Breathe by Abbi Glines
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Once upon a time, I decided that I was never going to read another book by Abbi Glines again after reading books in the Rosemary Beach series. They were books that degraded women and promoted sexist ideas, stigmatized mental illness, and suggested adoption meant that your adoptive parents weren’t your parents. Her books also tended to lack things like plot and proper grammar. Well, I changed my mind when I found the Sea Breeze books in my local public library’s catalog. I figured that if I didn’t have to buy the book that I wouldn’t feel quite as disappointed if it sucked.
I was right.
Of course, I went in with the expectation that the book would be pretty bad, so I shouldn’t have been disappointed at all. But there were still some slight feelings of disappointment. I think they were mainly due to the fact that I felt that a book like this one should not have been published in the first place.
As you have probably figured out by now, I was not a fan of the book. As with other books by Glines, there were serious issues with her writing style. The dialogue never flowed right. Conversations were wooden; they felt forced. There was only one continuity issue that I found, which is better than some authors do. There were some grammar issues, of course. I was a bit taken aback by the capitalization issues with directions. It seemed like no one had been taught that regions get capitalized. I even wondered if maybe I wasn’t remembering my English classes properly. I wasn’t. It was just that the writer and/or the editor failed to recognize it.
There was a lot of repetition going on. One example is the introduction of Dewayne. Over the course of two pages, his name was mentioned six times, including one time where it was misspelled. You would think with that many mentions of him that he was an important character. He wasn’t. I’m not even sure if he showed up at any other point in the book, but I digress. Another example of repetition, in the first twenty pages of the book, Sadie, the seventeen-year old lead female character, complained about the cost of the condoms she bought for her mother. She would go on to complain about that through the book, as well as her mom’s sex life.
Speaking of things Sadie did that were annoying, she was extremely whiny and judgmental. She viewed herself as being superior to her mom because she had never been interested in dating. She was a “good girl” and her mom was treated like some sort of evil, unintelligent, lazy, slutty monster. It was clear fairly early in the book that her mom needed some therapeutic help, but Sadie just wrote her off as being spoiled and selfish.
There was a dependence upon tropes and stereotypes. Marcus, who is four years older than Sadie, was described as a “nice guy” and he behaved in a way consistent being a Nice Guy™. He befriended Sadie when she first started working with him. He was her first friend and she didn’t feel attracted to him, but he was extremely attracted to her–or attracted to what she represented. He would tell her how she wasn’t like other girls, which Jax also told her. (Writers, can you stop using that line in books? No one is 100% like any other person.) As Sadie expressed her body image issues, Marcus told her that he hoped that she stayed “this way. Sweet and innocent.” He basically was telling her that her self-esteem issues made he attractive.
No. No. No.
Marcus also had a tendency to follow her around and always seemed to show up whenever she was crying about something–this was particularly disturbing because the crying typically happened after he shared some gossip about Jax. (He even had his sister stalk her for him.) He was actively working to end her relationship with Jax, which he knew hurt her, so that he could be with her. This is not acceptable. This is not what a nice person does, but it is what a Nice Guy™ would do.
And his badness didn’t end there. Sadie told Marcus that she wasn’t interested in him as anything other than a friend. She told him that she wass in love with Jax. She actually rejected him a few times. And what did he do? He waits until Jax is out of town and Sadie is alone and he kisses her. This was after yet another time where she told him that she wasn’t interested. This is a type of assault. If she hadn’t run away, I wonder if he would have tried to rape her.
You might think that with all this Marcus talk that he was one of the leads. Nope. He was a secondary character. Jax was one of the leads, but Jax was a poorly developed character. As a teen pop star, he had a life that he led in front of the cameras and a different life he led in private. It doesn’t get much more descriptive than that. There was talk of the “old him”, but it was mainly just little mentions of how he had changed at some point in his career. One of the frustrations that I felt towards his character was after the Marcus kiss attack, he flew all the way across the country to rescue Sadie. That felt like he was underestimating Sadie’s ability to take care of herself. In the whole time that they were together, the brooding pop star began making her more and more dependent upon him.
And here’s where I get to another thing that really bugged me about this book. This book felt like Glines took different parts of all four Twilight books and mixed them up, then wrote a story. The love triangle between Marcus, Sadie, and Jax was so similar to Jacob, Bella, and Edward. The annoying behaviors, beliefs, and actions of each character, as well as the levels of character development for each were consistent with those three Twilight characters. I know that the Twilight books are not considered to be particularly high quality writing, but they were so much better than this book’s regurgitation of them.
There were, of course, other little things that made me want to scream. The speech patterns of the various servants who worked at the mansion seemed to be modeled after the slaves from Gone with the Wind. There were regular comments about most girls being materialistic and slutty. There was this association of sexual behavior of women being linked to a lack of self-control, self-esteem, and morals. Sexual women were either super-dumb or super-devious; they were deserving of whatever plight might befall them. Every time Sadie had any sort of sexual experience, something bad happened. Sexist men were treated like they were the perfect specimen of masculinity. It was all very disturbing and infuriating.
If you like past works by Glines, then it’s possible that you will like this one. If you don’t, then you probably won’t.
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