Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Breathe by Sarah Crossan

 Trees and oceans were destroyed, and oxygen levels plummeted.  The only way to survive was to be one of the lucky ones selected to live in one of the pods, where the organization Breathe could pump air in.  Many years later, Alina is a member of the Resistance, trying to regrow trees outside the pod, but the ministry is on to her.  With the help of an unsuspecting Premium boy Quinn, and his suspicious auxiliary friend Bea, Alina escapes from the pod.  Now they're all on the run, having learned the terrible secrets behind Breathe.

I enjoyed this.  It was a good story, although things fell apart at the end a bit I thought.  It has all the elements YA readers will like: dystopian future, fighting back against those in power, and a love triangle, of sorts.  Quinn has a crush on Alina, who isn't interested, and Bea is in love with Quinn, who's oblivious.  I guess that's not a triangle at all.  It's a line of unrequited love.

I thought the world that had been created was good, although a little weak on how it got that way.  All that's mentioned is that the population exploded, and more and more trees were cut down so housing could be built, under the assumption that the oceans could handle the oxygen needs, but it couldn't and the oceans sickened or something and then people started dying.  It was a little weak and not all that clear.  I'm not sure if that's just due to not great world building, or if we're being deliberately kept in the dark.  I think it might be not great world building.

The world inside the pod is quite interesting though.  We understand that there are pods such as this all over the world, and they operate of caste systems.  The Premiums have the most money and the most access to air.  They can afford to get extra air to do things like exercise.  If a family goes over their designated air amount, they have to pay for it.  If you're not a Premium, you're either a steward, who works for the government, or an auxiliary, which is pretty sucky.  Auxiliaries are second class citizens and seemed to have very few rights.

Spoilers ahead
Alina is a member of the pod Resistance, which means she steals cuttings from the government owned trees to grow.  What is happening is that the government is actually not at all interested in regrowing trees or cleaning up the oceans, even though that's what they say they're doing.  They in fact are more than happy to remain in the pod where they have money, power and control.  They will even go so far as to destroy the trees the Resistance has managed to cultivate to keep it that way.

What was not clear, and what I hope future books will go into, is what was happening in the rest of the world.  Are all the Breathe communities like this one?  Are there some places in the world where there really is an effort to return to the outside world, or are they all corrupt?

I enjoyed the story well enough until the military is going to crush the Resistance outside the pod, and there's supposedly a plan put together that involves Bea and Quinn giving the ministry false information and stalling them for two weeks and the entire plan seemed to be...get some extra people and practice shooting.  And then pretty much fall apart when the attack comes.  Awesome plan.  Why did they think that would work?  Why did they go with the original plan of getting the hell out of there?  So I thought that made no sense.  It served the purpose of separating the resistance and Bea and Quinn so they can find each other in the next books, but there had to be a better way to do it.  A way that made sense.

I don't think I'll be reading any others in this series, but it's certainly a good dystopia series to get if that's what the children still call for.

Breathe came out today.

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