too message-y for its intended audience.  The only thing that kept this book from being a five-star read was my intense dislike for one of the characters.  I'm not going to cloud your opinion by saying who, but it was just something I couldn't get past because of her role in the overall plot.  Even so, if you like a solid YA Dystopia, but are sick of The Hunger Games regurgitated,  check out Breathe.  Like I said, "A breath of fresh air!". (Sorry.  Too easy!)  I'm happy I did, and can't wait to read the sequel, Resist (out October 10th, 2013).

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ 

Grade Level Recommendation:  This book is pretty clean as far as sex and language are concerned, but it's violent.  Conservatively, I would say it is fine for 5th grade+ (ages 10 and up), but if your younger reader has been allowed to read The Hunger Games, this would be fine too.


  1. I am really excited for Breathe, I really want a fresh (ha!) different dystopian novel from the usual!

    great review

    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

  2. I'm glad to hear this is a good dystopian! I hear you on the genre flooding the market, although I haven't come across one I dislike yet. *crosses fingers* I do like your pun! Thanks for the great review. :D

    Jessica @ Thoughts At One In The Morning
    ~The Book Love Giveaway Hop Sign Ups~


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