Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Try Not to Breathe

Rate this book
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.

368 pages, Hardcover

First published February 23, 2016

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Holly Seddon

12 books711 followers
Holly Seddon is the international bestselling author of TRY NOT TO BREATHE, DON'T CLOSE YOUR EYES, LOVE WILL TEAR US APART, THE HIT LIST and THE WOMAN ON THE BRIDGE.

After growing up in the English countryside obsessed with music and books, Holly worked in London as a journalist and editor. She now lives in Kent with her family and writes full time.

Alongside fellow author Gillian McAllister, Holly co-hosts the popular Honest Authors Podcast. You can find her on Twitter @hollyseddon, Instagram and Facebook @hollyseddonauthor.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
4,832 (27%)
4 stars
7,465 (42%)
3 stars
4,032 (23%)
2 stars
822 (4%)
1 star
222 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,891 reviews
Profile Image for Deanna .
647 reviews12.4k followers
January 17, 2016
Try Not to Breathe is Holly Seddon's debut novel. A really good psychological suspense novel that pulled me in right from the start.

***Although I always try my best there may be minor spoilers***

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.

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. Although the majority is Alex in the present, there is 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. This happened a few times and it wasn't terrible, it just would catch me off guard until I caught up again.

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.
Profile Image for Chelsea *Slowly Catching Up* Humphrey.
1,388 reviews77.2k followers
December 24, 2015
I'd like to thank Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest and fair review.

Well, I'm a bit disappointed as all the hype around this book had me expecting more. I should have learned by now that hype tends to destroy reads for me.

Things I liked: many aspects of the plot were very unique and intriguing. I found the idea of a victim of a horrific crime left in a "vegetative state" interesting and a strong theme to build an excellent thriller on. Also, the research of the symptoms of various illnesses mentioned in the story (alcoholism, Alzheimer's, etc) was very thorough and horrifying.

Things I did not like: Alex was a very unlikable and unrealistic character to me. Honestly, most of the characters were very shallow and unbelievable. I also figured out the "big twist" at about 20% into the book. I guess the big twist for me was "HAH! You really did figure it out early! Surprise!"


My main problems were with the character of Simon and the resolution of the book. We know nothing of his character really which is what caused me to assume him as the culprit from the first mention of his name. He's not even really present at all in the story. Also, why did Jacob keep his visits with Amy a secret from his wife????


Overall, I was disappointed in the fact that I had everything figured out early on. I was under the assumption there would be some major twist at the end, as this book was compared to Gone Girl and TGOTT. However, it was clever and interesting enough to keep me turning the pages, mainly due to Alex's alcoholism, so I thought that merited the bump up to a 3 star read.
Profile Image for Gary.
2,548 reviews356 followers
September 25, 2015
Loved this book from start to finish.
This psychological thriller is about a journalist, Alex Dale who when visiting a hospital notices a face from the past. A young girl, Amy Stevenson was attacked 15 years ago and the crime was never solved is lying in a hospital bed, the journalist feels a compulsion to seek out the truth. The book shifts from present to past as the story and the truth unfold. Well paced and strong believable characters that had me reading it at every opportunity. An excellent book in the same league as 'Girl on a train' and 'Gone Girl' and I can't believe this is a debut novel.
I would like to thank Net Galley and Random House for giving me a copy of this novel in exchange for a honest review.
Profile Image for Sue.
1,315 reviews5 followers
October 14, 2016
TRY NOT TO BREATHE the debut novel of British author Holly Seddon, is an outstanding psychological tale of suspense. It is really hard to believe that this is a debut novel, as it is so good. I am sorry I took so long to read this novel, but I recently had eye surgery and was restricted with my activity. This character-driven novel involves the reader right from the beginning…the story of two women that connect and become friends.

The first woman, Amy Stevenson, is a hospital patient in a vegetative state. Fifteen years ago in 1995 when she was only fifteen years old, she made a poor choice, which changed her whole life. She had a boyfriend, Jake but craved more excitement! On her way home from school, she went with a man who had sex with her, attacked her, and left her for dead. Her attacker was never identified and her face was splashed across every paper and nightly news program.

Now Amy is in a vegetative state, trapped in her own body but unable to communicate. She remains in a confusing state, still thinking she is fifteen, unaware that time has moved on. She doesn’t realize that she is now thirty years old.

