Review: Breathe

Breathe by Sarah Crossan was released in the U.S. on October 2, 2012 in hardcover and eBook formats. It is currently available to order online in both formats at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Published by Greenwillow Books, the print edition is 384 pages.

Breathe is the first book in a new series by the author. The sequel, Resist, is slated for release on October 10, 2013.


Goodreads description:

Inhale. Exhale.
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?


What would you do if the very air you needed to breathe was regulated? If breathing too hard or too often was punished? If exercise was a luxury only a privileged few could indulge in?

What would you do if you couldn’t afford the air you needed just to survive? Would you work harder? Would you give up? Or would you join the resistance and fight?

And what would you do if you found out that there might be another way to breathe? That you wouldn’t have to rely on the limited quantities of manufactured air sold to you? That there was the possibility that you could breathe for free?

How far would you be willing to go for the promise of freedom? How much would you be willing to risk? Who would you be willing to lose?


Breathe is a fast-paced and engaging story with moments of nail-biting suspense, set in a world where the oxygen supply is severely limited, where the right to breathe is under the control of a power-hungry corporation and where the privileged are granted the ability to breathe more freely than those without means or connections.

The story unfolds through the eyes of three characters – Bea Whitcraft, Alina Moon and Quinn Caffrey – whose lives become intertwined after they leave the protection of their oxygen-controlled environment and head into the Outlands. For Bea and Quinn it was supposed to be a vacation. For Alina, a chance at survival.

But when Bea and Quinn step in to rescue Alina from certain death, they learn that everything they’ve believed is a lie. A lie that kept them afraid, kept them in line, and kept them prisoner. And if they want to break free, they’ll have to risk everything – their family, themselves, the very air they breathe.

Author Sarah Crossan has imagined a future that is frightening. One that is heartless and violent and isolated. One where the “good guys” and “bad guys” aren’t always so easily distinguishable. And one where just knowing how to breathe properly could mean the difference between life and death.

Breathe takes readers on a journey beyond the walled city the characters call home and into the Outlands. Through the abandoned and decaying cities that existed before The Switch. Before the oxygen supply began to shrink. Before the trees died off. Before humans were forced to rely upon manufactured air.

It tells the story of this future society that exists almost at the point of hopelessness. It tells the story of three very different characters who haven’t yet given up.

Quinn is one of the privileged. His future is set. He would never be at risk of running out of breathable air. And yet it’s not enough.

Bea just wants to follow the rules. Get ahead. Free her parents from their grueling jobs and meager existence. But nothing she’s done seems to be enough.

Alina is willing to take almost every risk to breathe free. Almost. But the wall she built around her heart to keep people out may just not be strong enough.

Exciting and suspenseful, Breathe is an easy to love story that can be devoured in one sitting. And while not every question will be answered, not every loose end tied up, readers will not be left hanging off the side of a cliff at the story’s end. But they will have a new adventure to look forward to in the sequel.

Reviewer gives this book…

Loved it!

On a personal note:

I had been desperate to read this book ever since I first checked out its description. The idea of a world with limited oxygen is so unbelievably scary that I couldn’t wait to meet the characters who had to exist in such a world.

And the fact that they were courageous enough to leave the protection of their city and venture forth into the lands beyond made them instantly brave and fearless in my mind. It made them the kinds of characters I love to read about.

So, when I picked up BREATHE, I devoured it in record time. Because I wanted to know  what happened to Alina, Quinn and Bea. I wanted to find out if they survived and how they survived. I wanted to see just what the world was like in the Outlands.

And most of all I wanted to know if they’d find enough oxygen to be able to breathe.

BREATHE answered all of my questions. It introduced me to three characters that I liked for very different reasons. It showed me a society that was deceived and oppressed, with leadership that was quite chilling in its craftiness and callousness. Both from those in power and those in the rebellion. And it made me appreciate every breath I take.

I found the story incredibly easy and quick to read. I loved how the author handled the oxygen situation. I was captivated yet horrified by the way the world had devolved into the tiny pockets of survivors that remained. And I hoped that there would be something in the Outlands or beyond that would mean things weren’t as dire as they appeared to be.

What I had not realized – though I really should have – was that the story would be told from those three characters’ points of view. When I first discovered that it was, I was worried. I don’t typically like stories told from multiple POVs because it keeps me from connecting with the story and characters in the way that I would if it were told from just one or even two perspectives. But I had no reason to worry.

I loved getting a peek at the story from all three characters’ perspectives. Bea, Quinn and Alina had such different personalities, came from such different circumstances and at times were involved in distinctly different events, that it gave the story a broader scope and let me, the reader, see more of the world than I otherwise would have.

I thought the transitions were timed perfectly. At no point did I find myself pulled out of the story when it shifted. There were even moments when I was so glad the perspective changed so I could see that moment from a different POV and not just the one.

Even with the breaks in viewpoint I was able to connect with the characters. While not as deeply with any as I might have if the story had been told by just one, the tradeoff was more than worth it. Because if I hadn’t been able to see things from all three perspectives I would have been left in the dark about certain events. Events that I’m much happier having had answers to quickly rather than having been left biting my nails in suspense.

Of the three characters, Bea Whitcraft was my favorite. She was kind and caring, if a bit of a worrier, and she was a girl who preferred to play by the rules and not make waves. But she wasn’t a total pushover. Her unfailing loyalty made her brave and made her take chances when she otherwise may not have.

I loved being able to see things through her eyes and also see them through Quinn’s. Especially when they thought about each other. Because there was a bit of an unrequited love story in BREATHE. One I’ll say no more about.

What I did find to be a bit of a hurdle was the reason behind two of the three characters – Bea and Quinn – heading into the Outlands and taking the risks they did. I expected there to be more of an urgency for all three characters to be willing to take those chances, versus just Alina. And based upon the description I thought it was going to be much more of a rescue mission for a love interest versus risking life and limb for someone practically unknown.

But once the story moved beyond that, which was very early on, I found myself easily caught up in the journey, anxious for each of the characters and curious to discover more about this oxygen-limited world.

While it doesn’t end on a cliff, it did end with a new adventure in its sights. One that I am very much looking forward to going on… and just a little bit anxious about… when the sequel releases next year.


Favorite passage:

There were two passages that made me sigh, but as they are slightly spoiler-y I just can’t include them with the review. Of course they both involve Quinn. But neither are my most favorite.

That one is below…

I don’t want to hear about all the people who chose death. I don’t want to hear about the despair. I need to believe. Without hope, what do we have?

This review is based in part on an ARC I received as a gift from another blogger and in part on the finished eBook I purchased.

Previous Post Next Post

You may also like