Series: Breathe, #1.
Author: Sarah Crossan.
Publication Date: October 2nd, 2012.
Format: Paperback, 384 pages.
Source: Provided By Publisher.
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.
The world is in disrepair. Global warming has devastated the entire planet and the humans have cut down all the trees as the population grew. The seas have been polluted and destroyed and the oxygen levels are incredibly low. The remaining survivors have found a way to survive; Pod’s have been erected around the globe by the Corporation Breathe. Inside the Pod’s, the survivors breathe in clean and clear air, although it’s limited. You can’t run, dance, sing or do anything that’ll use up extra oxygen if you’re an “Auxiliary” – a person who is as low down on the totem pole as you can get. These people have to pay for their air, and get taxed if they use more than their daily allowance.
Premiums however, don’t have to pay for their air – these people are right at the top and as rich as can be. The Premiums can do whatever they like, and are treated with respect. Our story follows three teenagers who venture out of the pod; Quinn, who is a Premium, Bea; Quinn’s best friend who is an Auxiliary and Alina; who’s part of the Resistance. Together, with only two days worth of air strapped in tanks to their backs, the three try to work together to save the rest of the people in the Pod from the Breathe Corporation.
Wow, this book was incredible, with such an original storyline too! At random intervals during this novel, I was a bit sceptical as to what direction it was heading in, but it always worked out – and I don’t believe it could have been written differently. The book is rather fast paced, moving from one scene to another quite quickly, building suspense and drawing it out at times. Sometimes it felt like one minute the characters were eating their dinner and the next something explodes or someone dies – but I didn’t mind this at all.
The novel is broken down into multiple view points of our three main characters; Quinn, Bea and Alina. I love reading the different characters perspectives of what’s happening and how they’re really reacting to situations around them. A lot of the time, people mask their true feelings; they could be happy on the outside, yet drowning in grief on the inside. So it’s always great to read how the other characters are actually feeling for a change, rather than a guessed analysis from another character.
First off, we have Quinn – a Premium. The Premium’s are the elite kind; the people who are high up on the totem pole and are very, very rich. Quinn’s father works for the Breathe Corporation and can provide his family with as much oxygen as they want. Although he comes from a high-class background, Quinn is nowhere near stuck up and doesn’t take what he has for granted. He always wants to help his best friend, Bea – paying for their oxygen for their camping trip they take outside the Pod and caring profusely for Bea, like she were his sibling. Many of the times whilst I was reading Quinn’s point of view, I found myself laughing. He’s such an upbeat person with a good sense of humour, yet fails to see how Bea really feels about him. Honestly! Why are men so blind?
Secondly we have Bea, who was my favourite character. Bea is an “Auxiliary”, the lowest of the low - way down on the totem pole of society. She keeps her head down and tries not to use up excess oxygen her family can’t afford to pay for. Bea’s a kind-hearted, helpful and good person, who may seem like a goody-two-shoes at times, but in reality she’s actually just following her heart and listening to her conscience. I really respect that about Bea’s character, she’s grown up believing all the lies that have been fed to her, yet when she starts learning the truth, she strives to do what’s right. Bea is also hopelessly in love with Quinn, her best friend. Unfortunately for her, he’s as dense as a brick when it comes down to it. Poor girl! So, I think it’s pretty hard not to love her character.
Lastly we have Alina. Alina is part of the Resistance, a group of people that has taken a stand against the Pod’s government, most of whom live outside the Pod in the outlands. The resistance wants to plant trees and plants, and has been doing so, trying to keep them away from the destructive hands of the Pod’s Government. I didn’t particularly like Alina’s character very much if I’m perfectly honest. Although she was on the lower end of the totem pole in the Pod, an “Auxiliary”, she really irritated me for some reason. I did like her a bit more as the book progressed, she became less hostile and bit more friendly and caring - but she was hardly my favourite character of the week. Over all I just thought she was a bit stuck up and a bit of a snob.
The romance in this book was very minimal, which is usually a bit of a downer to me - however, Bea is deeply devoted to Quinn, and Quinn can’t seem to take his eyes off Alina’s ‘assets’. Quinn’s attitude around Alina is hilarious and although I’m a big sucker for romance, I didn’t mind that this book was lacking in it. There were still the soppy and romantic thoughts from Bea randomly throughout the book and the hilarity of Quinn trying way too hard to impress Alina. These kept me going whilst reading it, and I loved the ending.
Overall, the characters weren’t hugely developed, but I thought that the pace and excitement throughout the novel made up for it. I rated this book as 4/5 stars, mainly because I would of loved to read more about the world building with more detail, rather than just a page of two of writing about how the Pod came to be. Also, I do think that the story was a little lacking in emotion – with all the murder, lying and the inability to breathe outside the pod. I feel it could have been played up a bit more, not so much to a point where it would wrench your heart out - but so you could feel the characters pain more. I do hope the sequel will be more developed and built upon.
Still, I found this novel amazing and I really loved it, Sarah Crossan’s writing is intriguing, interesting and brilliant. I can’t wait for the sequel to be released so I can get my hands on it and devour it!