Review: Unbreathable by Hafsah Laziaf

23 November, 2013 Reviews 6 comments

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Unbreathable by Hafsah LaziafUnbreathable by Hafsah Laziaf
Series: Standalone
Published by Self-Published on October 29th 2013
Pages: 379
Genres: Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

One hundred and fifty years ago, Earth was destroyed, and the remaining humans fled to the dusty red planet of Jutaire, where the only oxygen is manufactured, food is scarce, and death strikes often.

When Lissa's father discovers Earth still exists, she accidentally inhales the toxic air of Jutaire, and in one breath, discovers she isn't quite human.

Her father hangs for his discovery, and Lissa knows the Chancellors will come for her, for she saw the Earth that night too. With nothing to lose, she sets out to expose the truth. It isn't long before she meets Julian, a beautiful boy who can breathe the toxic air like she can - and shows her that the Jute, the original inhabitants of the planet, are more tangled in their lives than she knows.

But the Chancellors are only pawns in a greater game - one where the Jute control everything. Worse, the Jute plan to leave Jutaire for Earth, but to get there, they need her. And they'll stop at nothing until Lissa is in their clutches, even if they kill every human in the process.

The race for Earth has begun.

Unbreathable is a tale of love, redemption, and sacrifice, and one girl's struggle to find her place in a world where she doesn't belong.

I should start this review with a disclaimer: I am friendly with this author and I have a lot of respect for her as a fellow blogger. However, I hope to review this book with as little bias as possible. Also, this is a review of an early e-ARC and I’ve been informed that the finished copy may have had a few significant changes. I’ll try and indicated that, but I haven’t checked the e-ARC against the finished copy, so please keep that in mind while reading this review.

Initially I was very excited to start Unbreathable because not only is Sci-Fi one of my favorite genres, but I also love when books take place on different planets or in space. I figured Unbreathable would fit the bill since it’s toted at a Sci-Fi adventure. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up loving it as much as I thought I would.

1. Pacing

About half of Unbreathable‘s problems could have been solved if the pacing was a little slower. The beginning was entirely too fast and didn’t give the reader a chance to get to know the main character, Lissa. Instead, we are dumped into a situation, given a brief background and expected to simply keep up with the events that followed. The problem with that was that Lissa supposedly undergoes quite a bit of character development after she starts combat training. Afterwards, we are told how much of a shy girl she was, how she was now stronger and more confident. But since we didn’t get to know Lissa before that event, there was nothing there for me to make that connection or see that growth.

Laziaf’s writing style also conflicted with the pacing. The use of short sentences and very descriptive passages was lovely by itself, but made the book feel like it should have been moving slower vs. the events happening back to back.

2. Character Development

I didn’t connect with any of the characters and disliked them for the most part. There’s an evil queen, an evil brother, the love interest, the girl with the power to save everyone. It was all very run of the mill and lacked depth. Why was the queen evil? What was her motivation? It felt like she was evil for the sake of being evil. There was also Mia’s character that confused me. What was her purpose besides being a filler character? There wasn’t anything more to these characters besides what their role involved plot-wise.

Why did Lissa seem to forgive everyone, even the bad guys? Oh, you’ve killed off people forever and even tried to kill Lissa and her family/friends and now you’re dying or you’re sorry? No problem! Lissa will forgive you! Not every character can be redeemable, but that is exactly what happened in Unbreathable. It didn’t make Lissa seem forgiving or mature, but the contrary: naïve and lacking self-preservation.

3. The Romance & Plot

If you prefer your Sci-Fi with a stronger romantic focus, then there is a chance Unbreathable will be for you. However, if you are like me and prefer the romance to take a backseat to the plot and action, Unbreathable may disappoint you. Even though the events and plot moves fast, the romantic scenes were well-written and were clearly the strongest parts of the novel. In fact, if Laziaf’s next novel were a contemporary romance, I’d be all over it.

As for Unbreathable‘s romance, it tried to do entirely too much. There was the main romantic arc between Lissa and Julian that could have been sweet had it had proper time to develop. Then, there was the side romance between Lissa and Rowen that was strange, creepy and uncomfortable.

At the same time, the main focus of the book is supposed to be the race for earth, but those parts are rushed just to get to the next kissing scene (the best parts of the novel were the kissing scenes). I would have liked if Unbreathable made up its mind on what kind of book it wanted to be. Did it want to be an epic love story with a Sci-Fi backdrop (Space Opera) or did it want to be the action novel that it was marketed as? Trying to accomplish both of these things, left the book wide open to plot holes and, ultimately, feeling incomplete for me.

I didn’t really buy the love between Julian and Lissa, though, this may be due to the beginning moving too fast. Their feelings did seem to develop very strongly and quickly, allowing Lissa to call Julian “The One” not long into their relationship. This was very unbelievable to me since Lissa had been raised in isolation from everyone besides her father. She had zero experience with boys and love (something she admits to), but somehow ends up falling for one of the first boys she interacts with.

Then, enter Rowen, the bad boy. I believe his romance with Lissa was introduced to give Lissa more choices, but he was not redeemable in my eyes and I really don’t understand why Lissa liked him, and eventually, confessed to loving him in the span of a few days. (This may be one of the things that is changed in the final copy.)

I just couldn’t ship these peeps.

In conclusion, Unbreathable didn’t measure up to my expectations. I needed more plot, more character development and better world building to connect to the story. While the premise promised an exciting adventure, I found it lacked the action and finesse to pull it all together.

e-ARC was provided by the author for an honest review.

Steph Sinclair

Steph Sinclair

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
I'm a bibliophile trying to make it through my never-ending To-Be-Read list, equal opportunity snarker, fangirl and co-blogger here at Cuddlebuggery. Find me on GoodReads.

6 Responses to “Review: Unbreathable by Hafsah Laziaf”

  1. Christie

    I’ve been seeing a ton of 4 and 5 star reviews for this one and was hoping to get a copy for myself soon. After reading your review, though, I’m not quite sure anymore. Lissa doesn’t sound like a character I’ll like. And dang, that romance sounds… just plain unacceptable.
    Christie recently posted…Mini Reviews: Books I Didn’t EnjoyMy Profile

  2. Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    As you know, I debated joining the blog tour for Unbreathable and was really worried I missed out. I was way too busy thought, so it was smart to skip. Also, based on your review, odds are I would not have liked Unbreathable in the slightest either.

    Sci fi needs plot first, with romance coming way after. For me. Also, two romances that basically instalove? O_O No.
    Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted…Blog Tour Review: Sense & SensibilityMy Profile

  3. Leigh @ Little Book Star

    Aw maaan! I’m a huge sucker for young adult science fiction especially if it takes in a different planet, but I just don’t like how the romance took over the plot. I also don’t like it when a book has too many unanswered questions. What’s up with the evil queen? That queen SHOULD have a reason of why she’s evil and not just for the sake of having a villain in the story. I was thinking of reading this one, but now my mind has changed. Sorry you did not like it.
    Leigh @ Little Book Star recently posted…The Book Blogging Community in 20 Yrs. {Discuss #7}My Profile

  4. Shannelle C.

    I’m so relieved that there’s actually a review for this one that’s lower than a 4! It’s like everyone loves it, and I’m just so skeptical of it. It doesn’t really help that it was written by a book blogger either. I can’t be sure if friendships affected decisions, even subconsciously.
    Shannelle C. recently posted…The Ridiculous Ebook Prices I SeeMy Profile

  5. Kurt

    What a material of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable familiarity on the topic of unpredicted emotions.
    Kurt recently posted…KurtMy Profile

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