Author: Holly Seddon
Narrator: Elizabeth Knowelden, Katharine McEwan
Published: February 2016, Random House Audio / Ballantine Books
Length: 11 Hours 22 minutes / ARC E-copy 369 pages
Source: Personal copy via Audible / Netgalley
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.
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 unconscious after a merciless assault. Amy Stevenson, who has been in a coma for fifteen years, forgotten by the world. Amy Stevenson, 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 her attempt to uncover 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.
My thoughts: This was a brilliant debut that is an interesting combination of psychological thriller and who-dun-it. It is more character-driven than action-driven, yet it will still keep you on the edge of your seat as you try to figure out what is going on and what is to come as the pieces start to fall into place and the truth becomes clear.
When a story grabs you from the beginning, you know you're in for a good ride and that's what this is. I was immediately pulled in, wanting to know so many things right away. Who was this woman that Alex felt she needed to fight for and get justice for? Who was the man that secretly visits Amy, who's been in a coma for 15 years? And how much is Alex's alcoholic state going to impede her ability to investigate this crime?
I loved the way this story is told...it's slowly fed to us, almost like an IV drip. We get bits and pieces fed to us, as the different story lines are going on. It alternates between the past and the present, weaving together a story that you cannot stop thinking about long after you finish reading the book. It is filled with flawed, complex characters that you want to see find redemption for themselves in some way. And along the way, you can't help but hold your breath a time or two.
This was a great mystery with equal parts suspense and psychological thriller to balance it out. A few times I thought I had figured out who Amy's attacker who, only to find I had been misled and needed to reformulate my guess. It certainly made for an intense read and I cannot wait to see what comes next from this author!
Audio thoughts: Both of these narrators were new to me but I enjoyed listening to them. I thought they did a great job with this audio production...the pacing and voices were just right. I will certainly be checking out what else they have narrated.