The second woman, Alex Dale, a reporter, staggers across her while researching a routine story on vegetative patients.

And then Alex saw a patient in a bed. She knew this woman-Amy. She had to help solve this case!

But both women have their problems. Alex is a functioning alcoholic that had cost her both her reputation and her marriage. Alex’s ex-husband, Matt, is a police officer, and has moved on and remarried and has a baby on the way.

Alex begins a dangerous investigation, suspecting someone close to Amy.

The novel is set in Kent, England, and this story is written in two time periods. The present versus flashbacks to the time of Amy’s attack. This was a very enjoyable read, and I recommend it to all my Goodread friends. So hard to believe that this is a debut novel!

I’m looking forward to Holly Seddon’s next novel!

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Profile Image for Christine .
568 reviews1,069 followers
January 27, 2016
I wish to thank Holly Seddon, Net Galley and Ballantine Books for an advanced copy of Try Not to Breathe in exchange for an unbiased review.

Try Not to Breathe, the debut novel of British author Holly Seddon, is an excellent psychological tale of suspense. It follows the story of Alex Dale, a disgraced journalist who is struggling to regain not only her respectability, but also her life, which she essentially lost to the ravages of the bottle. Alex is working on a freelance investigative article looking into the story of Amy Stevenson, a young woman left in an apparent vegetative state after being attacked and raped in 1995. The novel takes place over a 15-year time frame. The POV alternates amongst several voices as the timeline flips back and forth between the present and various periods in the previous decade and a half (not confusing to the reader). Alex struggles with her addiction to alcohol and her self-shame as she strives to bring some closure to Amy’s ordeal and simultaneously some meaning to her own life, by finding out what really happened the night Amy was abducted.

Looking at some of the previous reviews, it appears some readers did not care for Alex. Though she is certainly flawed, I liked her. I think what drew me to her was her determination to salvage whatever she could from her shambled life. Despite others giving up on her, she was not going to give up on herself. I do wish there had been a bit more back history that would have helped explain how she fell so low. I also cared a great deal for Jacob, Amy’s high school sweetheart, though some of his decision-making was frustratingly questionable.

The story grabbed me right away and the ongoing suspense led me to turn the pages quickly. The plotline is fairly complex and I was making mental notes of all the curious “maybe clues” that came on a regular basis. I have to say I was a little disappointed when the identity of the baddie was revealed. I cannot say why, however, without spoilers. On the other hand, I was very pleased with the rest of the ending. It was not “Hollywood”, but more like what would happen in the real world.

Overall, I was very entertained by Try Not to Breathe. I read it faster than most books I read, which is always a good sign. I recommend this tale to all lovers of mystery and suspense. I will definitely be looking out for Ms. Seddon’s next book, which I hope will arrive sooner rather than later.
Profile Image for Jan.
423 reviews248 followers
February 16, 2016

I would never have guessed this was a debut book for author Holly Seddon...I'm super impressed!

Well thought-out and engaging characters along with a storyline that was fast paced and compelling.

More of a who-dunnit than a psychological thriller, but this still kept me on the edge of my seat and guessing along the way.
I thought I had the antagonist figured out early on, then oops-I realized I was wrong and settled on my next suspect.
That carried me for a bit until I switched gears and decided someone else had to be the bad guy...and in the end I was completely wrong on all counts...
I absolutely LOVE when that happens!!!

No additional plot summary needed here-if the synopsis listed isn't enough to grab your attention hopefully this review will. (Ignore the reference to Gillian Flynn)
An enjoyable read and I highly recommend to anyone who loves a good mystery with strong characters.
I will most definitely be looking for more from this author.

My thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,847 reviews34.9k followers
January 4, 2016
Amy is still alive - with a paralyze body - in a hospital bed - fifteen years later.
As readers, we have questions about this. For fifteen years a boyfriend - Jacob continues to visit her. A little odd??? ( even 'if' he feels love or guilt). Fifteen years is a long time - when you are only a teenage boy from the start.

