Books I Couldn’t Finish: Breathe and Gated

Books I Couldn’t Finish is a sporadic feature where I talk about books I couldn’t finish.

Today’s books are Breathe and Gated.  For some reason, they seem to come in bunches, so I have a couple more!

Breathe CoverBook One: Breathe by Sarah Crossan

What’s It About? Years after the Switch, life inside the Pod has moved on. A poor Auxiliary class cannot afford the oxygen tax which supplies extra air for running, dancing and sports. The rich Premiums, by contrast, are healthy and strong. Anyone who opposes the regime is labelled a terrorist and ejected from the Pod to die.Sixteen-year-old Alina is part of the secret resistance, but when a mission goes wrong she is forced to escape from the Pod. With only two days of oxygen in her tank, she too faces the terrifying prospect of death by suffocation. Her only hope is to find the mythical Grove, a small enclave of trees protected by a hardcore band of rebels. Does it even exist, and if so, what or who are they protecting the trees from?A dystopian thriller about courage and freedom, with a love story at its heart.

Why I Couldn’t Finish It: I honestly don’t remember why I couldn’t finish it- well, mostly.  I remember being pretty disinterested (well, obviously, since I couldn’t finish it) but I just couldn’t care about any of the characters or what was going on.  And I remember being kind of confused about what was going on, because it wasn’t really explained.  I had no idea what the Switch was, or why the oxygen levels changed so dramatically, and I didn’t care enough to see what had happened years before.  It kind of made me feel like I was missing something some essential piece of knowledge that was needed to know what was going on with the book.  And it does make me sad, since the whole premise of the book is actually REALLY interesting.  I just wish it were for me.

Gated CoverBook Two: Gated by Amy Christine Parker

What’s It About?  A fast-paced, nerve-fraying contemporary thriller that questions loyalties and twists truths.

Appearances can be deceiving.

Lyla Hamilton is a loyal member of the Community. Her family was happy to be chosen by Pioneer to join such an lovely gated neighborhood. Here, life seems perfect.

But after meeting Cody, an outsider boy, Lyla starts questioning Pioneer, her friends, her family–everything. And if there’s one thing not allowed in the Community, it’s doubt. As Pioneer cleverly manipulates his flock toward disaster, the real question is: Will Lyla follow her heart or follow Pioneer over the edge?

From the outside looking in, it’s hard to understand why anyone would join a cult. But Gated tells the story from the inside looking out, and from behind the gates things are not quite so simple. Amy Christine Parker’s beautiful writing creates a chilling, utterly unique YA story. Perfect for fans of creepy thrillers and contemporary fiction alike.

Why I Couldn’t Finish It: The thing with Gated is that I wanted to like it.  It really is interesting that after 9/11, the guy in charge of the Community started to put this group together.  I really was reminded of a cult, but as I kept listening…well, this group is really messed up.  I get why they joined the Community (but hated how Lyla blamed herself, even though she was 5 at the time of a family tragedy).  I hated that she was in need of rehabilitation because she can’t shoot a gun- and it’s even worse that the outside world is full of people who will harm them, so you need to show no hesitation to kill.  The people outside this community are already seen as ghosts, because their destiny is to die, and Lyla is wrong in that she still sees them as people.  I get that this is a cult, and that seems pretty typical for cults, but it just got to where I was so angry at Pioneer that I really couldn’t listen anymore.  He’s just such a horrible person, and he made the book hard to get through.

My General Thoughts:

I like the idea of both books, and I wish I liked them!  I just couldn’t get into either book.  Because a world where oxygen is regulated is really scary, and a book about a doomsday cult are books I’d be into…these 2 just didn’t happen to work out for me.

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