Breathe by Sarah Crossan
Bloomsbury, 2012. ISBN 9781408827192.
Recommended. Sarah Crossan has imagined the unthinkable - a treeless, oxygen deprived world where the Ministry rules and the people are divided into Premiums and Auxiliaries.
Quinn, as a Premium, has it all, especially oxygen.He and his family can breathe easily. However, the Auxiliaries, like Bea and her family, and Alina, must pay for every breath that they take and it is hard to work and earn when there is never enough energy giving oxygen.
Bea has four options: to be chosen for the Ministry's Leadership Program where she will gain Premium status; remain an Auxiliary and spend a life struggling to breathe; be banished to, or escape to the Outlands where she will most certainly die without the life giving canisters of oxygen. Alina has no choices.
Part 1 of the series, Breathe, presents the reader with a realistic picture of a destroyed and controlled world where every breath is literally accounted for. Yet even in this world, small pockets of resistance flourish, giving voice to those who challenge the Ministry and where an act of terrorism is the growing of a tree.
Conspiracies abound as Quinn, Bea and Alina narrate individual chapters of the book, giving the reader a different voice and viewpoint as they forge an unlikely alliance where no-one completely trusts the motives of the other.
Crossan avoids the sentimental as she presents the reader with a detailed depiction of a possible future. She has developed a believable range of characters and events that, as she intended, leaves the reader wanting more.