When I picked this up in my local library, I had already seen some glowing reviews on the blogosphere. Yet on reading the blurb, thinking it sounded pretty good - something I would like, there was still something nagging in me that I shouldn't read this. Was it because I have a zillion other books of my own to read? Was it that I had banned myself from going to the library so I could read those said books? Was it the books waiting to be read on my Kindle?
Who knows. Anyway, I think it's plain to see I did get this out of the library in the end. This book is new and for bloggers like me, who receive little review copies, I knew this would be one of the only chances to read a book I might end up loving FOREVER. I'm so glad I didn't go with my gut feeling.
Synopsis: Imagine the world living in a plastic bubble with oxygen being pumped in because that is the only way to survive.
Set in the future, this is what Earth has come to. The world is dead, there is little oxygen under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that discovered a way to survive, each city lives in pods, on the outskirts of the devastation and remains of cities. For Quinn, Bea and Alina, this is reality.
When Quinn proposes a camping trip outside the pod, Bea doesn't refuse. She wants to spent some time with Quinn, alone, hoping he will finally notice her. However, at the border, they run into Alina, a secret Resistance member on the run from the government. She is also the one Quinn thinks is his dream girl. The planned trip that Bea imagined is turned upside down as they learn about the secrets Breathe have been hiding.
Review: Despite my hesitated thoughts before starting this book, I actually really enjoyed it. I've read many dystopian series over the years of blogging - some are very good, some not so good, yet this book belongs in the former category.
The aspects of this novel that hooked me was both the characters and the world that Sarah Crossan expertly portrays. The idea behind Breathe is clear and something relevant to today. Although we're not on the verge of a world without trees and oxygen, the whole topic of deforestation, toilet roll companies promising to plant 3 trees for every tree they manufacture - it is all something that is considered and talked about today and that is the idea that gripped me throughout this novel. Outside the pod, the characters within Breathe go through the destruction of a town, which to me sounded a lot like London, especially the frequent mention of The Grove (which is the Arsenal football stadium) which was nice to see.
The characters are all very diverse and interesting and it is them that made the book for me. There is Alina, a lovely, feisty girl who is fighting against Breathe to try and expose them. There is also Bea, a loyal girl from the lower-class Zone 3, eager for Quinn to realise that she likes him much more than a friend. And finally, Quinn himself from Zone 1, the guy who has everything due to his father working for Breathe. He's never had to worry about oxygen, breaking rules or money, although his father is a bit of a creep. He is best friends with Bea, the one he can tell everything to, and on his unexpected meeting with Alina, he falls for her beauty and decides that she is 'the one'. For me, I found Bea the most interesting and the one that learns and develops the most out of the three. My only problem with Quinn is that I felt he could have been developed a little more - he was a little forgettable at the beginning compared to the strong characters of Bea and Alina.
The plotline was littered with surprising (and unsurprising) twists and turns. This is not a novel that you will know the ending before you reach it. There are a number of revelations that I would not have guessed at the beginning and at times I was seriously worried how the characters would get out of certain situations. Crossan certainly keeps you guessing until the final page. My only blunder would be that I felt the story was incredibly interesting and well-written from the beginning until the middle. Then, for me, there was a small section between the middle and end which I lost a little interest, got confused or just didn't enjoy it as much as the initial journey and experiences on the outside.
The ending is something that I think was done considerably well - both leaving a slight cliffhanger yet you also know where/what the characters are about to do. The ending, while sad in some ways, was also quite uplifting despite the destruction throughout the novel (once you have read it, you'll understand what I'm referring to).
The book surprised me to say the least, yet it was a good surprise. I really enjoyed this dystopian and I will definitely be reading the next in the series to find out what happens next to Alina, Bea and Quinn. Although I think Quinn could initially be developed more, I liked his bravery and persistence by the end, the same for Bea and Alina. One of the best dystopians of the year, by far.
I give it a 4 out of 5
Author's Website: http://www.sarahcrossan.com/
The next book in the series, RESIST, will be released in Autumn 2013 (TOO LONG TO WAIT)