Alex has experienced more loss in her life than she can handle -and is a heavy daily drinker. At one time she had a successful career as a journalist ....
but now seems closer to killing herself. A doctor told her there was a good chance she would be dead in a year with the amount of alcohol she drinks each day.
In 'trying to take steps in cleaning up her life, Alex begins freelance work as a reporter. She is writing a paper about a neurologist who is making advances with patients who are in a coma in being able to communicate with them. This part of the
story was fascinating to me in itself---( besides who attacked Amy and put her in this condition).
I've always been curious about how much 'coma' patients hear -think- and comprehend about themselves - past & present. If they wake up -- does memory get loss in the awakening transition?
When Alex discovers Amy is one of the patients...she immediately remembers the story about the tragic unsolved crime mystery fifteen years prior. She wants to solve the mystery and bring closure to Amy!

The story goes back and forth in time. The three main characters, Alex, Amy, and Jacob alternate in narrating. Amy never seems to age... (seems to always be 15 years old since the day of this crime against her... even though she is now 30 years of age)..... but it makes sense. It's realistic. Her character feels despondent and gloomy.... yet there is a quiet sweetness to her too.

Alex is an interesting character ...she has so many things she is up against -
She's been shattered once too many times. She pulls her boot straps up -- then they fall down again. We're hoping that she doesn't lose fight ...as we would love to see Alex recover from so her past wounds...as we kinda fall in love with her -flaws and all.

Good story! Did I figure out 'who' Dunn-It? ....I was pretty sure, but not completely ....
I was definitely doing my guessing!

Thank You Random House, Netgalley and Holly Seddon!

Profile Image for j e w e l s.
306 reviews2,327 followers
February 12, 2018
Holly Seddon came up with a great story idea: A news reporter investigates the story of a young woman named Amy she has stumbled upon in a convalescent home. Amy has been in a coma for many years due to a violent act she endured at the age of 15. The person responsible for this crime has never been apprehended and the reporter embarks on a dangerous mission to expose the perp.

The reporter, Alex Dale is a drunken, hot mess of a main character in TRY NOT TO BREATHE. This is my second novel to read by Seddon and I am very impressed with the sharply drawn characters she uses to great effect. Our girl, Alex, goes on a journey to help Amy and in turn helps herself. I liked Alex and couldn't help but root for her.

It's no secret that I love psychological suspense novels and I love them set in London even more. I hate to give only 3 stars to this otherwise fine novel. But, I figured out who the attacker was very early on in the story and I have such a hard time maintaining my interest after that happens! Not ready to give up on Seddon, I will eagerly read her next book.
Profile Image for Zoeytron.
1,016 reviews652 followers
November 7, 2015
For fifteen years Amy has lain comatose as a result of a horrific beating, the case never solved. Jake was Amy's boyfriend at the time of the attack. Riddled with guilt and loss, he has had a great deal of difficulty moving forward with his life. Alex is a washed up journalist who is slowly and methodically killing herself with booze. She seizes upon this cold case and begins the slow climb from rock bottom, vowing to find out who is responsible for the crime. The line between consciousness and death is sometimes a nebulous thing, this storyline does some exploring there. This is a mystery that will keep you guessing.

Thank you to Net Galley for furnishing a copy of this ARC for review.
Profile Image for ReadAlongWithSue .
2,634 reviews170 followers
December 4, 2019
This is so hard to believe this was this authors first debut psychological thriller. It matches any top authors who write in this genre.

This was so astounding I kept reading or listening throughout the day. I was totally hooked throughout.

The story and plot thickens with each chapter you read. Characters are so well developed you get to know them almost instantly.

There’s a lot of reviews going into parts of this story I’ll only be repeating them so I’ve chosen to say how this made me feel instead.

Emotionally and physically connected.
Eager to turn pages

Sad when it was finished, because I loved it so much.
Profile Image for Lo Bookfrantic.
760 reviews563 followers
August 11, 2017

4.5 ★★★★"Killer Secret" Stars

Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Type: Standalone
POV: First Person – Shifting
Publication Date: February 23rd, 2016

“I played tennis again. I played tennis and I won.”


This was definitely one of those books where you open it and you just can't put it down...you try to sleep but you can't stop thinking about what is going to happen next, You try to guess who the bloody killer is and finally you reached the end and you can breathe again without even realizing you were holding your breath the entire time. At the beginning it was a bit slow start for me with so many characters POV to keep track of; however soon I got to know each character and I wanted more of them.

