Book Review: Breathe by Cliff McNish

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Cliff McNish
Genre(s): Horror, Paranormal
Published: January 1st 2006
Pages: 232
Rating: 3.5 stars

Jack is used to danger. His asthma has nearly killed him more than once. But his new home has a danger he's never known before -- the spirits of the dead.

The can't breathe.

But in Jack's house, they can chase, hide, scream.

Only Jack can see them. Only he can hear them. And only he can learn their secrets in time to save his mother -- and himself...

I class myself as a horror fan. Not a big one, mind you, but I do enjoy a scary story every now and again. I like being left shaken and wondering if the things from the book are actually real and are coming to get me, even if it means I don't get to sleep for a week.

Maybe it's because I mainly read Stephen King when I read horror, or maybe it's because I'm not as much as a wimp as I first thought, but Breathe wasn't very scary. Quite creepy, yes, but not in the 'I need to put the book down for a while' kind of way.

I haven't read any typical ghost stories, so this was a nice change for me. I enjoyed how Jack, the main character, had a paranormal ability to sense other people through touching the furniture in the house and could talk to spirits. It wasn't overdone, like a lot of paranormal things tend to be, nor was it just done for the sake of it; it actually had a point to it and helped the story develop and unfold.

Speaking of the story, it was definitely interesting and intriguing. I was always wondering what's going to happen next? at the end of each chapter, and I found it a little tricky to try and figure it out. Normally, I'm quite good at figuring plots out (especially in cliché books) but I was pleasantly surprised that guessing Breathe's storyline was more difficult.

I did find the writing to be quite simple and more for children and younger readers than young adult/adults readers. It wasn't necessarily bad, but it did get a little boring at times, what with all the simple sentence openers. (Although that's probably because I've found myself reading more 'adult' books lately, and they have a distinctly different style of writing compared with young adult and young reader books). I think the flow of the writing and the story combined was good, but if the plot hadn't have been so interesting I think I would have enjoyed the writing less. It made for easy reading, though, and I found myself racing through this book and not having to stop and puzzle out the meaning of a word or anything.

Overall, I'd say Breathe fits more into the paranormal and supernatural genres rather than horror (that's not a bad thing! I enjoy paranormal and supernatural stories!), but that it's a quick, interesting read. I didn't find myself totally submerged in the story and right on the edge of my seat, but I don't regret buying and reading it. 

I'd definitely recommend Breathe to any younger readers that are looking for something spooky and trying to break into the horror genre.

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