- Sarah Crossan
Publisher: Bloomsbury - Released on 11th October 2012
Arc copy courtesy of Bloomsbury
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?
Engrossed from the first page, I read Breathe in one day – practically unheard of in recent memory! The story is compelling, the characters enticing and the world full of possibilities. After an environmental disaster people live in a dome, breathing manufactured air and paying for all oxygen they use. Society is divided by those who can afford to exercise and see some natural light at the border of the dome and those who have to pay for every energetic gesture. Alina is a member of an underground movement who wants to bring back trees and plants, Bea has lived by the rules all her life but has just learned she may never reach the upper levels of society, while Quinn was born into privilege but is determined to prove himself. Together they discover the truth and hope they can make a change to their world...
The writing is so involving – I lost all sense of my journey to work and lived and breathed with these characters. One element that I loved was how the characters all worry about things that teenager worry about – who am I? What do I do with my life? At the same time their romantic wants and desires are very relatable and makes them very human. I wanted to befriend them all as they all have different journeys. Quinn definitely starts out as the youngest of the three – the one with the least worries, but his development shows the making of the man he will become. These teens are not the best at what they do – but they try hard and that makes them appealing. I especially like Bea as she had tried so hard all her life in order to prove herself and live by the rules only to find that sometimes things are stacked against you no matter how hard you try.
There is some real jeopardy at time especially when the breathing masks run low on oxygen and it does make you feel grateful for every unregulated breath! There are some big changes towards the end of the book – and perhaps there are a lot of lucky coincidences for each of the leads, but the story ends in a very different place from where it began.
This is a Young Adult dystopian that manages to include many coming of age queries, but without hammering it home. The story and characters are great fun – it’s going to be a very long wait for the next book in the trilogy! Perhaps the most enjoyable dystopian adventure this year – I would heartily recommend picking this book up!
Recommended for fans of Veronica Rossi and Maria V Synder. 9 out of 10