Review of Breathe by Sarah Crossan

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I loved the cover on this YA dystopian science fiction book, so plucked it off the shelves hoping it was an engrossing read.

breatheWhen oxygen levels plunge in a treeless world, a state lottery decides who will live inside the Pod. Everyone else will slowly suffocate. Years later society has divided into Premiums and Auxiliaries. Only Premiums can afford enough oxygen to live a normal life. Dissenters to the regime are ejected from the Pod. Alina belongs to a rebel group and when one of her illegal expeditions to illegally harvest cuttings to grow trees ends in tragedy, her subsequent actions are set to uncover the shocking truth about the Pods.

This is a very interesting world. I really enjoyed the dynamic between the favoured few who have sufficient oxygen to exercise – and those who have to pace themselves because they are constantly coping on limited air. And when the twists come, it was initially quite a shock to discover exactly what was going on. The science is also secure on this one – I liked the way Crossan has woven in established fact in order to make this plot point work. Nicely done.

The teenage protagonists are all engaging and suitably hormonal. My personal favourite is Alina, but no one particularly jarred. However, the characters who crackled off the pages for me were Blue Maud, the drifter they discover outside the Pod, coping on an elderly solar-powered breather and Jazz, the small child looked after by the rebel gang. These two non-teen characters don’t take centre stage but for all that, they have an extra vividness that means they are the characters I recall most clearly now the book is over and done with.

The pacing is good and the book clips along at a fair rate, delivering plenty of adventure and racing towards a suitably climactic ending. If you enjoy dystopian science fiction tales of adventure that you can whizz through in a couple of sittings, then this may well tick your box.
8/10

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