Review: Breathe (Crossan)

AUTHOR: Sarah Crossan
SERIES: Breathe, book 1
PUBLISHER: Greenwillow
PUBLICATION DATE: October 2, 2012
ISBN: 9780062118691
PAGES: 373
SOURCE: public library
GENRE: sci-fi/dystopia
GIVE IT TO: upper-MS, HS

SUMMARY: In a world deprived of oxygen, Alina, Quinn, and Bea try to survive life outside the safety of their pod, where oxygen is heavily taxed and regulated.

ROMANTIC HEAT: Chilly. There are a couple of kisses, but I felt very little chemistry between the characters.

REVIEW: I’ve read TONS of dystopias, and I almost always at enjoy them. But with Breathe, I just felt so…underwhelmed. It’s not a bad story and the writing is decent enough; it’s just doesn’t sizzle. I never really connected with the characters or cared about what happened to them. I didn’t even like clueless Quinn until nearly the end, and Alina seemed to have no personality at all.

While the premise–a world with a limited oxygen supply due to extreme deforestation–is somewhat plausible, it didn’t seem very likely to me that the entire world was without trees or the ability to grow any kind of plants. No grass, no algae, no weeds, nothing at all. That’s really difficult to believe, especially since it still rains and snows. The soil must be at least somewhat fertile. Where are all those little dandelion weeds that somehow manage to grow through concrete sidewalks and defy all weed-killers we apply?

I also didn’t understand the need to guard the pod’s entry and exit doors; the world outside the pod is desolate, bleak, dangerous, and without breathable air–why would anyone want to leave? They had a specific line (a very long one) for “auxiliaries” traveling outside the pod. Auxiliaries have the least air of anyone in the pod. They are barely surviving and are infinitely weak and exhausted due to lack of oxygen. Why would they want to leave their homes at all? They barely get enough oxygen inside the pod; what’s so special outside the pod to make them want to sacrifice their precious air tanks to visit a desolate place with even less air? And why on earth would Quinn and Bea want to go camping out there?

THE BOTTOM LINE: Breathe just doesn’t compare with the high-quality YA dystopias we’ve been seeing the past few years. It isn’t terrible, but there are so many stronger choices for YA dystopia fans.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We don’t have it, and I do not plan to get it.

READALIKES: The Gardener (Bodeen)


  • Overall: 2/5
  • Creativity: 2/5
  • Characters: 2/5
  • Engrossing: 2/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Appeal to teens: 3/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 4/5


  • Language: mild-medium; a few sprinkled curses
  • Sexuality: mild-medium; some references to body parts and urinating, a few mild kisses
  • Violence: medium-high; a battle scene where people are bombed and shot at; an angry mob kills a man; officials murder a man by denying oxygen
  • Drugs/Alcohol: mild; government officials (and their young children) drink alcohol; the podmaster frequently drinks from a metal flask (presumably alcohol)
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