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Profile Image for Katy.
611 reviews332 followers
September 21, 2012
I'm normally a HUGE fan of just about any dystopian, and I was really looking forward to this one, but it ended up really disappointing me because 1) the plot did not stand out, 2) I could not stand the characters and 3) too many inconsistencies.

First of all, this book followed your typical dystopian plot - oppressive government, rebels who know the truth, duped citizens who finds out the truth and decide to do something about it, all hell breaks loose, etc. And I can't put my finger on it, but I feel like I've read this concept before, living in a bubble and having masks to breathe. Mitch mentioned "Masque of the Red Death," but I also think a little bit of "Under the Never Sky" and maybe something else too.

So for me, the big question was, did I like the characters? And the answer was no.

Alina is USUALLY my type of girl - feisty, determined and kickass. BUT even though I KNEW she was that type of character, she didn't really show me so. Her feelings for Abel were really surface deep, and I know that she suffers from the lost of her parents, but I didn't really see that from her. She's rude to people, and later, even though she begins to start feeling for them, she's still kind of stony. So she didn't make an impression for me.

I didn't care for Bea because she was the whiny side girl. I totally understand the disheartening feeling that comes from unrequited love, but she was such a pushover. And I know Crossan TRIED to do something with her character because Alina and Maude and others started to like and respect her, but I think her character did fall short despite Crossan's attempt.

And your hero - Quinn. I'm sorry, but I could not stand him. First of all, he's stupid for not being able to see what what was standing right in front of him. But to rub it in her face (although unknowingly) just made me mad. But okay, he's a guy, right? They're clueless, right? I could forgive him, BUT he goes after Alina like some lovesick puppy. It would be one thing if he went after her, but the way that he was more of the "get away from me, why can't you see I'm not interested" type of nuisance.

I had also expected more character development from others like Silas and Petra. Nope.

And there were too many inconsistencies - little things that left me thinking, "HUH?!?" Like with Abel. And then there was the Pod Minister.

And then there were silly little things like: "The shoes are actually stripy sandals and the heels must be eight inches high. I have no idea how she's managing to keep her balance. She looks like she's about to go clubbing somewhere very hot and seedy." WTH? They have clubs in Breathe?!? I thought people were having a hard time breathing in general let alone go out partying. And if they did, yeah it'll be very sexy for people to go clubbing in masks. So let's say the clubs were in Zone 1 in a building where they CAN breathe, well, clubbing is not a situation I would really imagine in a world like Breathe in the first place.

Okay, enough of that. The story was good enough, and I think I may have liked it before I became pickier. But my lack of enthusiasm for the characters and the inconsistencies in the book just left me disappointed.
Profile Image for Reynje.
272 reviews962 followers
October 30, 2012
I’ll be blunt, shall I? I’ve read cereal boxes that were more exciting than this book.

I might have been able to chalk this up to just another case of Insta!Dystopia and moved on, but my disappointment is compounded by the fact that I’ve read Crossan’s The Weight of Water, and it’s really good. So I expected more from Breathe. And it did not deliver.

Something called The Shift has caused oxygen levels to plunge and as there are no trees, the drastically reduced population live inside a Pod city. Society is divided into a caste system, with Premiums at the top being able to afford extra oxygen to do things like exercise, dance and have sex whenever they want to. The Auxiliaries, on the other hand, are basically underlings who have their lifestyle strictly curtailed by their inability to purchase extra oxygen. Quinn is a Premium with a powerful father. Bea is his Auxiliary best friend who spends a lot of time gazing at him longingly. Alina is a member of a rebel group, creatively named The Resistance, who do incredibly subversive things like stealing cuttings and growing plants, because it turns out this worldwide oxygen famine is pretty much a BIG. CONSPIRACY.

I found the worldbuilding unconvincing. Crossan gives a very bare bones explanation for the state of the world in Breathe and it made no sense to me. I don’t think it’s a bad premise, but I do think the flimsy way it’s presented undermines reader investment in the concept. When the book’s response to any probing questions is basically: “Because THE SWITCH”, I stop being interested. Breathe raises more questions than it answers, and while it’s arguable that the premise will be expanded upon as the series progresses, I really think it was necessary in the first book. I won’t believe an earth-altering cataclysmic event unless you give me a reason to. Otherwise, it seems like lazy writing. If you’re going to take shortcuts on the worldbuilding, expect that I will poke holes in it.

The story is narrated in first person by Alina, Quinn and Bea, who unfortunately sound identical. Perhaps third person perspective might have been more successful, because first person was simply bland and confusing. Despite the differences in their circumstances, and ostensibly their personalities, there wasn’t much here to differentiate between them and make their individual motivations clear. While Quinn’s perspective includes some helpful cues like how he enjoys staring at Alina’s arse, the voices of the main characters feel interchangeable.

In contrast, the secondary characters seem almost caricature-like. The Pod Minister, whom I assume is the main antagonist, is cartoonishly exaggerated and rendered ridiculous by clunky dialogue and a contrived whiskey-drinking habit that is just bizarre. Other characters, including Quinn’s mother and Alina’s helpful neighbour, appear to exist solely as plot devices, cropping up when the story needs a helping hand.

With such patchy characterisation, it’s difficult to care about their predicament, or the relationships between the characters. Quinn, Bea and Alina brave the outside world in search of the resistance, with dwindling oxygen supplies, the threat of capture and a generous helping of unrequited love serving to for dramatic tension. But honestly? I felt apathetic about all of it. There was something so wooden and flat about this entire book, that even the action scenes felt stilted at best and comical at worst. (When someone shouted “Fight with gusto!” I actually laughed. Apparently, I’d make a poor rebel.)

