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.
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