My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Try Not to Breathe is Holly Seddon’s debut novel. A really good psychological suspense novel that pulled me in right from the start.
Alex Dale is a young journalist whose focus is mostly on trying to maintain her alcoholism. She rides the line between serious drinker and functioning alcoholic. After losing her job and her husband she’s barely hanging on.
Then Alex comes across Amy Stevenson….
While writing an article about a doctor who is researching brain scans showing signs of communication from patients in a vegetative state, Alex visits a hospital ward where these patients live. Among these patients is Amy Stevenson. Amy has been in a coma since 1995 after being brutally attacked. However, although it appears Amy is lost to the world she is still there, locked inside her body, and reliving the past.
***Although I always try my best there may be minor spoilers***
Alex feels a strange connection to Amy as she is similar in age and remembers when the horrific crime happened. She becomes obsessed with wanting to find out what happened to Amy and tell her story.
The story is told from multiple points of view. The majority is Alex’s view in the present. There is also Amy in dream like flashbacks from 1995 on, and a few other characters past and present. The story flowed fairly well. However, there were a couple of times mid chapter where something would switch and it would take me a moment to catch up to what happened.
I thought the plot was quite original especially how Alex’s alcoholism was portrayed. Her routine and rules of how to drink and when to drink etc. really showed the nitty gritty of what it’s like to have an almost all encompassing addiction to alcohol. All of the characters were very well developed. I especially thought Alex and Amy’s characters were well-written and completely believable.
“Some secrets never die. They’re just locked away.”
Even though I had some idea of who Amy’s attacker was I wasn’t dead on. Actually I think even if I had figured out who it was it wouldn’t have dampened my interest in the book as there was so much more involved.
The author indicated that she took artistic license when dealing with Amy’s condition. However, it felt as though she must have done quite a bit of research as descriptions of the neurological disability unit of the hospital and the patients felt very realistic. So although this book is fiction, I thought many of the descriptions and situations came across as very believable.
All in all this was a really good debut novel and I look forward to reading more from Holly Seddon.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.