Alina, Bea, and Quinn are living in the pod, rigidly controlled by the organization Breathe. Breathe built the pod during The Switch, when deforestation and over-farming caused the planet to run out of oxygen. Only the rich and the very lucky earned places in the pod, and now their children are struggling to survive within the corruption and caste system. Quinn is a Premium. His father is a government official, so Quinn lives in luxury and has as much oxygen as he needs to do whatever he pleases. His best friend Bea is an auxiliary, and her family barely scrapes by, forced to work hard to pay the extreme oxygen tax. Bea dreams of a better life, hopefully one with Quinn in it. Alina is a member of the Resistance, a fugitive after she steals tree cuttings from the biosphere. Quinn and Bea are leaving the pod for a camping trip in the Outlands when Alina runs into them-literally-and begs them to help her escape. Now they are stuck with each other, as they learn about Breathe’s corruption and fight not only for their own survival, but for the freedom of people everywhere.
The book put me in mind of Under the Never Sky, which I read recently. You can read my review here. It was the same sort of theme, which I liked and thought was done well–people living in luxury in a pod, not knowing about the government’s corruption or understanding what’s happening outside the pod. I thought the explanation for why humanity is living in pods to be frighteningly believable. We certainly are cutting trees down at an alarming rate. I also liked the three narrators. Again, this is something I have read recently, both in Under the Never Sky and in Defiance, and I think this variety of point-of-views really adds to the story in all cases. A reader really understands the depth of relationships between characters when it can be read from both sides, and you avoid some female-whining this way as well I think.
While I enjoyed this book, I didn’t think there was anything particularly special about it. It read like other plots I had seen before, despite the change of setting. While I liked Bea, Quinn, and Alina, I didn’t get really attached to any of them, and wasn’t particularly emotionally invested in their struggles. The supporting characters were shallow and boring, and you didn’t really learn anything about any of them. I thought both the Pod Minister and Petra, the leader of the resistance, were cookie-cutter characters and Crossan could have made them much more interesting. I’ll probably read the next book in this series to see what happens, but I’m not desperate for it, like I am for the sequel to Defiance or Insurgent.