Most of human kind died during the Switch, when the level of oxygen in the air dropped to nearly nothing. The small percentage of survivors now live in an enclosed dome where manufactured air is pumped into the environment by Breathe. The catch is that you have to pay for any extra air you use. Quinn is a Premium, the son of a rich and powerful member of the Breathe company who has always had everything he ever wanted or needed at his fingertips. He’s best friend Bea, on the other hand, is an Auxiliary. She’s the daughter of a poor working class family who struggles to pay for the air they breathe, much less anything extra. Then there is Alina, a rebel who steals plant clippings for the Rebellion and wants to show everyone the truth. Is the bubble society the only way to live now? Or can we learn to exist on lower amounts of air? This trio end up on a journey that will lead to unexpected truths and the realization that maybe some things are worth fighting for.
The three main characters were all interesting in their own way, but Bea has to be my favorite. Quinn starts off as annoying, being the privileged upper class man who doesn’t know how hard life can be and Alina is just too…..cold? She shows very little emotion and is hard to relate to. Bea, though, is easy to root for. Quiet, poor girl who has been in love with her best friend for years, just waiting for him to notice. As the story progresses, all three characters grow in different ways. Quinn and Bea both become adamant that things need to change, while Alina finally opens up enough to start to care about them. Bea constantly stands up for what she believes is right, regardless of what Quinn or Alina think about it, starting with the insistence that they help Maude. Maude may just be my favorite character. She’s an old drifter they come upon who is just trying to survive. She has done terrible things in her life, but somehow she manages to carry on.
Initially, this novel irritated me quite a bit. I really try to avoid love triangles, but since I love dystopian and the two seem to be linked, I try to deal with it as best I can. What bugged me most was how head over heels Quinn instantly was for Alina. You don’t even know her, she’s just pretty and you want to hit that. I couldn’t help sympathizing with Bea because I knew there was no way he was going to choose her over Alina because they never do, right? They always choose the new and exciting person, while the sweet friend who has been there for you all along is left in the dust, right? ****SPOILER****Except that he does, which is a reason to love this novel. He eventually sees Bea as a woman, not just his friend and chooses her. You can imagine my joy.
My other big issue was that the first half is so fucking boring. It literally put me to sleep. It has taken me over a month to finish because it make me tired every time I read it. I read some while taking a bath before bed and my eyes started drooping. Fine, it’s late, I’m tired, I’ll read more later. I read some on my lunch break for work and my eyes started drooping. Fine, I didn’t sleep well last night and I’m still tired. I read some after work while waiting for my college classes to start and my eyes started to droop. I’m noticing a pattern here. Until about half way through, I could only read in 20 pages increments because it literally made me want to take a nap. Once you get past that, though, it’s pretty hard to put down. Once you make it to resistance headquarters, the pace picks up drastically. Things start moving and the next thing you know, it’s over.
So ups are the characters show quite a bit of growth and things become very intense towards the end, but the downs are love triangle, cliffhanger, and don’t forget the overly boring beginning. I think it’s worth the effort though and I’m excited to see where the next book takes me.