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.Mark on Goodreads
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.
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I'm really happy to be hosting Hafsah Laziaf today on our blog! She is a dear Twitter friend and the debut author of that beautiful book you see above! I've just started reading UNBREATHABLE and I'm already enjoying the writing, and intrigued by the story! To get you interested, here's a little excerpt!
The mutants are fast. They surround me in a flurry before I have a chance to make it a few feet. I glance helplessly down the nearest row of houses as three women hurry into a house, one of them carrying a toddler against her hip. They whisper and throw nervous glances my way before the door slams shut. I’ll find no help here.
I scan the faces of the Jute. Other than their unmasked faces and uncanny beauty, there isn't a way to tell they aren't human.
But I can tell one thing: the dark-haired Jute in the center is the leader of the five. His long coat, rich and dark, billows behind him in the wind. The others stand slightly behind him, their clothes faded compared to his, but new compared to my own. He stands out. His features look familiar, but I’m too far to tell for sure.
"We aren't here to hurt you,” he calls.
His voice reminds me of Julian. Maybe it's because I’ve heard very few young men speak before. My mind strays to the countless weapons in the training room. Why did I run?
"What do you want with me?" My voice cracks.
He laughs, the sound deep. "You. I want you."
"Leave her alone, Rowan." Someone shouts behind me. Julian. Relief floods my veins. He raises a black bow, and I hear the sharp slice of metal as he draws an arrow back.
"Didn't think I'd see you again in this life," Rowan shouts back with a one-sided grin.
Their voices. Rowan. Julian. The same.
Julian narrows his eyes. "I said leave. Or they're all dead."
Rowan moves his mutant forward and his hair ruffles in the wind. He holds his arms out in mock defiance.
There’s a swoosh of air behind me. One after the other, the Jute on either side of Rowan fall and oxygen seizes in my chest. The mutants groan and take off into the emptiness beyond human land.
Rowan surveys the fallen bodies lazily. Carelessly. "I need her. Not them."
"Leave, or I'll shoot." Julian says. His voice is tight.
But the same arrow is nocked in his bow. Someone else killed Rowan's men.
Rowan jumps down from the creature. "You. Shoot me?" He laughs. "No, Jules, not even if your life depended on it. But I-"
He falls when two blasts of blue hit him square in the chest and his body jerks in silent spasms. Not dead.
I turn to Julian, my eyes wide. The wind howls suddenly.
"Teach me," I wheeze. Neither of us says anything else.
I tremble as I walk. Julian looks at me with sympathy and I hate it. But I keep walking. The farther away I can get from the Jute named Rowan and his dead crew, the better. Every few steps, Julian glances back, as if he expects something. Someone.
I just want to clear my mind. I just want answers. I need them.
"You knew him," I say. Fear pulses in my veins: he wanted me.
Julian clenches his jaw. "Yes."
I can tell he doesn't want me to push. But I need to know what's going on.
An arrow sinks into the dust ahead of me and a cloud of red explodes over my clothes. I jump with a gasp but Julian stills. And someone laughs defiantly.
A girl about my age and height walks toward us. Her eyes are dark shards of glass. I’ve seen penetrating eyes like those before. Her pitch-black clothes are tight and her stark white hair is cut short, falling in messy strands over her right eye. Everything about her screams pride. She strolls past us and plucks her arrow from the dirt. Julian throws a nervous glance at me before facing her.
"Dena. What are you doing here?" He sounds wary.
"What, no 'thank you'?" She places one hand on her hip and waves the arrow with the other.
"Thanks for what? Killing them? For immobilizing Rowan? I could have done that." But his voice lacks the conviction of his words.
She doesn't even spare me a glance before sauntering over to him. Close to him. Closer than close. She presses her body against his and leans in, so their faces are barely breaths apart.
"No, Julian," she breathes. He leans away, but she leans closer. "For saving you from my father."
That’s where I’ve seen those eyes. She’s Chancellor Kole’s daughter. My sliver of dislike increases. That’s why Julian wasn’t at the gallows.She saved him from Chancellor Kole, not Slate. Not me, like I wanted to.
The tips of his ears turn pink and he opens his mouth. She raises her finger and traces his lips. "Shh, don't give me that 'I wanted to die' crap again."
I inhale sharply. Julian was trying to get himself killed in the Chamber. The reality of that hits me in the stomach.
They stare at each other. Even from the side, Julian is beautiful. The way his cheekbones cut into his skin, the way his lips press against one another, and his eyelids slowly drape over his sharp eyes.
Dena's gaze flickers to his lips and my cheeks burn. I don't want to see anymore. I wipe my sweaty palms down my pants and hurry towards the Tower.
It wasn't Julian who saved me. It was Dena. I don't feel afraid anymore. No, this is disgust. Anger at my cowardice.
I hear Dena screech and Julian sigh. I want to cover my ears and wash my eyes.
"Lissa, wait!" Julian calls. I stop, but don't turn around.
"Thank you saving me," I say. He flinches at my monotone.
"It's not what you think."
"I don't think anything. It's none of my business," I say. Even I'm surprised at the bitterness in my voice.
By the time we near the Tower, my anger has faded, and every heartbeat of silence makes me more embarrassed.
Julian looks at me. "There was one point in my life when I wanted so many things, her included. I thought I loved her.”
I purse my lips. But he knows I’m listening.
"Then my mom died." His voice is a soft, pained whisper. "I loved her so much. More than anything. And I-I couldn't save her." He chokes off in a humorless laugh.
"I didn't want anything after that. Not Dena, not Earth, not even my life. Life lost its meaning. I've been trying to join my mom ever since. And Dena-"
"It wasn't love."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hafsah Laziaf was born on the east coast on a hot summer day in 1993, raised on the west coast and is now stuck in the middle – in Texas – with more books than she can read. She’s the designer behind IceyDesigns and the blogger behind IceyBooks. UNBREATHABLE is her debut novel.