Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine Books
Publication Date: February 16, 2016
Date Read: February 4, 2016
For fans of Gillian Flynn, Laura Lippman, and Paula Hawkins comes Holly Seddon's arresting fiction debut—an engrossing thriller full of page-turning twists and turns, richly imagined characters, and gripping psychological suspense.I liked this one a lot. The story kept me very interested and I really had a hard time putting it down at times. I am not always a fan of multiple points of view but I think that it worked wonderfully in this book. As the book unfolded, I wasn't quite sure where things were going. I had a couple of guesses about who was responsible for what happened to Amy but I wasn't quite sure until it came out in the story. I do love it when I can't figure out which way a mystery is going.
Some secrets never die. They're just locked away.
Alex Dale is lost. Destructive habits have cost her a marriage and a journalism career. All she has left is her routine: a morning run until her body aches, then a few hours of forgettable work before the past grabs hold and drags her down. Every day is treading water, every night is drowning. Until Alex discovers Amy Stevenson. Amy Stevenson, who was just another girl from a nearby town until the day she was found after a merciless assault. Amy Stevenson, who has been in a coma for fifteen years, forgotten by the world. Who, unbeknownst to her doctors, remains locked inside her body, conscious but paralyzed, reliving the past.
Soon Alex's routine includes visiting hours at the hospital, then interviews with the original suspects in the attack. But what starts as a reporter's story becomes a personal obsession. How do you solve a crime when the only witness lived, but cannot tell the tale? Unable to tear herself away from uncovering the unspeakable truth, Alex realizes she's not just chasing a story—she's seeking salvation.
Shifting from present to past and back again, Try Not to Breathe unfolds layer by layer until its heart-stopping conclusion. The result is an utterly immersive, unforgettable debut.
The characters in this book were somewhat unique. Alex is a writer and is trying to get a story published. Alex is also an alcoholic who uses many different techniques for controlling her drinking. She is barely functioning as a result of her alcoholism and has lost many things as a result including her marriage. When she happens upon Amy in the hospital while working on a story, she feels compelled to find out what happened to her all those years ago. I thought that Alex's alcoholism added an interesting side to the story and I did think that it was well done. Her life is anything but glamorous and her thoughts really showed how much she struggles every day.
Jacob was Amy's boyfriend at the time of her disappearance. He is now married and his wife, Fiona, is due to have their first child very soon. He has never really moved past what happened to Amy and spends a lot of time visiting her in the hospital. I felt poorly for Jacob for much of the story. He really seemed to have a lot of guilt over Amy and it has had a big impact on his life.
Amy is in what is considered a vegetative state by many but she does have some awareness. Amy has been in this condition ever since she disappeared back in 1995. Nobody knows what really happened to Amy and nobody has been punished for the crimes committed against her. I found the parts of the book that were from Amy's perspective to be the most powerful. As soon as Amy's point of view started showing up in story, I really had a hard time putting this book down. Both her awareness of things going on now and her memory of the past were incredibly well done.
I thought everything came together to tell a really interesting story. I wanted to know what happened to Amy just as much as Alex and Jacob did. I thought the book shared new information at exactly the perfect moments to really keep my interest level high. As each new piece of information was learned, I found myself being pulled deeper into the story. The pacing of the well done and nicely balance with the development of the characters.
I would recommend this book to others. I think mystery fans who like flawed and interesting characters will enjoy this one. I am somewhat amazed by the fact that this is Holly Seddon's debut novel and I look forward to reading future works by this talented author.
I received an advance reader edition of this book from Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine via NetGalley for the purpose of providing an honest review.
About the Author
Holly Seddon was born and raised in the southwest of England and now lives in the Kent countryside with her husband and four children. Throughout her fifteen-year career, Seddon has been privileged to work in some of the UK’s most exciting newsrooms. As a freelance writer, she has been published on national newspaper websites, leading consumer websites, and in magazines. Seddon has been writing short stories since childhood. Try Not to Breathe is her first novel.
Photo: © James Seddon