Despite what might have been an interesting premise, Breathe lacked depth. The complex environmental issues are not explored in any meaningful way, and the climax and resolution felt too convenient. Even the final battle scenes are sort of skimmed over, brushed aside for a neatly wrapped ending and obligatory segue to the sequel.

I know I’ve come down hard on this book, but I expected more from it than it ultimately was. After enjoying Crossan’s verse novel, I had anticipated good things from Breathe as a character-driven, intelligent dystopia. Unfortunately, I don’t think it was either of those.

Dystopian thriller? No. Dystopian snoozefest.

November 24, 2017
Review and more at

I’ve got to admit I admired the ideas behind this book and looking at our modern-day world, I can definitely see where the author is coming from with her ideas. But despite all the action, reveals and all I still found this story rather flat.

Firstly the plot and conspiracy regarding the trees was surprising when I first started reading, but towards the end it became obvious where the author was taking things. I think whether or not you agree with what I said or not depends really on how many YA dystopian novels you’ve read. I’ve read a lot, and nowadays it takes either a really original idea or a very skillful author to surprise me with a book. I also found the whole plot and style of writing quite weird and sometimes far-fetched.. but I guess this is a fiction book after all though I did hope it would meld with the real world more…

The world building I found was typical for this plot and it was exactly what I expected. But hey, at least the author actually bothered to put it in unlike many other YA authors today…

Regarding the characters, I had a sort of love-hate relationship with them as at some times they were completely boring and bland and at other times they were mature and real. I could definitely see the author had tried her best with them. With the pacing, there were once again times where the pacing ran very fast and other times the pacing ran really slow and boring. The action scenes were well made if not a bit far fetched sometimes.

I must admit another thing I liked was the ending and how it really sets up an exciting beginning for the next book. It was somewhat a cliffhanger and while I will read the next book, I’m not really in a hurry to due to my overall enjoyment of this book.
Profile Image for Sarah.
Author 21 books1,804 followers
April 26, 2012
I read this one, and it isn't half bad ;)
Profile Image for Jo.
268 reviews945 followers
May 12, 2020
After I finished this book, I started thinking about how sometimes writers, who are known for a particular genre, suddenly decide to write something different and how odd it is. I guess there are obvious genres a writer can go into. Fantasy authors are comfortable writing sci-fi. Horror authors can write paranormal books.
But verse novels to dystopia? I was sceptical, to say the least.

This book was… alright. I’ve read a lot of dystopian books and I’m beginning to feel a bit disillusioned. I think dystopians and me… well, we need to break up for a bit. I need to take a step back...look after myself, see other genres, eat chocolate... the usual.
While the story of Breathe was ok and relatively different to other dystopians out there, I can’t really say that it brought anything new to the genre.
In the YA house party, the dystopians are the cool kids that stand around in the kitchen, making people feel uncomfortable and inadequate when they go in for some more vodka. They’re loud and everyone knows who they are even if they're not in that group and they’re exciting and everyone wants to be in their gang. But then, if you get to know them a bit you realise that they’re… all.. well… kind of the same. They do the same things. They say the same things. And they can’t take their alcohol. And they inadvertently grope you when you try and grab a handful of party rings.
I guess I’m just getting a bit tired of them. Maybe it’s because I don’t have as much time to read as I used to, but I’m starting to actively seek books that are different and challenge me as a reader. I want books that tell a different story, have different kinds of characters. Maybe I’m just a renegade YA reader but I want to be genuinely shocked at plot twists; I don��t just want a story that relies on a love interest who’s strong and serious (and a bit dull), a feisty heroine and a grouchy government.
I think I just want to hang out in the garden, taking hilarious pictures and sharing a bottle of wine and talking about life with the contemporaries.

But, this wasn’t a complete write-off for me. Ms Crossan can write, it’s obvious that she can. She has a story and she tells it. Whether or not I believed in the story is beside the point. I read this book in a day, while the Olympics were on. Whether I want to admit it or not, this book had my attention.

Alina was… was, well she’s OK. Of course she was a badass and of course she was feisty and of course she was beautiful and of course everyone loved her. I’m just getting a bit bored of these girls who want to start revolutions but then end up getting everyone into a pickle because they’re a bit dim and there’s a hot boy involved. I think we started off on the wrong foot and, unfortunately, we never recovered. I didn’t really feel like she added much to the story and I can’t decide why. I have theories about the next book and I’m guessing that we’ll get to hear more about her in the next book.

Luckily, we have Bea. Oh Bea, how I adored you. Yeah, you get a bit giddy over The Boy, and we’ll talk about him later, but on the whole you were a wonderful character. Smart, caring and really adorable.

Right, Quinn, we’ll deal with you shall we? As far as YA boys go, you’re alright. There were things I didn’t like which I’m going to talk about… now.

(Except within the spoiler I mention Quinn's eye colour.... which isn't a spoiler... but this next bit will make no sense. Like this sentence...)

Also, clay coloured eyes. I know when it dries clay kind of goes grey but clay to me, is… well, it’s orange. So Quinn has orange eyes? Am I just thinking about his eyes too much? Possibly, but I have been brought up to know the importance of the colour of a Young Adult boy's eyes.

Yes, I kind of wished that the love story had been developed for a bit longer because, like I always seem to chat on about, I like slow-burning love stories. We have two more books to go and unless you throw in a sexy Drifter to mix it up a bit because I can't say I'm entirely excited for the kissy sappiness for two more books.
But hey, that’s just me.