We meet Amy Stephenson who at only 15 years old had a secret and that secret will hunt the entire world. She left school one day and never made it home. Now 15 years later she finds herself in a hospital and with no recollection of what had happened in past. Her mind is still of a 15yr old inside a body of a 30yrs old in a bed with no ability to speak of feel or move. However; in her head she is still in high school with her boyfriend Jake and her best friends Jenny and Becky and there are still signs of movements in her brain.


Alex Dale; a thirty year old female journalist who was dealing with life crisis. She lost her mother, her child, her job and lastly; her husband left her due to her alcohol addiction. Alex was writing a profile piece for a weekend supplement on the work of Dr. Haynes, a scientist researching brain scans that picked up signs of communication in patients. She came across Amy while at the hospital interviewing Dr. Haynes and took a deeply interest in her case and she just wanted to know more about her.
“Once we establish a number of different parts of the brain and how to generate a response in those, we can start to ask question and…”


Jacob aka Jake who was Amy's boyfriend fifteen years ago; was struggling with the past and with his wife and soon to be child. He wanted a happy life but keeping things from his wife Fiaona was almost causing him his marriage. However; he meets Alex and he knew it was a dangerous line considering his marriage was on the line but he wanted to help Alex find answers to what really happened to Amy. He joined the journey with Alex to finding answers as to what happened to Amy and try to get to the bottom of it.


Alex developed an obsession to figure this case out and she didn’t stop until she got to the bottom of it. However her addiction was going to be the end of her; she was struggling with the alcohol addiction that will kill her in a year if she didn’t stop. This book had me intrigued and I was deeply interested not only because I wanted the mystery of the killer to be solved but I was also very intrigued on Amy’s brain case I found myself thinking what if that was me or someone I knew of laying on that bed for so long?!. Alex felt the same and while she got to the bottom and ended up cracking the case which was a total mind fuck she ended up finding herself as well because of Amy. I love this story so much, it was much more than what I expected.

There were many suspects, so many questions; the events that happened had me biting my nails. I wanted answers like Alex and Jacob; everyone seems a suspect and it was a nerve wrecking thrilling ride. This book is one I will recommend to all thriller readers. If you are looking for a good mystery/thriller you have found it. Any fans of Cold case files TV will really enjoy this book. This is a new author for me and I can tell you, I love this writing style and I will be reading more of this writer in the future.


Book Order Series:
Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon


For more reviews/reveals/giveaways visit:

Profile Image for Suz.
1,046 reviews532 followers
September 16, 2017
Such an original premise. A young girl is attacked and ends up in a coma. A woman is increasingly falling apart becomes obsessed with the case. They were the same age, the case so highly known at the time. Amy was only 15 when attacked and Alex, 15 years later tries her best to work out what happened all those years ago. Alex is in such a mess of her own, a failed marriage and a terrible alcohol addiction. Can she even maintain focus for a day to work out what went wrong? The internal dialogue of a patient in a coma, trapped, was heartbreaking. I found this very interesting being privy to the confusion and internal dialogue of someone trapped but still able to hear what is going on around her. I am increasingly falling behind in my reviews and reviewing after the event is not working for me! Good book, my first read through overdrive though my browser.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,367 reviews9,433 followers
February 27, 2016
MY BLOGS: Melissa Martin's Reading List

I cried at the end of this book, but it was a good cry. It was a somewhat happy ending....


I can't believe this is the author's debut novel. I loved it so much and it really touched me. Sometimes (or a lot of times) when we are young, we do some really stupid things. Amy did a stupid thing, but she didn't deserve what happened to her.

This book tells different points of view. You have Alex, Jacob, Amy, and a little bit from Sue.

Alex is was a journalist with a happy marriage to Matt, but she drank everything away. Now she is working on her drinking (somewhat) and working on something with patient's in coma's.


"How terrible to have no voice," said Alex, as she took scribbled notes and swayed, nauseated, amongst the electric hum of the hospital ward.
Alex was writing a profile piece for a weekend supplement on the work of Dr. Haynes, the elusive scientist researching brain scans that picked up signs of communication in patients like these. She hadn't met the doctor yet and was skidding toward her deadline. A far cry from her best work.

