[Young Adult/Dystopian Review] BREATHE by Sarah Crossan

Posted on 09/12/2012 in Book Review / 11 Comments

[Young Adult/Dystopian Review] BREATHE by Sarah CrossanBreathe by Sarah Crossan
Published by Greenwillow on 10/2/2012
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Pages: 373
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

Inhale. Exhale.\r\nBreathe.\r\nBreathe.\r\nBreathe . . .\r\nThe world is dead.\r\nThe survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.


Alina\r\nhas 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.


Quinn\r\nshould 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.


Bea\r\nwants 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?

BREATHE left me breathless. Sarah Crossan has created a world so profound and scary, I hope to never see something like this happen. But even scarier…it could. They say that humanity is the largest and longest plague Earth has ever experienced, and there is no better illustration of that than Crossan’s new dystopian novel, BREATHE. In it, humanity has been nearly decimated of its own hand, by logging all the forests, causing oxygen levels to plummet. The lucky few chosen by lottery – or sheer importance to their field of study – won homes inside the glass-enclosed dome, where class systems have been put into place and families get taxed on the amount of air they use. Everything is run by the Ministry, and the Ministry watches everyone. I was blown away by BREATHE. It’s been awhile since I’ve enjoyed a dystopian novel as much as I enjoyed this one. Crossan’s use of oxygen as the controlling element is so unique, but even better, it’s frightening because with all the logging we do now, this isn’t an impossible scenario. Improbable, maybe. But impossible? No. I also enjoyed how relevant it all seemed. Because the government provides an essential commodity (in abundance), its citizens are absolutely indentured to them. I’ve always been a fan of the old adage “give a man a fish and he eats for one day; teach a man to fish and he eats for life.” The citizens in BREATHE ate for one day, at a time, because commodities were provided to them. And the lesson I took away from this was, the more one can take care of themselves, the less they have to depend on others for what they need. I never want to need from my government, but I especially never want to need air. The message overall felt particularly relevant to the political climate of today with the many social programs and the government’s desire to decide what is best for us. Crossan’s characters covered the gamut of what a dystopian should have: the rebels, the people who are complacent and/or believe that what’s going on is good for the people, and finally, those who work for the government, ruling with their iron fist. I liked all these characters equally, because each had something so important to contribute to the story. Bea, a level 3 sub, wants so badly to be a Premium, and is in love with a Premium. She believes in the cause of Breathe, the entity that created the dome and sustains their way of life. Except, she’s a reasonable girl, and what she thinks is the cause may not be afterall. Quinn, a Premium, is humble and honest. It’s refreshing to get a privileged character like Quinn who hasn’t let it go to his head. He’s oblivious to a lot of things around him, something I did find irritating at times, but I chalked that up to his being a teenage boy. They’re all kind of dense. ☺ Alina is the smartest of the bunch. She sees things for what they are, but at the same time, her experiences have jaded her. And she feels she may have lost herself. The three of them are such an unusual group, but I enjoyed their interaction with one another, as well as the other characters throughout the novel.  I am not going to go into the other characters, especially the villains, because I want you to read it and make up your own mind about them.  Are they truly evil, or are they surviving with what they’ve been given?  I’ll leave that to you to decide. BREATHE is a keeper and I urge every fan of the dystopian genre to read it. You will especially love it if you’re a fan of Under the Never Sky and – dare I say it – The Hunger Games.



“What would the directors and politicians do with themselves?” Alina says.  “Their way of life depends on you being unable to survive without them.”


Disclaimers: This book was provided by the publisher in exchange of an honest review. Blurb and photo source courtesy of Goodreads.  *If you decide to purchase this book through any of these links, we do receive a small monetary kick-back that helps fund this blog.


The following two tabs change content below.
Jennifer is both a book nerd and professional photographer. That means she lives in the fantasy world all the time, whether of her making, or someone else's. She collects books like the Duggar family collects kids, and began waiting for her Hogwarts letter at the tender age of 33.


Subscribe to our mailing list

Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to our email newsletter and be notified when we post something new.

* Required field

11 responses to “[Young Adult/Dystopian Review] BREATHE by Sarah Crossan

  1. Awesome review! I totally feel the same way the idea was just so different from everything in my opinion 🙂 Especially the fact that our future could most likely end up like Breathe since progress is something that’s slowly corrupting the planet…in my opinion. I’m glad you really liked this one Jennifer!! 🙂

  2. Jenn

    I want to read this one so badly! I love dystopians and this one just caught my interest the first time I saw it! I’m glad you enjoyed it so much! Thanks for the great review, it’s scary to think of the world ending up like that!

  3. Ahh I actually decided to pass on this one, but now I really want to read it! I love the concept of it because it so totally could happen, which is scary. I guess I’m a little bit weary of dystopians but I will still give this a try when I get the chance!!

  4. Oh goodness, Jenn, that last quote is CHILLING. It’s reminding me of an intelligent cross between the original Total Recall and In Time. And I LOVE that it’s grounded in the realm of possibility. Sounds brilliant, and your review? AMAZING!

    • Oh, Saz….it hit all the right tones with me. I was just….FLOORED throughout the whole novel. It all felt so RELEVANT, you know? Like this is what happens when the government provides everything. They have complete control. So scary! Such a great book.

      • YES. And I LOVE dystopians like that? When you’re so sold on the concept it scares you and sucks you in and whoa. PERFECT.

Leave a Reply