I guess I was also a bit confused about the world in Breathe. I know it’s a bit unfair to say this because I know that this is the first book in a trilogy and I’m guessing the questions I have will be answered eventually but I found it really hard to picture this pod that they all lived in. I wanted to know more about The Switch and I found the explanation of why it all came about a bit unsatisfactory. I got it, I think, but I still don’t understand how no one was like “Hey, maybe we should like…. Save a few trees. Just a little bit. Maybe just a sapling...?"

I think that Sarah Crossan is a better writer than this book. Actually, I know she is because The Weight of Water was stunning and incredibly original. To me, anyway, this book fell a bit flat. It was exciting enough and it was well written, but it hasn’t left a lasting impression on me and will probably lose itself in the masses of dystopian books published every year.

Now, a dystopian book written in verse? That would have had my attention…

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

Profile Image for Rose.
1,879 reviews1,065 followers
August 16, 2012
It really pains me to say that I found Sarah Crossan's "Breathe" a significant disappointment in the line of YA dystopia fiction despite an interesting offering on a scientific concept - what if oxygen were in rare supply in the overarching world? What would happen to the people who couldn't afford to have it, since trees are said to have become extinct and only the wealthy, who control the production of the oxygen, can afford to "buy" their sustenance? It sounds like an interesting concept right?

To be blunt, the oxygen notation of the book is just a side aspect of this dystopic universe - it's never fully vetted out, though noted with some half-hearted assertions about why the world is the way it is that comes across as offending and scientifically bogus. "Breathe" chooses to center on the lives of three teens - two girls and one boy - Alina, Bea, and Quinn respectively in viewpoint. Alina is a rogue young woman part of a rebel group fighting against the oppressive rule of the Breathe society - which controls the amount of oxygen. She undertakes a mission that she knows might get her caught, and ends up recruiting the help of two other teens to make it back into the land outside of the controlled society.

Bea is a young woman who comes from a poor background and seeks to move herself up on her own terms in the Breathe society. She's known Quinn, a boy who is part of the elite class of Premiums, for a long time and has admired him from afar for some time. Unfortunately, he doesn't really notice her. Quinn can afford all the oxygen he needs, among other things, because of his family's rank, so he comes across as a bit of a wealthy, spoiled brat in terms. When Bea and Quinn are asked by Alina to accompany her past the Pod, they have a two day supply of air to undertake a journey that they have no idea what will eventually happen.

To say that I was underwhelmed and disappointed by this book, in retrospect, is an understatement. The characters are incredibly flat and difficult to care about, lacking a due amount of intimacy in the very beginning despite some rather stark turns in the plot. To start, the only reason Bea and Quinn are following Alina is because Quinn takes a liking to Alina and Bea goes along hoping that when they're done she can have Quinn to herself. *winces* Not a good way to start a story.

It's a weird measure to approach a love triangle this way (which isn't really a love triangle, you kind of understand who ends up with who after a certain point). Even so, the journey is not quite as easy as they would anticipate. Considering bombs, surviving in the wild, and having a little old lady (Maude) steal your air tank at knifepoint don't really figure into the picture for these three teens. Nonetheless, they're in for the ride of their lives, toggling between an oncoming war and an uprising against the oppression of the Breathe majority.

I think much of this book progressed with such ridiculous back and forth assertions that it was difficult to take seriously and feel connected to. The characters aren't really treated with many degrees of emotional intimacy, and the reaction to significant events (i.e. deaths) is quite underscored through most of the book compared to the level of conflict. There's so much focus on the romance and less on the harrowing situations that the characters supposedly face, and it feels mostly shoved in the reader's perception. There were certain static passages between the switching narratives that I felt didn't match up with the situation. For instance, during a trek where Quinn is hurt and separated from the girls, the girls don't really do much to worry about Quinn except to speculate on his death and Quinn isn't so much trying to get out of his hurt/near death situation except to speculate on how he ignored Bea for quite some time. I think the character priorities aren't realistic for the world that is established here, and it shows.

Ultimately, as the story moves forward there are some striking clashes between the Breathe society and their attempt to keep control. Quinn's father is a large part of this process, and he's a crude character who doesn't care whom he hurts to get what he wants. The story culminates in battles and clashes that end with losses, but the ending of the novel is so abrupt and leaves so many loose ends that while I could see where it's left for a sequel - it's not very inviting, especially given the lack of intrigue with the primary cast save for a few significant events. Those events weren't enough to save the novel for me.

I also found that I cared more for a few side characters than I did the main ones. One of those characters actually ends up getting killed and I hated the way that it was depicted, because it didn't show enough emotional resonance for the cruelty that was displayed.

In sum, "Breathe" was much like a sucker punch to the gut - in the wrong sense of resonance. I wish it could've been a better experience to match the intrigue of its overarching premise. Bad science, insta-love, flat characterizations, and ludicrous focus on certain aspects of the story really killed the experience for me.

Overall score: 1/5

Note: I received this as an ARC from Edelweiss, from the publisher HarperCollins/Greenwillow.
Profile Image for Jasprit.
527 reviews770 followers
October 11, 2012
3.5 stars

Gritty dystopians have really been hitting the spot as of late. Breathe I’m happy to say is a book which managed to tick a lot of my boxes in providing a masterfully woven novel which kept me on the edge of my seat when several books have failed. There are only a distinct number of dystopians which I would categorise as utterly mind-blowing and I’m pleased to say Breathe is one of those books.

With the number of dystopians coming through these days, I’ve become increasingly picky over what I choose to read. Unfortunately the majority of the ones I’ve decided to pick up have failed to live up to expectations. But when I first came across Breathe, for once I didn’t have any feelings of dread in deciding to pick it up. The premise of a society dependant on the rules and regulations they’re governed by that they don’t have their own say is quite over done in books, but despite Breathe focusing on a similar theme touched on by many others, it also had a uniqueness about it which shone through.