This is where she finds Amy Stevenson who has been in a coma for 15 years! Amy can breathe on her own and can do some little tests the doctor has worked on with the patients showing they can communicate. It's very sad. We get to read about Amy's story and then at some point Amy takes over and starts talking in her mind. It's really brilliant.

Alex gets obsessed with trying to find out what happened to Amy all of those years ago. Her ex-husband Matt helps her a little bit. She tracks down some people from Amy's childhood and even talks to Amy's stepdad and biological father. She also teams up with Jacob. They had a rocky start at first but then Alex explained everything she was trying to do and Jacob wanted to help. You see.. Jacob, was Amy's boyfriend at the time she was attacked and left for dead all of those years ago. He now has a wife Fiona (can't stand her) and a baby about to pop out.

I love all of the ins and outs of this book. I loved going on the hunt with Alex and I'm very proud of her for battling her demons and tracking down a killer/rapist. I love that she kept going to see Amy after it was all said and done, she would talk with Amy, listen to music with her and treat her like she could really hear her, which she could!

Oh Amy, baby girl, please come back to the real world. Stuck in a fifteen-year-old brain and a thirty-year-old body. I just love her.


I thought this book sounded good when I read the blurb, but I had no idea I would fall in love with it. This will be one I re-read many times.

**I would like to thank Random House Publishing for a print copy of this wonderful book in exchange for my honest review.**
May 11, 2021
Biraz polisiye kayıyordu ama çok güzeldi. Keşke daha az ayrıntı verilmiş olsaydı. Bu kadar sayfa bu kitap için biraz fazla olmuş. Yine de beklentilerimin üstüne çıktı. Artık bu tarz kitaplar bana gereğinden fazla dokunmaya başladı çünkü çevremizde çok fazla habere tanık oluyoruz. Kurgu olarak gördüklerimiz bile korkutuyor insanı.
Profile Image for Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews.
1,864 reviews261 followers
February 5, 2017
As far as psychological thrillers go, this is the best I have read for some time. Try Not to Breathe comes from debut author Holly Seddon. The inspiration for this gripping tale came to Seddon while she was listening to a radio show discuss patients in vegetative states. Amy Stevenson, the main character who is in a coma for the bulk of Try Not to Breathe, formed in Seddon’s mind after listening to this show. Seddon has also conducted extensive research through the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability to inform her first novel.

Try Not to Breathe is a book told in shifting time frames, moving from 1995 to 2010. It is also a narrative that shifts perspectives between the main players in the novel. In 1995, Amy Stevenson is fifteen years old and has her whole life ahead of her. Despite this, she is focussed on one thing, losing her virginity. Instead of waiting to lose her virginity to her patient and gentle long term boyfriend Jake, she makes the fatal decision to go with an older man. This older male figure has his way with her and then brutally attacks her, leaving Amy for dead. Amy somehow manages to survive the attack, but it leaves her in catatonic state and some 15 years later, Amy is still in a coma. Although Amy has limited brain activity, it seems she is somewhat aware of her surroundings. In 2010, Alex Dale enters the hospital where Amy has resided since her attack. Alex is a disgraced journalist, having once held a high ranking position at The Times. Now a freelance journalist, after battling the bottle, Alex has lost everything that she held dear. Alone and searching for a defining story to resurrect her career, Alex feels compelled to reinvestigate Amy’s case. Together with Amy’s high school boyfriend Jacob, who has never really let his old girlfriend go, the two work together to get to the bottom of who attacked Amy, as a perpetrator has never been arrested.

Try Not to Breathe is a book that falls into the category where it draws comparisons to Gone Girl. I have to agree with the cover quote from bestselling author Tess Gerritsen that ‘Not since The Girl on the Train have I been so captivated’. This book is a fantastic debut novel, the subject matter was definitely different and compelling. It was fascinating to read a fiction novel based around the research into those suffering from neuro disability. Through Amy’s story, I was able to glean information about the limits, as well as the abilities of these patients.

Part of my strong connection to this book lies in the time frame, setting and the characters. I too was a teenage girl in 1995, just like Amy, living in a similar region. I grew up appreciating the same music and fashion as Amy. I could understand the focus on losing your virginity at that age and the inevitable competitions, as well as school gossip that arose around this subject. This enabled me to feel a deep connection to Amy, allowing me to easily put myself in her place in 1995. It lead me to question – would I have made the same decision as Amy?

