Friday, March 18, 2016

Review: Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon


For fans of Lianne Moriarty, Paula Hawkins, and Tana French, an arresting debut novel of psychological suspense: a young journalist struggles to keep the demons of her alcoholism at bay as she finds her purpose again in tackling the mystery of a shocking headline-making crime, still unsolved after fifteen years.

Amy Stevenson was the biggest news story of 1995. Only fifteen years old, Amy disappeared walking home from school one day and was found in a coma three days later. Her attacker was never identified and her angelic face was plastered across every paper and nightly news segment.

Fifteen years later, Amy lies in the hospital, surrounded by 90’s Britpop posters, forgotten by the world until reporter Alex Dale stumbles across her while researching a routine story on vegetative patients.

Remembering Amy’s story like it was yesterday, she feels compelled to solve the long-cold case.

The only problem is, Alex is just as lost as Amy—her alcoholism has cost her everything including her marriage and her professional reputation.

In the hopes that finding Amy’s attacker will be her own salvation as well, Alex embarks on a dangerous investigation, suspecting someone close to Amy.

Told in the present by an increasingly fragile Alex and in dream-like flashbacks by Amy as she floats in a fog of memories, dreams, and music from 1995, Try Not to Breathe unfolds layer by layer to a breathtaking conclusion

Publication Date: February 23, 2016

Wow, this book was totally different than anything I read before! Talk about two unreliable narrators: an alcoholic reporter and a coma patient. The story is told in two different timelines: fifteen years earlier leading up to Amy’s attack and the present as Alex tries to give Amy a voice while coping with her own major issues.

Alex was a hard character to like at first, but the author wrote her in such a way that I couldn’t help, but feel sympathy for her. As more of her tragic back-story is revealed, I did find myself rooting for her to get help and start to rebuild her life. When she starts to visit Amy in the hospital, the comatose woman has a profound effect on her.

The book was more than just a mystery of who attacked Amy. I also found the topic of what type of awareness coma patients may have and how brain scans could be used to measure their responses. The author admits to taking artistic license regarding Amy’s condition, but I still found the possibilities intriguing.

My one major qualm is that I wasn’t totally thrilled with the big reveal regarding Amy’s attacker. It’s hard to explain why without posting spoilers, but the revelations just didn’t pack enough emotional punch.

The pace was spot on and the writing crisp. This is definitely one of the strongest debuts I’ve read thus far this year. Can’t wait to check out more from this amazing author!

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Thanks to the publisher for a copy of the novel for review!


  1. Missed your reviews! What an excellent way to pop back in. :) Sorry the revelations didn't hit the mark, but glad you enjoyed the novel :) WRITE ON!

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