Quinn and Bea are brought up in a society where oxygen is a privilege. If you’re a premium like Quinn then you have more access to oxygen tanks and thus generally you get to live the better life. Whereas Bea is an auxiliary, her parents are barely scraping by, the fact that Quinn is her friend makes her life a lot easier, but Bea doesn’t want to be dependent on Quinn for everything, she knows her best shot is to win a place in the pod through the Breathe leadership program.

I know that I would utterly fail at having my oxygen intake monitored by the ministry, so it was tough reading about the two distinct groups; premiums and auxiliaries; how different their lives could be, how everything about society was thoroughly drilled into them, that they weren’t aware of what was within their grasp until they met Alina a member of the resistance. I admit I didn’t like Alina at first, I thought she was sort of butting in Bea and Quinn’s friendship. But the multiple povs in this book allowed me to get a proper understanding of her character, and as the book progressed, the character changes that emerged in her I admired.

Bea was my favourite character; there was so much heartache she had to go through that I really felt for her at times. But through the tough situations she faced, she demonstrated she could be a fierce fire cracker when necessary. I’m still a little conflicted over how I felt about the romance in this book, I’m happy about the direction it went in, but felt it happened all of a sudden, as we were always led to believe it was one sided.

The secondary characters certainly livened up this book; so many times I was quick to make judgements about them, but was surprised by how wrong I could be. Jazz and Maude quickly became favourites.

Overall Breathe is a fresh book that I’m sure many will devour, the insightful multiple povs, fast pace and action packed scenes will sure to keep readers captivated. Book two which is scheduled for release in October 2013, I’m sure will be one of my highly anticipated reads of the year.

This review and more can be found on The Readers Den
Profile Image for Neil (or bleed).
982 reviews749 followers
September 3, 2015
"I’m nervous, but I’m not scared."

I think Breathe is timely and relevant.
I think it is an eye opener to what will happen when trees and plants will vanish in this cruel world or when people, us, abused our natural resources; and when there is no unity but greed among us.
And I think this book is a carrier of hope and faith, too.

Breathe gave me a typical dystopian world of a ruling government controlling the people through a promised hope. And of course, there is the resistance, advanced technology and wastelands to complete the package. The thing was it deals about the basic necessity of life which is the air, specifically oxygen, that made the story more complicated and conflicted.

Nonetheless, I like Breathe, mainly because of the message the story conveyed but I like the story itself too, of course. Hehe. Even some events happened fast or it felt something like that, the story's progression isn't confusing and I wasn't lost when I'm reading it.

The world isn't shaky, I pictured it well in my mind but I have a problem with The Shift. The idea of the Shift, for me, isn't well-explained or probably I'm just looking for more. I'm not that attached to the characters but they were okay at least. Actually, nobody stood out for me which was probably okay and not at the same time. There was romance, as usual, which started as just infatuation and sort of love-triangle but became good at almost at the end of the book when the guy main character realized who really cared for him.

Breathe is a good read. It's just that it didn't impressed me big time. It surely thrilled me. Just imagining a life without air or oxygen, it is scary already. So basically, this book did interest me, and that's saying a lot.

Profile Image for AH.
2,005 reviews373 followers
September 12, 2013
Imagine a world where oxygen is lacking. Instead of the usual amount of oxygen in the atmosphere, the levels of oxygen plummet, resulting in the need for breathing masks and cumbersome oxygen tanks. This is the world of Breathe, a novel by Sarah Crossan.

Sometime in the not so distant future, an event called The Switch caused oxygen levels to decrease. Mankind found a short term solution care of a company called Breathe. People moved to large glass pods and breathed air manufactured by Breathe.

Breathe is narrated by three alternating points of view. Each narrator is a teen living in this world and each brings a different perspective to the story. Quinn is a teenage boy lucky enough to belong to a Premium family. The Premiums have a lot of advantages and opportunities in this world. Only Premiums can afford the costly air for daily life activities such as work, exercise, and even sex. Bea is an Auxiliary. Auxiliaries do not have the same opportunities as Premiums: their homes are not as nice, they work more hours, and they do not have the same educational opportunities. Bea is very intelligent but her background ensures that she will not progress unless she manages to marry into the Premiums. The third narrator Alina is a member of the Resistance. Alina is fierce and strong and fully committed to her cause.

The three narrators’ lives collide at a chance meeting at the border. Quinn and Bea are going on a weekend camping trip and Alina is escaping for her life. Quinn inadvertently smuggles Alina out of the pod and he and Bea accompany her in her search for the Resistance base. As they journey through the ruins, Quinn and Bea realize that their life in the pod is a lie.

I loved the main characters. Quinn had everything going for him, a good life, a great future, and the adoration of Bea. Bea was smart and hopeful. She was kind-hearted and her crush on Quinn was so cute. Alina was idealistic, carrying her seedlings over great distances.

The world of Breathe was fascinating. While I had difficulty in believing a scenario where the Earth’s oxygen levels would be so depleted (personally, I could believe polluted more than depleted), the author sets up the world nicely. I found the author’s explanation for The Switch intriguing. Adding in a conspiracy element based on the production of oxygen was a nice touch.

For me, the best part of this book was that there was a possibility of hope, a possibility that the environment could be repaired. I can’t wait for the next book in the series, Resist. Breathe is recommended for young adult audiences ages 12 and up.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Harper Collins for a review copy of this book.

