Resist

Resist is the second of Sarah Crossan’s two dystopian Breathe novels; the books are set in a plant-deprived world where the most basic human need – oxygen – is bought and sold in an unequal society. Breathe introduced us to ‘The Pod’ – a living area where the air is breathable, but not equally distributed – and to our three protagonists: Alina, a young member of the Resistance fighting to end oxygen-inequality, Bea, a poor girl trying to better herself through education, and Quinn a ‘Premium’ boy. I felt that Breathe was less than gripping, partly because of the three-viewpoint narrative, and partly because the dialogue was a little stilted, but I was very impressed with the concept of a world where oxygen was commodified in this way – where the rich can afford to breathe easy and the poor must literally save their breath – and I hoped that Book Two would breathe more life into the characters.

Resist opens with our characters separated (after the Government smashed the rebels' Grove at the end of Book One), but all heading for Sequoia, another Resistance hub – Alina in company with other members of the Resistance, and Bea and Quinn accompanied by a lost child. They are on the Pod Government’s ‘wanted’ list as the authorities struggle to contain and crush the rebels. To their three viewpoints, Resist adds another, that of Ronan Knavery, son of a former Pod Minister, who is part of the Special Forces and is tracking the others. Ronan is an interesting character, who needs to make decisions about who to help and which side to choose, but I felt that the addition of yet another voice made this book even choppier than Book One.

Resist examines the different ways people try to change the status quo as Bea and Ronan decide to return to The Pod to try to drum up support from the citizenry, while Alina and Quinn, are at the Resistance hub, Sequoia. However, Sequoia turns out to be a false hope, as Alina and Quinn find that idealists and revolutionaries don’t all share the same values and viewpoints. The idea that no side in a conflict has the monopoly on cruelty and bad behaviour is a timely one, but like with Book One, though I was interested in the concepts and in the world Crossan has created, the characters just didn’t draw me in enough. I felt they never came fully to life.

An interesting duology, but not a compelling or emotionally-engaging one.