ARC Review: Unbreathable by Hafsah Laziaf

ARC Review: Unbreathable by Hafsah LaziafUnbreathable by Hafsah Laziaf
Series: Unbreathable #1
Published by Hafsah Laziaf on October 29, 2013
Genres: dystopian, romance, science fiction, space, young adult
Source: ARC from author
Add it: Goodreads
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.

How do I even talk about THIS AMAZINGLY AWESOMELY WONDERFULLY INCREDIBLE BOOK??? I don’t know. And that’s why it’s taken my so long to publish this review. WHAT DO I SAY, HAFSAH??? Do I say that your writing blew me away? That the story of Lissa and Julian and all the other characters made my heart feel things it hadn’t felt in a long time? That before I even finished the book, I knew it was going to be one of my favorites OF ALL TIME???

Because all those things happened – AND THEN SOME. *dies*


*revives to life*


*peeks around* Ok ok, damn. I’ll try to write a real review now.

UNBREATHABLE is the story of Lissa, a seemingly ordinary girl who, abruptly and amidst tragedy, discovers she’s not so ordinary after all. When I told Hafsah I would read this, I had no idea what to expect. I worried A LOT because I’d just recently had my first experience where I didn’t really like the book an author I loved had written. Writing that review was such a difficult experience and not one I wanted to repeat with someone who was even closer to me. But at the same time, something in me just knew that Hafsah held the potential for greatness and there was a very real chance that that potential would manifest itself in this book.

And I was not disappointed.

Now, before I continue let me just say here that my review has NOTHING to do with the fact that Hafsah is my friend. I pride myself on honest reviews, so everything I’m about to say is how I really feel about this book and not just me being nice. That being said…

This book is a must read for anyone who, well, enjoys reading. I had a really hard time finding fault with this story. I loved Lissa; I felt she was a admirable heroine who gained a lot of strength and integrity throughout the story despite the mistakes, setbacks, and doubts she dealt with. Julian was perfect – mysterious and REAL and, often surprisingly at first, heart-warming. Dena is spirited and ornery, Rowan is cruel and scary, Slate is raw and intense, but none of them is exactly what they first seem. The layers are there and they get explored – some briefly, and some more in depth. I want to talk about all the others as well, but it’s difficult to say anything without being spoilery so I’ll just say that Ms. Laziaf did a good job of developing her characters. They felt believable and mostly unpredictable. And speaking of developing, the world-building was fantastic as well. This story doesn’t take place on Earth, but the Mars-like planet of Jutaire is still strangely familiar and easily imaginable.

Now for some brutal honesty. I made the mistake of scanning some of the reviews people have left on Goodreads and I want to address some of the things that seemed to be recurring issues. So: is the story, at times, a bit predictable? Yes. But what story isn’t? Predictability is a hard, hard master to escape in writing. But here’s my take: I never once thought while reading UNBREATHABLE, “Man, this is predictable.” It just didn’t happen. Only after I’d read it and sat down to analyze the story critically did I see those parts. Most importantly, though, the predictability didn’t subtract AT ALL from the uniqueness of the story. And there were so many unpredictable twists that they more than made up for their counterpart. So please please, when you read this book don’t go into it expecting “predictable.” I hate I even brought it up at all, but a review is a review, right?

Another issue: insta-love. Was there some insta-love in the story? Well, depending on how you define insta-love, I guess so. But, being someone who is living a real-life fairytale whose story includes some insta-love of its own, I’m a believer. This is not an aspect of books that usually bothers me because sometimes THAT’S HOW REAL LIFE HAPPENS. I met my husband very randomly and I knew I was in love with him within the first month. It didn’t take years for us to figure out we were meant to be together. Our souls recognized each other and that’s all there was to it. I honestly hate to see this term used so much but there are some books where it happens and you’re looking around all crazy-like asking how in the world – however, this book is not one of those. It works. IT WORKS. Just accept it.

So many hard hearts out there. Let the light and warmth of insta-love into your reading lives! It’s such a beautiful thing when done right. I WANT TO SPREAD GOOD INSTA-LOVE TO ALL THE WORLD!!! *flings arms wide*

Ok, anyway…there’s my review. I absolutely loved this book and will probably re-read it soon – and if you know me, you know that’s huge. I hope that all of you who read this will read it and enjoy it because it’s incredible and deserves to be loved. My admiration and congratulations to Hasfah on her debut novel – a masterful piece of art. I’m honored to have been one of the first to read it, before it was an ARC, when it was still just a Word file and a nervous prayer. <3


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About the author /

Hi. My name is Shannon and I like books. And photography. And video games. I use this space to talk about books, review books, and generally participate in badassery.


  1. Erin Albert Books

    OMG! I’ve heard the BEST stuff about this book! I can’t wait to read it!! Squeal!

    • Shannon

      It is definitely worth the read! One of my top 10 books of 2013!

  2. KG

    This book sounds absolutely divine. I love Hafsah’s blog and had no idea she published a book! That’s super awesome in itself, thanks for such an amazing review! I want to read this book NOW lol.

    Best xoxo,

    • Shannon

      I’m glad you enjoyed my review, KG! Thanks for stopping by!

      Do let me know what you think if you decide to read the book! :]

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Hi. My name is Shannon and I like books. And photography. And video games. I use this space to talk about books and particpate in badassery. You can read a bit more about my awesomeness and how Twilight Sleep came to be (the name has absolutely NOTHING to do with the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, contrary to popular belief) on the about page. :]

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