Review posted on Badass Book Reviews.
Profile Image for Maddie.
557 reviews1,150 followers
January 26, 2016
'Breathe' has quickly become my favourite dystopian EVER. It follows all the conventions of a good dystopian, but the characters don't make stupid decision, the dynamic between the three main characters is really interesting, and the secondary characters were all so, well, cool!
I couldn't pick a favourite perspective out of Bea, Alina and Quinn and that's usually a very good sign! I would recommend to anyone that loves 'Under the Never Sky'.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
332 reviews150 followers
October 10, 2012
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.
Profile Image for Nicole.
637 reviews263 followers
October 28, 2012
Breathe is an incredibly ironic title. Throughout this entire book, I couldn’t breathe! It was incredibly depressing and touching, reading Breathe! I’m starting to feel like all the dystopians this year are going to have the same effect on me: stunned, on the edge of tears, and knowing it’s an amazing book. 2012 really does have some of the best books ever. And especially Breathe. I had no idea what to expect! I knew Breathe would be original. I mean, an air shortage? Having to buy oxygen? It just caught my interest immediately. And…it may have something to do with the stunning cover.

Like I said! This was definitely one original plot and world. It was full of twists that made me cringe or stare and after a while, I just quit trying to guess what was going on. It was just too hard! With tyrannical leaders, a shortage of air supply, the spark of a rebellion, and the start of a civil war, there’s no wonder you never get bored! It was fast paced, but I honestly wanted to punch someone. So. Many people. DIED. Agh. But I have to admit (grudgingly) that not everyone can do that. So props!

Heads up, there wasn’t a love triangle at all! Thank goodness! The romance was slow, sweat, and steady! It was so…lovey-dovey and thankfully not insta-romance! (Finally, authors are seeing how much we hate it!). Sarah Crossan basically crossed out all the romance-type stuff we hate like love triangles and insta-love and turned it into one that we’d enjoy!

Bea was definitely my favorite character out of all three. She was empathetic and she was incredibly loyal. She saw the best in people and instead of making her weak, that trait made her seem stronger and more defiant than Alina could be. Bea was one of those quiet, shy good girls who always accepts and follows the rules until she meets Alina, who she warms up to even if the guy she loved liked her. Like I said, Bea could see the best in people. Bea is one of the smartest characters ever and she was brave enough to take a stand against the people she’s feared and listened to her entire life.
At first, I really didn’t like Alina, but she did grow on me. She just seemed insanely cruel and cold to Bea and Quinn, but after a few chapters from her POV, I realized that she wasn’t as cold as she seemed to be from someone else’s view. She lost the guy she loved because she liked him and wanted to be with him and that tends to turn someone cold. She had all these complexities in her life being a Rebel member and I realized that Alina didn’t want to be the bitch excuse the language!) of the story either. She just couldn’t let anyone else in.
I definitely thought Quinn was the bravest character. He’s grown up in a luxurious life with as much air as possible and has trusted the government his entire life. But the things he discovers with Alina and Bea contradict all that and new sides of everything he’s known are revealed. And he’s still enough to face them with lies, not flinching. Now that takes guts. He was caring, but he did annoy me when he agreed with Alina because she was a pretty face even when he really disagreed with her. And that fact that (ROMANCE SPOILER) it took him almost dying to realize Bea was the right one for him did annoy me as well. Just a tad.

Profile Image for Max.
175 reviews15 followers
September 6, 2012
This review is for an advanced reader's copy.

I will start by saying that I picked up this book as I was about to go to sleep thinking I would read the first couple of chapters to see how I liked it. I ended up reading all of part one and then forcing myself to go to sleep because I had already stayed up way later than I should have.

Breathe is definitely readable and Crossan has done a great job creating an endearing setting as well as three main characters that you can't help but invest yourself in. Bea is smart and well-spoken but she's also pretty strong and, I'd say, the bravest of the main three. Alina is fierce and the bitch, but she also has a softer side that slowly unravels itself as the story progresses. Quinn is smart and witty, but he's still growing into himself and understanding the facade of his privileged life. All have qualities that one can relate to and endured struggles I found myself empathizing with. Crossan also did a great job with most of the minor characters. Overall, I do think she could have developed the characters a little more in-depth, as their changes and decisions did not always seem entirely sincere because there wasn't as much deliberation or reflection as there could have been.

The story line itself I did not have a problem with. I thought the concept of the novel was intriguing and something different than what most dystopian fiction has tackled. While there is the dictator style of government that is suppressing the lower classes and keeping the community misinformed, I think Crossan added an aspect that changes it even for them. Without the oxygen tanks, no one would be able to survive. She's added an enemy that is greater than even the government. I do think the action seemed a little rushed at times, and Crossan needs to work on her descriptions. I don't really have a concrete idea of what many of the characters look like, and there were times where I couldn't picture what was going on because there was just a little bit of information that seemed to be lacking. A lot of the events seemed predictable as well, although that did not stop my enjoyment of the novel or lead me to put down the book. I think if Crossan added a little more to the side stories rather than having every scene center around the major plot, she could develop the characters more and also make it seem less jumpy and predictable.

Overall, I would say this is a really promising debut novel that will keep you flipping the page, and I'm excited to read the second installation in the series.
Profile Image for Giselle.
1,057 reviews907 followers
April 12, 2016
A finished unsolicited copy was provided by the publisher for review.

Global warming has devastated the entire planet, and oxygen levels are at an all time low. The survivors have found a way to live in domed cities which are erected around the planet by the corporation Breathe. They control the oxygen consumption of everyone in the city. Lower class citizens must pay for their oxygen, while wealthier classes have an unlimited supply. Quinn, the handsome, wealthy Premium whose father works for the Breathe corporation. Bea, who is an auxiliary, and also Quinn's best friend happens to be in love with him (Can we say love triangle?). Alina, the headstrong gorgeous girl who happens to be part of the Resistance. Can they all work together to save the dome and everyone who lives in it from further destruction?