The shifting style of narration of this book, definitely adds another dimension to the reading of Try Not to Breathe. The reader is able to get inside the mind of Amy both in 1995 and 2010, as well as Alex and Amy’s boyfriend Jacob. As a result, the characterisation is strong. At many points the book became emotional and heartbreaking. Especially the sections focussed on Amy in 2010, where she knows she is not herself, but she fails to make sense of the state she exists in. However, I did take messages of hope in the book. The unlikely friendship that forms between two lost souls, Amy and Alex, is a shining feature in this novel.

Try Not to Breathe is one of those books that despite the dark subject matter, still compels you to continue to flick the pages, to solve the mystery as to who left Amy in this way. The plotting in the book is methodical, despite Alex, the main investigator, being a flawed character who is struggling to battle her own personal demons throughout the novel. I did have a changeable list of suspects as to who was involved in Amy’s attack, my suspicions though close, were proved wrong. Seddon presents the reader with a cleverly devised plot, that will have you guessing and reeling until the end.

It is very early on in the year, but Try Not to Breathe takes the title so far as the best psychological thriller I have read for some time. A mesmerising thriller, about a young woman attacked in her prime and another young woman redeeming herself, through giving her new found friend the justice she deserves. A worthy five star rating, from an author I am keen to read more from very soon.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,440 reviews29.4k followers
November 27, 2015
I'd rate this 3.5 stars.

Full disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House/Ballantine for making it available!

Here's a question: does anyone else, when they read mysteries, find themselves suspecting everyone, and whenever a new character is introduced you try to determine whether that person is the culprit? I don't believe I'm alone in that behavior, but it's difficult to disengage the "detective" part of my brain!

Holly Seddon's tense debut novel, Try Not to Breathe definitely had me entertaining lots of possibilities in my mind. When Amy Stevenson was 15 years old, she disappeared from home. While the police tried to tell her parents she ran away, they knew that wasn't something Amy would do. And when she was found shortly thereafter, her body severely beaten, no one could figure out what happened and who assaulted her—and Amy, who was in a persistent vegetative state, couldn't tell.

Fifteen years later, Alex Dale, a reporter whose career and personal life had both seen better days, was researching a story on advances being made by a local neurologist, who boasted of some success "communicating" with some patients in a persistent vegetative state. When Alex comes upon Amy in the hospital, she remembers the case that captivated the area for some time, and the turmoil it brought to many whose lives were turned upside down.

Alex is determined to stand up for Amy, to try and find out the truth once and for all. Solving a cold case is never easy, but Alex has an extra burden as she is a barely functioning alcoholic whose life, career, and health have been destroyed by her addiction. But the more Alex digs into the case, interviewing those who were closest to Amy, she knows that there are answers amid the mystery, and it is up to her to try and bring some closure for Amy's sake, while Amy remains conscious but mostly unaware of where she is and what has transpired in her life since the assault. Mostly being the operative word...

I thought this was a really interesting concept for a book, and enjoyed the way Seddon teased out the story despite my best efforts to figure it all out before she was ready to divulge details. Alex's character in particular was really fascinating, and I felt Seddon did a terrific job giving voice to Alex's alcoholic existence and her continued decline despite the regrets she carried with her. While not all of the characters were as fleshed out as I would have liked, Alex drives the story, and she is so appealing (while being so flawed) that I really was invested in her quest. The tension level rises and rises as the plot moves forward, and for the most part, I really liked the direction Seddon took the story in.

For a debut novel, this is a pretty self-assured book. So many mysteries fail as they try too hard; Try Not to Breathe will captivate fans of the genre.

See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....
Profile Image for Lisa.
726 reviews
March 22, 2016
I loved this book from the very first page It got me hooked & i kept turning the pages, Holly Seddon is an accomplished writer with a lot of promise.

This book is set in Kent Amy Stevenson is a young 15 year old girl who has a boyfriend Jake & her best friends Becky & Jenny they have a secret that they are hiding about Amy but wont tell.

Suddenly Amy is attacked in a park & left for dead she ends up in hospital in a comatose state unable to talk about who attacked her then Alex who lives in the same area she is fighting the demons with the bottle but to get herself back together she decides to write a piece on a coma ward where she meets Amy.

