Saturday, January 2, 2010

Review: The Ever Breath by Julianna Baggott

Tags: juvenile fiction, middle grade, fantasy, twins

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Twins Truman and Camille are sent to live with their paternal grandmother when their father disappears. They discover that their grandmother is actually one guardian of the passageway between the human world that they’re used to, and the magical Breath World that consists of all the creatures and phenomena they never believed possible. The two worlds require one another to survive, and the mystical Ever Breath ball keeps the worlds balanced.

However, the Ever Breath has disappeared, and if Camille and Truman don’t embrace their lineage and help out, the passageway could be sealed off and the two worlds could self-destruct. It’s up to the twins to fend off malicious creatures, thwart the iron-fisted Breath World’s government, and locate their dad in a race against time to save the two worlds.


THE EVER BREATH surprisingly and happily brought me back to memories of days when I devoured books by Eva Ibbotson, Roald Dahl, and the like. Young readers about to move past too-easy chapter books will eagerly swallow up this old-fashioned kid-versus-evil adventure tale.

Truman, Camille, and almost all of the characters are remarkably well developed. Truman, with his countless allergies and medical problems, manages to find his place in the Breath World, while his tough-exterior sister learns that she can be vulnerable and still be okay. They read like they could be your friends, or your classmates.

The world-building is fantastic, drawing us in quickly yet beautifully, with interesting but not overwhelming descriptions and happily paced narration. It is clear from her prose that Baggott knows how to write for late-elementary school kids. However, the ending seemed disproportionately swift and too easily wrapped up compared to the amount of detail and attention paid to introducing the characters, setting, and conflict.

In spite of that, THE EVER BREATH is still a worthwhile book to steer kids toward. It brings back all the magic of juvenile fantasy that I often reminisce about. I have a feeling that Baggott’s books will go alongside Eva Ibbotson’s as great reads for 8- to 12-year-olds.

Similar Authors
Eva Ibbotson
Roald Dahl
Mary Pope Osborne

Writing: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
Plot: 3/5

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Cover discussion: 2 out of 5 - It's overly whimsical and scattered for my tastes, but fits the illustrations within the pages pretty well.

Random House / Dec. 22, 2009 / Hardcover / $16.99

Sent to me by Random House for review.


  1. The cover is what I love about this book and what made me stop and check out the summary when I saw it on a blog (maybe yours?). I have it on my wishlist and it's one I'll be picking up soon, I can tell.

  2. Good review. It doens't sound like my type of book, but it seems enjoyable anyways.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. This sounds like the sort of book that would fit well into the school library. Thanks for sharing.


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