Book Review: Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Breathe (Breathe, #1)
By: Sarah Crossan
Published by Greenwillow Books
Release Date: October 2, 2012
Genre: YA dystopian
400 pages 
Buy it on Amazon, IndieBound,
 or Barnes and Noble
Source: kindly provided by publisher

My thoughts: 
If I weren't a teacher, or if it wasn't the beginning of a new school year, I may well have read this one in a day. 

This book is smart, action-packed, horrifying, and SO GOOD. The story focuses on a future Earth that has been all but destroyed by deforestation. With the oxygen-producing trees gone, the atmosphere is no longer able to sustain human life. Artificial domed environments are produced, and people begin living in a bubble of their own creation.

This society has in place a severe social caste system, in which the rich live the high life, while the lower-class workers live in tiny spaces, eating little more than strictly necessary, and using as little oxygen as possible. These "subs" cannot afford to strenuously exercise or have large families because of the expense of the oxygen. 

The story is told by several different narrators, affording the reader multiple perspectives at once. In some books, this tactic is distracting for me; in Breathe, in works. In fact, I don't know that it would be possible to learn everything you need to know about this world without telling it through multiple voices. The different classes, as well as the perspective of the Resistance movement, are crucial to understanding the social dynamic of this society.

The idea of living every day under the threat of a reduced oxygen supply is in itself enough to make me nervous; the thought of going out to explore the Outlands with only the air I can carry in a tank on my back is terrifying. The concept of having our ability to breathe freely threatened drives the action of this plot, and keeps the dramatic tension at a deliciously high level.

One thing that bugs me with some dystopians is the predictability of the storyline; many are quite formulaic. There were several surprises in Breathe, which was an enjoyable discovery. 
Though this part of the story is wrapped up well in this volume, there are avenues available for development in the rest of the series. If Crossan plays her cards right, we could be looking at an excellent series that will become a quick favorite for a wide audience.

This is a 2012 YA dystopian must-read. In fact, it's likely to be found on several "best of" lists this year. 

Summary 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. 

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.

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. 

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?


  1. This book sounds wonderful! It kind of reminds me a bit of Pure.

    Great review. :)

  2. Commenting to add: This would be an excellent selection for a reluctant reader, male or female. I highly recommend!


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