Breathe is broken up into multiple viewpoints of the three characters Bea, Quinn and Alina. I always liked how authors do this just because you can see what the other character is thinking about the author. I especially enjoy reading about the viewpoint of the boy. Sometimes their viewpoints make me laugh. In this case, Quinn's viewpoint made me roar with laughter. Some of his thoughts are quite hilarious. I didn't care very much about Alina though. She was a tad snobby, and only cared about herself. Bea on the other hand is the sweetheart, and had a lot of sympathy for Maude.

There wasn't a whole lot of character development through out the novel, so if you're looking for fully developed characters in this novel, then it isn't for you. Although, if you want a fast paced and exciting read, then Breathe is definitely what you're looking for. I don't think I will ever tire of dystopian themed novels, and Breathe was no exception. Survival, freedom, chaos, and rebellion all rolled into one. I loved the plot! The story kept me turning the pages, and I read this one in one sitting. I'm glad the romance wasn't the focus (thank God!). I can't wait to see what else Sarah Crossan has in store for us.
Profile Image for James Tullos.
318 reviews1,419 followers
June 25, 2023
It's nice to find a book that's bad because it's silly and stupid. I've read too many that are bad because they're disgusting or frustrating.
Profile Image for Jon.
599 reviews627 followers
October 29, 2012
Find this review at Scott Reads It

**Thank you to Greenwillow Books for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review**

Breathe had a lot of promise in my opinion but it really disappointed me. Imagine a world where people live inside a dome and outside is pretty much ruins (Under The Never Sky) then imagine that inside the dome people need oxygen masks to survive (Masque of the Red Death). Breathe takes in place in a dome ruled by a government called Breathe.

This book is told from the POV of three different characters (1 male, and 2 females). The POV was a bit of a problem for me because Alina and Bea sounded pretty similar and I had to flip back to see who was talking. I like books where the characters have distinct voices but this wasn't the case with Breathe.

All the characters in Breathe weren't too likeable in my opinion. Be warned there is a cliche and typical love triangle! Quinn is in love with Alina even though he doesn't really know her. Alina doesn't really love anybody and Bea is obsessed with Quinn. Why is Quinn too blind to see that Bea has liked him since they were little? I'll tell you why! It's a stereotypical generic love triangle that we have seen so often in media. The male best friend always falls in love with someone new and foreign to him. He never opens his eyes and sees that his best friend loves him more than a friend.

I am not a big fan of Breathe but it was a decent read. It had action and adventure along with romance. It was in my opinion, a typical dystopia even though the plot sounded original. Breathe in my opinion was pretty cliche and was very predictable!! I don't recommend this book at all but I'm clearly the minority here. I definitely won't be reading the sequel to Breathe. If you're in the mood for a great dystopian read Under The Never Sky instead!!!
Profile Image for Kat.
477 reviews167 followers
January 2, 2015
If I saw Breathe displayed in a bookshop, I'd pick it up. If I read the synopsis, I'd trot right over the cashier, hand over my hard-earned cash, go home and start reading straight away. It looks good, it sounds good, so it MUST be good.

However, I struggled to enjoy Breathe. I'm not adverse to multiple POV stories, however the flashes between Alina, Quinn and Bea were so fast that I struggled to keep up with exactly who was narrating and when, although it was also essential to the story to show all their experiences. Yep I realise I'm being completely contradictory.

The characters are probably the part I struggled with the most, overall. Alina isn't a likeable character - and when she does a pretty radical 180 and suddenly cares deeply about everyone I couldn't work out why, or when, this miraculous change of heart actually happened.

Quinn is a sterotypical stupid rich boy who is best friends with a smart, caring girl but doesn't realise it, and instead crushes on a girl that doesn't seem to have any redeamable features.

Bea was pretty much the only main character that I actually liked because although her family was not as rich or influential as Quinn's, she's clever and kind.

Breathe is a believable world as a possible scenario of what could happen if we continue to treat the planet like a big dumping ground, and the idea of a world with no trees, no flowers and living on synthetic foodstuffs is pretty disturbing. The science is well explained, and the world of the dome, and the outlands is very well built, with far more showing than telling.

And although all the ingredients for a tension-filled, action-packed book are there, I had trouble buying into the whole menacing vibe - it felt more like the trio were a bunch of naughty schoolkids that would be grounded, not that their lives were in danger.

Overall for me, Breathe is a book that had so much potential and some good features, but the lack of care I had for the characters, the fact that I could have lazily read the whole 400 pages in 4 hours and the confusingly fast POV switches just left me underwhelmed.

Read more of my reviews at The Aussie Zombie
Profile Image for Phoenix Olivia .
106 reviews
September 2, 2019
The concept of this was good. The world doesn't have anymore trees, therefore they don't have oxygen. Everywhere around them looks dead, like there isn't any life to it. To live they have these air tanks that they carry around with them but they are limited to activity. The poor people can barely make it and they don't really have a lot of food for their family. They don't have much money to spend on their oxygen. That's how they have everything sent up. The premiums, which are kind of like the rich, they can afford to get more oxygen and better food. They are treated better. The place that is in charge is called Breathe, but are they really telling the truth about everything? Are all the trees really completely gone? What about the plants? Anyways, that is what you find out in reading this book. It had me hooked in the beginning. It's about 3.5 stars to me in my opinion.
Profile Image for Lisbeth Avery {Domus Libri}.
196 reviews154 followers
July 20, 2012
I didn’t finish this book.
I didn’t get past 80%.
I will review it though.

