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Breathe avoided many of the pitfalls I dislike in YA dystopian fiction but also never managed to hit any of the powerful high-notes I expect either.
The effect therefore was fairly middling novel.
Breathe establishes the clichéd uber-government that allows the rich to crush the poor version of the future. But the idea that it is the very air we breathe being controlled and unfairly distributed was fascinating.
The characters were interesting, each having a unique point of view on either side of the rich/poor divide and the rebel/government conflict. But I didn't get a satisfying sense of development or growth from their stories, possibly due to what felt like a rather brief amount of time with each of them.
The book doesn't draw out the conflict to establish a trilogy which was very refreshing. But the climax felt rushed and was ultimately unaffecting because it their wasn't enough set-up to pay-off.
See what I mean about middling?
It all just kind of averaged out to be a good, basically well-down book but not a particularly satisfying read.
There is a sequel available now but I am still undecided on whether I'll bother continuing - not because Breathe was 'bad' but because I'm not sufficiently driven or invested enough.
As far as the played-out genre of YA dystopian lit goes, I think even fans might be a little disappointed by the romance that doesn't spark, the action that is flat and the story that isn't particularly engaging.
Still something must be said for the premise of a oxygen starved future which was undoubtedly unique and possibly worth checking out in spite of everything.
Finally, since I am reviewing an audiobook I have to address the horrendous British narration. The Cockney accents were almost unbearable particularly when 'street urchin-esque' characters were introduced.
Besides being grating on the ears, the performance was so over-the top it was unbelievable. Anytime a particularly offensive character was 'speaking', I was completely taken out of the book. And I mean that literally because I actually stopped to hand over my ear buds to a friend a few times so we could laugh about it!
Breathe is one instance where the poor audio unfortunately overshadows the narrative and even if I do choose to read the follow-up I'll probably grab a hard-copy!
Would you consider the audio edition of Breathe to be better than the print version?
I loved how the three main characters were brought to life in this audio version.
What other book might you compare Breathe to, and why?
Not sure that I know of any I would directly compare it to, since the Oxygen-starved community isn't a concept I have come across in YA lit before. I enjoyed the slow start and the relationships building in this novel, which was highlighted very believably by the narrator.
Have you listened to any of Anna Parker-Naples’s other performances? How does this one compare?
I haven't heard any of the narrator's work before, but I would definitely add her to my favourites list. Her accent work for various parts of the British Isles was precise and correct regionally ( a real bug-bear of mine!), and this made her work very easy to listen to, and made the characters clear and individual. I was surprised to read another review on here which criticised her Cockney accent characters - to my native ear they were Cornish and Mancunian! - she was absolutely spot on.
The three main characters were well delineated, and I enjoyed the teenage angst and frustrations set amidst life-endangering backdrop of the story. Her teenage boy voice was full of angst and insecurities, and reminded me and a friend of Simon from The InBetweeners (in a good way!)
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
I listened to the book in three days, and hardly wanted to turn it off. My ten year old daughter is listening to it now too, as she kept overhearing sections of it, and couldn't get enough.
Any additional comments?
This is a fantastic novel and I am definitely going to download the second book Resist with my next credits. It was great to come across a British YA novel with a true British narrator. I loved this audiobook!!
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