Friday, 8 January 2016

Book Review - Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon

Amazon UK
Title: Try Not to Breathe
Author: Holly Seddon
Format reviewed: Hardback
Source: Publisher supplied review copy
Publisher: Corvus Books
Publication Date: 7th January 2016
Rating: 4.5 Stars

You won't be able to put it down.
Just remember to breathe. 

Alex is sinking. Slowly but surely, she's cut herself off from everything but her one true love - drink. Until she's forced to write a piece about a coma ward, where she meets Amy.

Amy is lost. When she was fifteen, she was attacked and left for dead in a park. Her attacker was never found. Since then, she has drifted in a lonely, timeless place. She's as good as dead, but not even her doctors are sure how much she understands.

Alex and Amy grew up in the same suburbs, played the same music, flirted with the same boys. And as Alex begins to investigate the attack, she opens the door to the same danger that has left Amy in a coma...

What a cleverly crafted book, told from various perspectives, over a 15 year period. I wasn't completely shocked out the outcome, it had crossed my mind about who the attacker was, but I had also though it could have been a few other suspects too. 

Alex is just about a functional alcoholic, who works in the mornings, and then drinks for the rest of the day. She is also a freelance journalist researching a story about coma patients, and whether they can understand anything in their state. It's in the hospital she comes across Amy. 

Amy was only fifteen when she was attacked and left for dead, and is now not exactly in a coma, and can breathe for herself, but isn't awake, nor able to communicate in ways that would be familiar to you or me. Her brain though is definitely still active, and we get chapters from her point of view, from the lead up to the attack, right through to the present day, where she is clearly aware of her visitors, even if she thinks she is still fifteen. 

Then there is Jake, the other main player in this story, and other main focus, he was Amy's boyfriend at the time of the attack, and it changed him. He is now married and has a baby on the way, and yet is hiding a secret from his wife. 

Alex decides that she wants to write a story about Amy, having recognised her from all the newspaper coverage at the time, as her attacker was never found. Over time, Alex regularly visits Amy, and its through these visits that Alex, starts to gain some inner strength.

I found Try Not to Breath to be pretty suspenseful, and once I was in the rhythm of the book, I was finding it harder to put it down., to the extent that it was the early hours of the morning when I finished it, and I didn't notice the time. 

However this is being billed as a psychological thriller and from my experience of them, and my understanding of the genre, that doesn't feel quite right to me. I didn't get a sense of danger, or even urgency, just a mystery that needed solving, and some tough issues to be tackled. 

I found the way Amy was portrayed, and her condition to be fascinating. I was unsure with the first few chapters from her perspective whether it would work, but you do get a real sense of a girl who is trying to communicate and no longer can. 

I thought Try Not to Breathe is a fabulous first novel for Holly Seddon, and  I would love to see what she writes next. 

Thank you to Corvus Book for this review copy. This is my honest review. 

1 comment:

  1. I just got an Amazon alert for this - and then I happened on you review, Rachel. I'm tempted. I like the coma aspect. Thanks for sharing! :) xx


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