If you don’t want to read a DNF review. Click the back button. Close the browser. I don’t care. If you do want to read this, continue down the review.


I didn’t like Breathe. When you read DNF, you probably assumed I hated it. I did not hate it. I simply got bored with it. I didn’t care about what happened to the characters or the fictional world. Truthfully, I lost track of the story at 55 – 60% in. I really hate when that happens. When it gets to the point when you have no idea what happened, why continue?

The book switches between three POVS: Bea’s, Quinn’s, and Alina’s.

Bea is in love with Quinn. Like swoon, fall over in love. She was annoying and pretty bland. She was the average heroine of the story. Quinn is in lust with Alina. He doesn’t even realize his friend has green eyes. He is pretty boring to read about. Alina couldn’t care less about Bea or Quinn. She is the bad girl of the story. She was pretty mediocre for the bad girl.

They weren’t bad characters. I just found them boring and unrelatable

Plot & Writing:
Wow, the idea was amazing. A world with no air? This could go far.

But instead, there was an unnecessary, undeveloped rebellion and some sort of nature walk. I don’t really get why they’re walking out and why they are still following Alina, even though they know something’s up with her. The plot didn’t really make any sense and as a result I couldn’t follow it.

The writing had a lot of problems. There were weird things in the ARC that didn’t make any sense (such as a guy talking with no air) but other wise it was pretty standard. The writing lacked a lot of emotion.

What I liked and didn’t:
• The Multiple POVS
• The interesting idea
• Interesting beginning

• Lack of originality
• Not really doing anything with lack of air. More of a side problem than anything else
• Story tapers off at 50%
• boring characters

In conclusion:
Breathe is not for everyone. I didn’t like it, but you might, though!


Favorite Character: N/A
Favorite Quote:


Rating: No Rating
Profile Image for Mel Barnes.
214 reviews21 followers
February 8, 2017
Read April 22, 2012
Reread December 30, 2016

Wow...I'm stunned. This is an amazing story and I'm so excited that there will be a sequel. I'm really only bummed that I have to wait a year or so until it's out. :)

I wrote a proper review on my blog at
Profile Image for Sandra .
160 reviews375 followers
December 31, 2012
In a world with no trees, no air, no truth... There is no choice but to fight back.

Breathe by Sara Crossan is a dystopia describing life in a new society that has arisen following the collapse of the one that we know. And it's the first in a trilogy, thus the story is a long way from being resolved by the end of this volume. It runs for three hundred and seventy one pages. And is divided into five parts [four long and one very short] and fifty seven chapters.

So far so familiar.

So what does Breathe offer to make it stand out in a rather crowded genre and marketplace?

It's the story of life in the world after the Switch. In a treeless world, oxygen levels have plunged. And only a few get to live in the Pod. A self contained habitation, divided into various zones. Air is provided by the breathe corporation. Who give the residents regular vaccinations. Society is divided into two groups. Premiums and auxiliaries. Only the former are able to afford to live a good life.
Anyone who doesn't go along with society in the Pod is ejected. And anyone living outside the Pod may not last long, as there's not a lot of air there.

There are 3 main characters. 1)Bea. 2)Quinn. 3)Alina. They each have a very different personality's.

The beginning was pure TORTURE for me. I couldn't get into it. I hated the characters and the book itself. But after like 150 pages it got better and better. It got so good in fact, that i couldn't put it down. I started to like the characters and the plot.

Speaking of characters. There IS a love triangle. But it was just till the middle of the book ( which is good, cause i'm getting tired of those love triangles). It was like this - Bea was secretly in love with her best friend Quinn, but Quinn had a crush on Alina ( a girl he have just met), and Alina had a crush on this boy called Abel ( who died pretty soon). It then, thank god, get's sorted out. Quinn finally sees Bea and how beautiful she is and u know whats gonna happen, ' love is in the air' yada yada. It was really bugging me, this love triangle, I'm ok with having the ' 2 boys fighting over a girl' type of triangle, but the other way around triangles? Not so much.

I don't know what else to say.

Just to reassure any non-romantic potential readers that despite the love triangle it really isn't a lovely touchy feel book but actually a really good and at most times action packed book. I really enjoyed this book and shall definitely be on the look out for the next in the series.

Breathe is very enjoyable but I do think there are better dystopian YA novels out there. I will pick up the next book in the series because I believe there is potential here.

Overall, Breathe is an amazing book! Leaves you on a cliff hanger, I actually shouted "more!". Definitely worth a read, you will not be left disappointed. Just wish I didn't have to wait a year for the next one.
919 reviews255 followers
December 29, 2012
The idea isn't too bad, the concept was kid of pulled off but the fact remains that for me, reading yet another YA dystopia told in first-person present-tense was a little grating and - dare I say it - boring. I've heard good things about this author but found the writing style bland, and the character voices hard to distinguish between. I literally had to double check each chapter so I was sure who's "voice" was being used. Still, I think for a quick read I'm interested enough to pick up the sequel, eventually.
Profile Image for Marcia.
1,053 reviews109 followers
April 26, 2016
Ik heb enorm genoten van het herlezen van Breathe. De geschetste toekomstvisie is interessant en de diversiteit aan personages zorgt dat je een duidelijk beeld krijgt van het dagelijks leven in the Pod. Ik moet echter wel zeggen dat ik graag iets meer details had gelezen over het ontstaan van deze levenswijze en de romantiek had van mij een beetje minder gemogen. Toch zou ik dit originele en goedgeschreven verhaal zeker aanraden!

