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Breathless by V. J. Chambers

Who is Jason? 

Jason races into Azazel’s life—sweaty, tortured, and hunted by covert forces. Even though her football-player boyfriend doesn’t like it, Azazel is drawn to Jason. He’s so complicated. He gets in fistfights, but always wins them—efficiently and thoroughly. He reads Plato and argues with their AP teacher. But he’s also quiet and serious, haunted by a past he won’t talk about. Azazel feels obsessed. She can’t let anything get in the way of finding out Jason’s secrets, not even her boyfriend, her friends, or her parents. Most importantly, no matter how dangerous Jason claims it is for her to be near him, she can’t let him leave.

As menace begins to surface from even the most trusted and familiar places, Azazel finds herself flung into a whirlwind of sinister motives and clandestine proceedings. Though Azazel evades each escalating danger, her feelings for Jason may prove to be the greatest danger of all.

Note: Breathless contains some harsh language.

A complete novel

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Listed: Jun 29, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

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romance meets suspense – an entertaining, quick read

By A. M. Harte, editor, author of Theatre of Horrors

Nov 13, 2009: This is what I would call a popcorn read – the kind of light-hearted, fun writing that quickly becomes a guilty pleasure.

Breathless follows the typical YA fantasy plot: small town unremarkable do-gooder girl meets mysterious, haunted boy, they fall in love, face death and danger along the way, and end up happy.

What makes Breathless stand out is that it is not, in fact, fantasy. There are no moping werewolves or brooding, sparkly vampires; this is a story set very much in present times, where the forces of evil are religious fanatics rather than demons. To make a (cheesy) comparison, think of it as Twilight meets the Da Vinci Code.

Breathless definitely has a lot of suspense, which I love, and which helps offset the more clichéd aspects of all romance stories. The plot is addictive, the reveal is timed just right, and – I won’t give you any particular spoilers – the resolution is unexpected.

Several comments, however.

While the story is in first person, and thus we get to see inside Azazel (the main character)’s head, I felt the characterization was a little weak. Azazel is immediately bowled over when the mysterious Jason appears in her life, to the extent that her fascination with him his hard to believe, especially considering she isn’t starved for attention as she has a long-term boyfriend.

Of course, that could be explained by her just being easily emotional, but when other, more traumatic events occur, I got little sense of grief or emotion; everything was eclipsed by her love for Jason (and his love for her).

Also – perhaps this is a silly complaint – but as much as Azazel’s name fits in with the plot, I found it an awkward name, one that leapt out at me from the screen every time it appeared, jarring me from the narrative.

All other characters could have been fleshed out further. Even Jason, a secondary main character, is left incomplete; a detailed portrait of a boy, but without life or soul. There was little sense of people’s motivations, meaning that it seemed Azazel is in a world of aggressive cardboard cut-outs.

The tone itself is informal, as befits the genre and the main character, so no complaints there.

The writing is very dialogue-heavy; I think the story could benefit from more description. The writing also falls into the telling instead of showing pitfall, as well as that of superfluous dialogue tags (" ‘God!’ I exclaimed.")

Stylistically, I wasn’t convinced by the email/chat excerpts at the beginning of each chapter – but that is more a personal dislike than anything else.

I’ve mentioned the plot before, and how much I enjoyed it, but I must say the resolution was rushed, which disappointed me; it felt a little like a deus ex with how easily things are resolved.

Lastly, the website itself is fine; it’s easy to navigate, and has a pretty, evocative banner along the top. The video trailer is intriguing, and is actually what got me reading in the first place!

In sum: if you like romance, YA lit, and suspense (and can turn off your inner editor), then this is the story for you. It is a quick, easy, entertaining read, and I am definitely thinking of purchasing the sequel.

4 of 4 members found this review helpful.
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Rollercoaster Ride

By Fiona Gregory, editor

Jul 19, 2010: BREATHLESS is deservedly popular with its teen audience for the heady blend of a fast moving plot with the unexpected around every turn, the passion of star crossed lovers on the run, and the suspense of a (supernatural?) mystery. These are all entertaining elements, but as an older reader, what I found most fun about this tale was the voice of the teen narrator, who starts the tale believing herself a normal high school student in a regular small town – when in fact it soon becomes obvious to the [more . . .]

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Editor’s First Impression

By Chris Poirier, editor

Jun 29, 2009: This one’s an easy read, with a fairly catchy storyline. It’s a bit heavy on dialogue, but solid, nonetheless. Rating may change on further reading.

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Most Helpful Member Reviews

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Standardized YA Romance

By Robert Rodgers, author of The Last Skull

Apr 21, 2010: Readers beware; here there be spoilers.

Breathless follows the misadventures of a teenage couple as they blunder their way through a religious-flavored conspiracy dedicated to the task of either getting them to bump uglies or kill each other. I didn’t stick around long enough to find out which.

I’m not a fan of Twilight, so keep that in mind—harnessing the combined power of teenage sexuality, angst, and hints of the supernatural has [more . . .]

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A fast-paced romp

By Anistasya, member

Feb 14, 2011: I really enjoyed the intensity of this novel. It had me hooked from the first page right through to the conclusion. Although there were some places which could have done with a bit of tightening stylistically, I thought that overall, it was a good story and I was never quite sure where it was going – so it managed to surprise me =D Definitely worth checking out – and if you like it, there are at least three more books in the series.

[more . . .]



By lizzie, member

Jun 21, 2010: i was intrigued with this book when i read the summary and saw that vj compared it to twilight. im a huge twihard so i thought id give it a shot, im a huge bookworm too. i absolutely got hooked on this book and i literally didnt sleep because i needed to finish it and find out the secrets of jason and azazel. i didnt sleep, i was too much in suspense. i couldnt believe the twists and turns, just when i thought i knew the answer, i found out [more . . .]

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