Suddenly Alex digs deeper & deeper into her plight & finds out a lot about her stepfather & father they are suspects for a while until Amy's secret is revealed Jake Now Jacob works at the hospital now married to Fiona who is expecting their child does not leave her side, Fiona becomes suspicious & finally Jacob tells her the truth.

This was a really good novel & would read more of Holly Seddon
Profile Image for Larnacouer  de SH.
673 reviews150 followers
October 24, 2016
Neresinden tutarsam elimde kalacak, en basit haliyle aktarıyorum:

Alkol sebebi ile ayrılan bir çift:
Adam yeni yuva kurmuş, çocuk bekliyor mutlu mesut.
Bedbaht alkolik kadınsa sürekli eski kocasından medet umuyor, yardım için arayıp duruyor klasik şeyler bidi bidi bidi.

Bİ' YETER ARKADAŞLAR. Zor şeyler atlattıktan sonra güçlü, kendi ayakları üzerinde durabilen kadınları kaleme almak bu kadar zor olmamalı. Madem kadın karakteri kaleme alacaksınız hakkını verin; modası geçti bu özgüvensiz, takıntılı ama ne hikmetse olayın merkezindeki kadın portresinin.
Bu kitabın Trendeki Kız ile karşılaştırılma sebebi bu olmalı.

Nefret ettim okurken. Adam eski karısına, acıdığı için resmen silah zoruyla yardım ediyor kadın "Seni özledim." yapıyor.
Şeytan diyor al meşe sopasını, vur ağzına ağzına. Sini izlidim'miş.

Haricinde gerilimin G'si yok kitapta. Karakterlerde az önce yazdığım gibi inanılmaz antipatik. Arka kapakta adı geçen Amy Stevenson başrol görünümlü bir figüran yalnızca.
Çabuk akıyor, okunabilir bir dili var. Lakin son 50 sayfaya kadar olay beklemeyin.

Bi' merak edilen kitabın kapağını daha hüsranla kapatıyorum, yayında ve yapımda emeği geçenlere teşekkürler. Sgsjkskslsls. Cut.
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,634 reviews448 followers
February 7, 2016
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life

I liked this one a lot. The story kept me very interested and I really had a hard time putting it down at times. I am not always a fan of multiple points of view but I think that it worked wonderfully in this book. As the book unfolded, I wasn't quite sure where things were going. I had a couple of guesses about who was responsible for what happened to Amy but I wasn't quite sure until it came out in the story. I do love it when I can't figure out which way a mystery is going.

The characters in this book were somewhat unique. Alex is a writer and is trying to get a story published. Alex is also an alcoholic who uses many different techniques for controlling her drinking. She is barely functioning as a result of her alcoholism and has lost many things as a result including her marriage. When she happens upon Amy in the hospital while working on a story, she feels compelled to find out what happened to her all those years ago. I thought that Alex's alcoholism added an interesting side to the story and I did think that it was well done. Her life is anything but glamorous and her thoughts really showed how much she struggles every day.

Jacob was Amy's boyfriend at the time of her disappearance. He is now married and his wife, Fiona, is due to have their first child very soon. He has never really moved past what happened to Amy and spends a lot of time visiting her in the hospital. I felt poorly for Jacob for much of the story. He really seemed to have a lot of guilt over Amy and it has had a big impact on his life.

Amy is in what is considered a vegetative state by many but she does have some awareness. Amy has been in this condition ever since she disappeared back in 1995. Nobody knows what really happened to Amy and nobody has been punished for the crimes committed against her. I found the parts of the book that were from Amy's perspective to be the most powerful. As soon as Amy's point of view started showing up in story, I really had a hard time putting this book down. Both her awareness of things going on now and her memory of the past were incredibly well done.

I thought everything came together to tell a really interesting story. I wanted to know what happened to Amy just as much as Alex and Jacob did. I thought the book shared new information at exactly the perfect moments to really keep my interest level high. As each new piece of information was learned, I found myself being pulled deeper into the story. The pacing of the well done and nicely balance with the development of the characters.

