Book Review: Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon

February 7, 2016 Book review 13 ★★★★

Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon felt more like Try Not to Race Through This in One Sitting!  It was an absorbing page-turner that took all my attention until I had turned the last page and uncovered all its mysteries.

Book Review: Try Not to Breathe by Holly SeddonTry Not to Breathe: A Novel by Holly Seddon
Published by Ballantine Books on February 16th 2016
Genres: Crime, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
Buy on Amazon

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.

ARC REVIEW CRIME Mystery Page-Turner Well Written

First Line of Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon:

“Music thudded through Amy’s body and seized her heart.”

My Thoughts on Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon:

I thoroughly enjoyed this one.  I’m a huge fan of domestic noir style thrillers and this is one of the best ones I’ve read lately.

There are two points of view:

  • Amy who was attacked as a teenager in the 1990s and who has been in sleep coma since and
  • Alex who is a journalist.  Alex’s life is on a downward spiral and she just about holds herself together every morning to run and to work and then come the afternoon she opens a bottle and drinks the rest of the day away.

Alex comes across Amy in the hospital and as she is the same age, she remembers the story well.  She feels a connection to Amy, smells a story and decides to investigate this cold case to see if she can crack the case of just who attached Amy all those years ago.

There is a huge difference between two women but also some similarities.  Both have lost control of their lives.  Amy’s body seeks refuge in sleep and Alex seeks hers at the end of the bottle.  The more Alex investigates, the more purpose her own life gains and while there are no miracle cures, she is slowly able to inject some direction into her own life.

It’s an emotional book seeing how both women struggle.  And it’s also fascinating to try to solve the mystery along with Alex.  I had a few guesses and while I was looking in the right direction, it wasn’t the right guess.  We do get a lot of hints but there are also some red herrings so the perpetrator remains elusive.

“Amy knew he would have to stay a secret, and a short-lived one at that.  A comma in her story, nothing more.”

I love books that keep me guessing and this one did just that.  I also loved the different timelines and the flashbacks to the 1990s as I’m so familiar with that era.

I do feel the book will be compared a lot to The Girl on the Train as both feature a separated female alcoholic main character who is trying to solve a mystery and who is still in love with her ex.  And those comparisons kept cropping in to my mind as I read so it doesn’t feel wholly original.  The plot here is very different though and it does stand on it’s own two feet.

“Time is not a good healer.  Time is blank page on which the left behind scribble their regrets and their confessions.”

Overall this one has a dark plot that is well written and well paced.  Both characters have a warmth and a vulnerability to them that just drew me in.  Neither are without their flaws but they have a shine of authenticity of them.   And I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough!


Rating Report
Did I feel it?
Overall: four-stars


Who should read Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon?

I’d recommend this to you if you like domestic physiological thrillers that keep you guessing.  Fans of Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train and The Husbands Secret should also enjoy this one.


Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.


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13 Responses to “Book Review: Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon”

    • trish

      Both are so good Dawn. I think I did prefer The Girl on the Train but this is well worth the read too. Apologies I seem to keep adding to your to-be-read! 😀

    • trish

      Yay, I’m strongly recommending it to those that like well developed characters and a healthy dose of suspense in their reading diet!

    • trish

      I know, you really feel for Amy, especially as her pov is from her teenage years and she is just so vulnerable. Plus you know what a mess this has made of her whole life, so it’s a heartbreaking plotline.

    • trish

      I’m glad you felt that during the review Brandee, as I really felt swept up in their lives as I read. It’s a sad, gritty and heartfelt read and I loved how it kept me guessing.

    • trish

      It did feel genuine Kim and it also felt like a story behind a newspaper headline. It was sad and gritty and real. Looking forward to your review 🙂

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