Breathe by Sarah Crossan
Series: Breathe #1
Published by Bloomsbury, Greenwillow
Genres: Science Fiction YA, Young Adult
Source: Received for review from publishers
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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? A dystopian thriller about courage and freedom, with a love story at its heart.
Ahead: BAD SCIENCE, characters who go off the rails and a good premise.
Thoughts: I really wanted to love Breathe. Really, I did. It had an extraordinary premise with an environmental message I fully approve of. I mean, how many YA books deal with deforestation and mass climate change?
The first half of Breathe was really rather good. Sarah Crossan bounced back and forth between three well-developed characters – all teens, but all radically different. There’s the cold resistance member who seems horrid, but is really just trying to stay alive. The scholarship girl who is brilliant but will never get anywhere because of her birth. And the rich-but-mostly-kindhearted boy who doesn’t stand up to the system, but doesn’t lie down in front of it either. Three kids who are pretty much on their own, and who all learn to fight the status quo in their own way.
As I said, pretty good stuff – and while I wasn’t over the moon about the characters, I could see myself starting to connect with them. But then, about half way through the book, things started going downhill. The chapters started getting shorter, yet covered twice as much action. Characters were introduced who were supposed to be leaders but were genuinely psychotic – but no one dealt with or acknowledged this. And badda-bang instalove! I was kinda shocked.
But it was about to get worse… bring in the bad science.
OK, I understand that most people are not scientists – but there were mistakes in this book that were the equivalent of writing, “the island of France” or “Earth’s second moon”. Things so blindly obvious, someone should have noticed them. I don’t necessarily think Sarah Crossan should have been responsible for spotting her scientific faux-pas, but someone. Anyone.
For those of you who are doubting me, here’s an example. Breathe describes a world where, as the oxygen levels decrease, people start dropping like flies. Suddenly, graveyards are full, mass burial sites aren’t enough, so… people start burning the bodies.
*head desk* You cannot burn people in a low oxygen environment!! Flames need oxygen!! Human bodies are not super combustible! It’s basic chemistry that we worked out in the stone age.
I told two people this specific example, and both of them spotted the mistake immediately. Why didn’t an editor? I can only pray that that line did get cut from the final version… but doubt it.
*Even More Spoilery*
Another thing that made no scientific sense whatsoever was the rebel’s miraculous ability to breathe in a low oxygen atmosphere. It’s true that people who live in high-altitude areas develop higher red blood cell counts and can cope in less oxygenated atmospheres… but not the 6% oxygen levels of Breathe. This becomes even more unbelievable when you find out that all the rebels had to do to breathe like this was practice and throw in a few meditation sessions.
What’s sad is that science in Breathe didn’t need to be bad science. If a one-line explanation had been tossed in saying that humanity had evolved genetically to require less oxygen, I could have bought this. It’s science fiction, for goodness sakes! That Breathe masquerades as a scientifically sound novel is rather… off-putting.
So, after all that, am I going to read the sequel Resist? Maybe. I know that Sarah Crossan is capable of writing a good book – there’s half of one right here in Breathe.
Hello fellow book lovers! It’s been months, but I am back with a big book haul a-la Stacking the Shelves (Tynga’s Reviews) / In My Mailbox (The Story Siren) / Mailbox Monday.
These aren’t all the books I’ve acquired since my last post, but it’s a fair bunch of them. I also picked up a bunch at Eastercon, where I met a tonne of authors and covered for a radio station with another presenter. The segment was broadcast months ago, but is not online yet. Once it is, I will do a mini (belated) wrap-up!
Moving on… For Review I received:
- The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George – This cover is really, really lovely. Hope what’s inside is as good as what’s on the outside!
- Darkness Falls by Cate Tiernan – I’m reading this right now and – after a few horrible pages – am quite enjoying it! Reviewed the first in this series here.
- Breathe by Sarah Crossan – I actually requested this one; it just sounds super awesome. Sarah’s blog tour is coming round soon, so you should see her one the interwebs soon.
- Zombies Don’t Cry by Rusty Fischer – This sounds absolutely hysterical and is on my very-soon-to-read pile!
- Kiss the Dead by Laurell K. Hamilton – This is book… 21 (?!) of the Anita Blake series. Seeing as how I am on book four of this series, I think it will be a while before I get to it. Though I have to say, the new UK covers are gorgeous.
- Wicked Business by Janet Evanovich – I’ve never read a book by Janet, but I know she’s super popular. This is the second book in a series – anyone know if I can get away without reading the first?
- The Chemickal Marriage by Gordon Dahlquist – This cover is GORGEOUS and the book sounds fab – but, again, it’s the third in a series. Do I need to go out and buy the first two?
- The Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith – This is supposed to be candy-covered brilliance. Not sure why I haven’t read it yet…
- 1.4 by Mike A. Lancaster – Again, this is the second book in a series that I haven’t started. I have 0.4 on my kindle, though. May splash out on the paperback if I like it, as the cover is so freakin’ creepy!
- The Watcher by Charles Maclean – This is a re-print of a horror novel that came out in the 80s. I was surprisingly intrigued by the premise, despite it not being my genre.
- Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt – This sounds rather painfully good. I think I’ll have to get myself in a zone before I start it.
- Mister Creecher by Chris Priestley – This sounds rather fun, and I’ve heard great things about the author.
- Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – Usually I am not a fan of historical novels, but this one sounds really, really good! And it has had fantastic reviews.
- The Last Four Things by Paul Hoffman – This is the second in a series, but I think I can get away without reading the first. I hope so, anyhow, as this one sounds super-super cool! Like a Season 4 Supernatural episode…
- Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee – Reading the summary for this one, I’m not sure quite what it is going for. It’s a dystopian, post-apocalyptic… horror novel? I think so, anyhow.
- The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore – This series isn’t up my alley, so I passed it on to an actual teenager (surprise, surprise!).
- Dissing You Already by Kate Kingsley – Again, not really my kind of book! Passed this one on as well.
- Shadow of Night and A Discovery of Witches (not pictured) by Deborah Harkness – This is one of those series that has had some fantastic crossover appeal. I am eager to see why so many people liked it!
- Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer – I have never been attracted to Jodi’s books, but this one sounds brilliant. Contemporary fiction mixed with a fairy tale = just my cup of tea.
- A Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder – I have had mixed feelings about Maria’s books; I really hope this book lives up to the quality of Poison Study and not the “meh”-ness of Fire Study.
- Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne – This one sounds super creepy!
- The Out of Office Girl by Nicola Doherty – Since I knew this wasn’t going to be my kind of book, I passed it on to a friend… who really, really enjoyed it. Apparently, if you are looking for a new chick-lit-type author, check out Nicola.
- Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler – This is written by he-who-is-also-known-as Lemony Snicket! I read some rather polarized reviews for it, so I am curious to find out what I think of it…
I was going to include a bunch of books that I bought as well, but after that I am rather exhausted! You’ll see them next week.
Any suggestions, people? I’ve got Zombies Don’t Cry and Breathe up next on my TBR pile, but I’d love some input!