29 December 2013

Breathe - Sarah Crossan

Humans have devastated the earth, and now there is not enough oxygen to breathe. Instead of living freely, humans exist inside giant bubbles on the earth's surface, where machines pump in oxygen recycled from the air outside. Quinn is a Premium and has lived with the luxury of surplus air for exercise, and for having siblings. Bea is an Auxiliary, an only child who only wants to be ale to afford enough oxygen to allow her parents to dance with each-other, and yet the two of them are best friends and everything is running smoothly. That is, until Quinn meets the mysterious Alina, and then life takes a drastic turn for the worse, where the three end up on the run from pod officials, outside with only a few hours air to breathe.

Breathe is certainly a very thought-provoking book. It could easily be what could happen if we chop down too many trees, provided we work out a way to manufacture oxygen quickly. It really makes you think about what we are doing to this world as a whole, how we are destroying our resources but not doing a thing to restock them. There are too few environmentalists and too many people in the trade for profit, rather like the world in this book. Only now the environmentalists are radical thinkers, and the businessmen detain those under the dome.

The story got very involved, very fast. In the first chapter, we read about two teenagers, then in the next chapter we hear about a different two; it was enough to make my head spin. Eventually you realise who is meant to be what, and what you've already read about them adds up. But for the most part, the beginning was actually quite confusing and this didn't endear me to the book. However, since the story was so fast-paced, it kept interesting the whole way through, and the climax was very good. It keeps you turning pages to the very end.

Although Bea and Quinn do undertake journeys in their character, especially Quinn, I didn't feel that they meant a great deal. It was like the characters' thoughts were changed rapidly to push the plot along, rather than having any real epiphany. There seemed to be no confusion of the issue, only acceptance about the way things really were; this should have been developed as it is not realistic. Alina, on the other hand, does not appear to make a journey in terms of her character. She is apparently unaffected by the friends she has made, the death she has caused and the war she has started. I hope that in the next book we see much more in the way of character development.

This book is a teen fiction, and as I am an adult I can say that it is clearly not aimed at me. Therefore my opinion is much more critical than the average teenager. A 14-year old who loves dystopian fiction and sci-fi would utterly love this book. As for me? I give it a 6 out of 10.

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