Review: Breathe – Sarah Crossan.

Synopsis from Goodreads.
Inhale. Exhale. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe . . .
The world is dead.
The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.
ALINA 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.
QUINN 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.
BEA 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?

After I finished this book, I started thinking about how sometimes writers, who are known for a particular genre, suddenly decide to write something different and how odd it is. I guess there are obvious genres a writer can go into. Fantasy authors are comfortable writing sci-fi. Horror authors can write paranormal books.
But verse novels to dystopia? I was sceptical, to say the least.

This book was… alright. I’ve read a lot of dystopian books and I’m beginning to feel a bit disillusioned. I think dystopians and me… well, we need to break up for a bit. I need to take a step back…look after myself, see other genres, eat chocolate… the usual.
While the story of Breathe was ok and relatively different to other dystopians out there, I can’t really say that it brought anything new to the genre.
In the YA house party, the dystopians are the cool kids that stand around in the kitchen, making people feel uncomfortable and inadequate when they go in for some more vodka. They’re loud and everyone knows who they are even if they’re not in that group and they’re exciting and everyone wants to be in their gang. But then, if you get to know them a bit you realise that they’re… all.. well… kind of the same. They do the same things. They say the same things. And they can’t take their alcohol. And they inadvertently grope you when you try and grab a handful of party rings.
I guess I’m just getting a bit tired of them. Maybe it’s because I don’t have as much time to read as I used to, but I’m starting to actively seek books that are different and challenge me as a reader. I want books that tell a different story, have different kinds of characters. Maybe I’m just a renegade YA reader but I want to be genuinely shocked at plot twists; I don’t just want a story that relies on a love interest who’s strong and serious (and a bit dull), a feisty heroine and a grouchy government.
I think I just want to hang out in the garden, taking hilarious pictures and sharing a bottle of wine and talking about life with the contemporaries.

But, this wasn’t a complete write-off for me. Ms Crossan can write, it’s obvious that she can. She has a story and she tells it. Whether or not I believed in the story is beside the point. I read this book in a day, while the Olympics were on. Whether I want to admit it or not, this book had my attention.

Alina was… was, well she’s OK. Of course she was a badass and of course she was feisty and of course she was beautiful and of course everyone loved her. I’m just getting a bit bored of these girls who want to start revolutions but then end up getting everyone into a pickle because they’re a bit dim and there’s a hot boy involved. I think we started off on the wrong foot and, unfortunately, we never recovered. I didn’t really feel like she added much to the story and I can’t decide why. I have theories about the next book and I’m guessing that we’ll get to hear more about her in the next book.

Luckily, we have Bea. Oh Bea, how I adored you. Yeah, you get a bit giddy over The Boy, and we’ll talk about him later, but on the whole you were a wonderful character. Smart, caring and really adorable.

Right, Quinn, we’ll deal with you shall we? As far as YA boys go, you’re alright. There were things I didn’t like which I’m going to talk about… now.

SPOILER.

You’re best friends with a girl and you love being around her and you punch boys who get a bit flirty with her… and you go on and on about how much you love Alina and you perve at her bum when she’s walking. But all that’s OK because at the end, you finally open your eyes (which we’ll talk about later) and snog her and then you’re a couple?
Please, Bea. You should’ve made him work harder! He doesn’t even know what colour your eyes are! I wasn’t buying it. As much as I love the shy girl getting the guy she’s pined over for yonks, I’m not entirely sure that Quinn deserved Bea. I almost wanted Bea to kiss him and wipe her mouth and be like “Oh, so that’s what it’s like to kiss you? Meh, I’ve had better!” and then skip off.

END OF SPOILER. 

(Except within the spoiler I mention Quinn’s eye colour…. which isn’t a spoiler… but this next bit will make no sense. Like this sentence…)

Also, clay coloured eyes. I know when it dries clay kind of goes grey but clay to me, is… well, it’s orange. So Quinn has orange eyes? Am I just thinking about his eyes too much? Possibly, but I have been brought up to know the importance of the colour of a Young Adult boy’s eyes.

Yes, I kind of wished that the love story had been developed for a bit longer because, like I always seem to chat on about, I like slow-burning love stories. We have two more books to go and unless you throw in a sexy Drifter to mix it up a bit because I can’t say I’m entirely excited for the kissy sappiness for two more books.
But hey, that’s just me.

I guess I was also a bit confused about the world in Breathe. I know it’s a bit unfair to say this because I know that this is the first book in a trilogy and I’m guessing the questions I have will be answered eventually but I found it really hard to picture this pod that they all lived in. I wanted to know more about The Switch and I found the explanation of why it all came about a bit unsatisfactory. I got it, I think, but I still don’t understand how no one was like “Hey, maybe we should like…. Save a few trees. Just a little bit. Maybe just a sapling…?”

I think that Sarah Crossan is a better writer than this book. Actually, I know she is because The Weight of Water was stunning and incredibly original. To me, anyway, this book fell a bit flat. It was exciting enough and it was well written, but it hasn’t left a lasting impression on me and will probably lose itself in the masses of dystopian books published every year.

Now, a dystopian book written in verse? That would have had my attention…

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

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5 thoughts on “Review: Breathe – Sarah Crossan.

  1. I am a sucker for apocalypses involving domes. (Yes, I know this is weird.) So, I’m planning on reading this. But, I will admit that when I saw who the author was, I got all excited because I assumed it was a dystopian novel in verse, which would be so flipping rad, I have no words to describe the potential awesomeness. I was totally bummed when I discovered that it was regular ol’ prose.

  2. Amazing review, Jo! I’ve seen quite a few reviews of this one where the readers were disappointed and like you, I’m getting tired of the same-old formulaic dystopian novels. Even if they do have intriguing ideas, it’s always the execution or the characters or the way the romance overshadows everything else that ultimately brings it down, so I know exactly what you mean. I’m feeling like the only way to get originality is if I stick to reading solely Australian Novels! >.< I think I'll be skipping this one for sure though. It just isn't my cup of tea, so I think I'll be taking that dystopian break-up right along with you! ;)

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