Mijn complete recensie lees je op Oog op de Toekomst.
Profile Image for Tímea.
Author 0 books15 followers
April 9, 2015
Jediná vec, ktorá ma naštvala bola, že kniha skončila moc otvorene a ja chcem dvojku :D
Profile Image for Annabelle.
470 reviews915 followers
July 8, 2012
*****FINAL RATING: 4.80 STARS*****

I absolutely adored this book. It is seriously one of my favorite reads of 2012. It is without a doubt completely unlike anything I've ever read. Not your formulaic dystopian, Breathe has some serious action balanced by some killer romance! The characters were incredibly likable and the plot and the writing made me absolutely fall in love. Everything about it was original and fresh, and I loved some of the brilliant ideas involved. One of my favorite ever books for sure, Breathe has found a place in my heart.

Aline is a really hard and sometimes insensitive character, but she never backs down from what she believes in. She lets her guard down one and that's enough to scare her into becoming someone she's not. Bold and brave, Aline seems like she's not afraid of anything, but inside she can be conflicted. She's one of the most human characters I've ever read about and while in the beginning it was a struggle to identify with her, I quickly found myself pulled into her character.
Bea is as amazing a heroine as Aline, but in a completely different way. She's quiet but brilliant. She's spent her whole life following the rules, doing what she's told—until she meets Aline and begins to question everything she was taught. Instead of shrinking back, she finally learns to stand up for herself and she does what's right. Bea is an extremely relatable character, and definitely has a bit of every girl in her.

Despite his name, which you will never convince me is not a girl name, Quinn is actually a pretty awesome character. He's adorably dense and constantly misses what's right in front of him. Sure, that's a tad cliché, but whatever! Quinn, unlike Aline and Bea, is from the privileged class. Yet when he meets Aline and she begins to show him that there could be another world, better one, even he starts to question everything he knows. Instead of simply ignoring her and going back to his privileged life, where he can have anything, he too decides what's right and he's not afraid to risk himself for it.

Breathe had an awesome and original plot. I seriously could not put this book down, because it was so intense that I constantly needed to know what was going to happen next.

Love, lies, betrayal—oh, and death. That's another thing I loved. Sarah wasn't afraid to kill off characters, even characters who were important to our heroines and hero! And that's always a really good thing to see, if you ask me. It shows her confidence in her book and her plot.

In a world where there's only limited air and a totalitarian government controls everything, how do you find a way to rebel? How do you leave the only home you've ever known and leave for a place where you risk running out of air? How do you stay strong when you feel like you might be dying? When those you love are dying around you? These are the kinds of difficult questions that Sarah asks, and the ones she begins to answer so beautifully.

The plot is anything but predictable, which is great, since I've been reading way too many predictable books lately. Every twist, every turn was unexpected, and I could never tell which direction the story was going to take until it was already there. I became completely engrossed in this book, and loved everything about it.

I loved the gorgeous world-building, too. I honestly could feel like I was actually there, and Sarah did an awesome job of making sure everything fit together and no detail was left unsaid. The world was described beautifully and there were enough visual details that you can really picture the Pod and the other places where our heroes travel to. It wasn't just a background for the plot, but played an essential role itself in the story.

Seriously, Breathe contained one of the best romances I've ever read about. When I first began, I was sure that there was going to be an irritating love triangle. I could not be happier to have been wrong! I absolutely adored the romance in this book, and the way it's a major part of the story but also doesn't monopolize the plot. It's cute and sweet and realistic. While I think it was a tad underdeveloped in the novel, I also believe that it should be given the benefit of the doubt. The underdevelopment isn't even really a major issue for me, but I did feel like I should mention it. If you read the book (which you should!) I think you'll agree with me.

Sarah has lovely, gorgeous, beautiful writing. I seriously love it. It's descriptive and lush without being overbearing or desperate. The voices of the individual characters really come through and their feelings are practically tangible. It's so easy to picture her world and really become Aline, Bea, and Quinn. I really don't have any complaints here—I loved it. Some of the best writing I've come across in a long time, and I could not be happier to say that.

Breathe ended on a cliffhanger—of course, right?—that left me desperate for more! And yet at the same time, it didn't feel like a cheap trick. Despite being desperate for the next book, I still felt entirely satisfied with this one. The ending was sweet but there were sad moments too, but overall there was the feeling of needing to move on from the past and get ready for the future, a sentiment that in a way embraces the entire ideals of these novels.

I'll definitely be reading the rest of this series, and I think i just might be a Sarah Crossan fan for life! Not only was the plot spectacular and original, but the characters were extremely likable and the writing was without a doubt incredible. I'm eagerly waiting on the next book—and trust me, after reading this, you'll be desperate to know what happens next too. Again, this is one of my all-time favorites, and I can only hope you enjoy it as much as I did! I highly recommend it.


Find more of my reviews on Sparkles and Lightning!
Profile Image for Karen Barber.
2,613 reviews61 followers
May 18, 2020
In Breathe we’re asked to imagine a world without oxygen. We don’t know why, but the world is now split into two distinct groups - the Premiums who can afford to buy the oxygen they need, and the Subs whose access is carefully rationed. People seem to be living under giant domes where everything is carefully regulated, and the truth about outside is hidden from all.
We focus on three characters, from different backgrounds. Through rather tenuous links they end up together on the outside, trying to find their way to those who want to help the world find a new way. There’s a sense of camaraderie between them, but I always got the feeling it was borne out of circumstance rather than a genuine bond.
This dystopian setting has all the features/elements you’d expect. It’s plotted in a way to draw you in and keep you waiting for the resolution of the main problem. For me, though, it just never quite clicked. I felt like there were a lot of characters who featured that weren’t fleshed out in a way to help me connect with them. The actual rebellion seemed to spring out of nowhere and I always got the impression people were reacting to events rather than pushing an agenda.
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