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Reviewed by Deborah Leitch for Readers' Favorite
Breathe by Zane Dickens is a captivating short story about a man whose every action falls under the control of a stranger on a phone and the choices he makes to ensure his survival. The reader’s attention is captivated from the normalcy of the first sentence to the horror of the last. The prose is quick and easy and flows beautifully into the heart of the story. A seemingly normal guy with a seemingly normal routine with one small medical condition that has been miraculously cured with the use of nanobots. Nanobots...oh, oh, that can’t be good! The story quickly unfolds and the tension mounts with every paragraph as James, the main character, struggles to survive. The conflict between good and evil, morals and the value we place on individual life are all brought into focus. The reader identifies with James, and personally reflects and asks the question: “What would I do in this situation?” This is the trait of a great story teller.
It is difficult to develop character in a short story, but the author does a great job of not just introducing us to James, but helping the reader get to know a little bit about him and start to like him. He also provides some prophetic statements early on that alert the reader to internal conflict that will occur with James. “A mouse in a wheel,” James says when he is on the treadmill. No control over his life or his direction, just doing what is in front of him, what is required, performing as he is supposed. His life is under the control of others. Each scene leads to the next, each phrase beautifully placed to bring the reader into James’ life and his situation. This story will keep you engaged and mesmerized till the end and leave you wanting more.