View from the window seat:
The corporation Breathe found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air, ensuring that Earth’s remaining survivors had a way to live under its protection. But as Quinn and his best friend Bea are about to find out, that protection comes at a price. On their way to a camping trip in the uninhabitable Outlands, they wind up throwing their lot in with Alina, a member of the Resistance and a girl Quinn has a crush on. With Alina, Quinn and Bea begin to question everything they know about their sheltered world.
Much of the dystopian world of Breathe is familiar: a totalitarian government, a harsh Resistance, an uninformed and oppressed public. In this case, I think the familiar works, because I found myself tearing through this book in one sitting. The motives of the people in power made sense to me. They’re not thinking of a distant future where the world has the chance to be repaired. They think only of right now, and how they can keep their power. Everyone in this book is very human and thus believable as characters. There’s no pure evil to fight against. There are just people making bad choices out of greed or fear. There’s also no knight-in-shining-armor. The Resistance is imperfect; its leader, Petra, can be merciless.
The narration is traded between Quinn, Bea, and Alina. What I liked best about these characters is how they change, and more importantly, how they change each other. By following a crush, Quinn is able to finally realize who and what is really important to him. Bea finds something she can fight for and a way to have control over her life. Alina learns to be less stoic and have compassion for those around her. All three evolve in different ways, coming into their own as characters.
There are some loose ends; a lot is left open that I’m hoping will be explored in the next book. It’s almost like this was written as a standalone, but it also ends in a sort-of cliffhanger, so I’m not really sure if it started out as a series or not. For example, a character that’s only briefly in the story brings up a mystery that’s potentially dangerous for the main characters, but this isn’t explored at all. There’s also the fact that two major players in this world are eliminated, so I have a feeling that the world is going to change a lot in the following books.
Breathe easily kept me entertained, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.