I would recommend this book to others. I think mystery fans who like flawed and interesting characters will enjoy this one. I am somewhat amazed by the fact that this is Holly Seddon's debut novel and I look forward to reading future works by this talented author.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine via NetGalley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

Initial Thoughts
I liked this one. The story kept me interested and I actually liked the multiple POVs. For much of the book, I wasn't really sure what direction things were going. Once I had a guess, I had to find out if I was right. I don't know how realistic everything was but it was definitely entertaining.
Profile Image for Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede.
1,910 reviews763 followers
October 10, 2016
Amy Stevenson was attacked 15 years ago and have ever since been in a coma. No one has been caught for the brutal attack. Alex Dale was once a loving wife, a mother to be and a brilliant journalist. Now she has nothing left. But, then she does an interview with a doctor about coma patients and meets Amy. They are close in age and grew up close by, but they never met. Amy remembers the case and the more she investigates about it the more obsesses is she to solve what happened to Amy. But, how to solve a crime when the only witness can't talk?

I was intrigued by the blurb, about a coma patient being the only witness to a crime. Alex Dale is an alcoholic who drank away her marriage and career. She is now trying to put her life together, which isn't that easy and it's especially hard for her to learn that her ex-husband has moved on with his life. So, Amy Stevenson becomes in many ways her lifeline, something to focus on while she tries to sort of her life. We also have Jacob, who is a sitter. He sits by the coma patients and keeps them company talking. But, he seems to have a special connection to Amy.

I had some trouble getting into the story; I found the story a bit trying sometimes. Not so much the storyline with Amy, but with Jacob. I was sometimes quite frustrated with him and his secrets and even though I often found his wife Fiona a bit annoying do I understand her frustration with Jacob. He should have come clean to her years ago.

I found it not that hard to figure out the identity of the attacker. Sure, I was not completely sure, but I had a gut feeling of whom it would be. There were some clues scattered in the book that made me more and more sure during the progress of whom it would be. Still, the confrontation scene towards the end of the book was intense, there is always a possibility that I could be wrong. But, I was right. However, I did enjoy the book, despite having a suspicious feeling about who the attacker was. Sometimes half the fun with a whodunnit book is trying to find out who the attacker is and see if you have the right person at the end.

This may not be the best thriller I have read, but still, it was a good one and I quite liked Alex Dale and wouldn't mind reading more books by the author.

I want to thank the publisher for proving me with a free copy for an honest review.
Profile Image for Julie .
3,990 reviews58.9k followers
March 8, 2016
Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon is a 2016 Ballantine Books publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Often times I roll my eyes at the cliché’s like “stunning debut”, because it’s been applied to so many sub-par books that are attempting to latch onto a popular trend. Currently, the psychological thriller is all the rage, and this book has been likened to the work of Tana French and Paula Hawkins, which is something that is becoming a bit of a pet peeve with me, since comparisons like these give the reader expectations that are not fair, are unrealistic, and paints the new author into a preconceived corner. So, I didn’t jump in with both feet expecting great things from this book, but instead approached it warily.

Thankfully, this book is one of those rare occurrences where the book actually lived up to the hype., but the book stands on its own merits, and doesn’t need to depend on comparisons to the writing styles of others.

One small nitpick thing I feel compelled to point out, is that while the story does have an atmosphere conducive to a psychological thriller, it comes up a little short in that area. The focus is more sharply aimed at solving what basically amounts to a cold case. What makes this one stand out, is the unlikely way the case suddenly finds itself under so much scrutiny, by introducing us to Alex, a journalist, a woman hanging on by a thread, a raging alcoholic, close to drinking herself to death, who latches onto Amy’s situation like a lifeline.

Fifteen years ago, Amy and Jacob were a couple, but Amy went missing, and is later found half dead. All these years, Amy has lain in a coma, but is now breathing on her own, showing promising signs of brain activity. When Alex comes to the hospital on an assignment, she recognizes Amy, and feels compelled to find out who is responsible for putting her in this condition.

Alex deals with having thrown away her marriage, her career, and her health, all while making some kind of connection with Amy, which leads to an unorthodox introduction to Jacob who still visits Amy every chance he gets.

Jacob is struggling with his marriage to Fiona, who is eight months pregnant and totally in the dark about Jacob and Amy. In order for Jacob to embrace his future completely with Fiona, he must put the demons of the past to rest once and for all.

Thus begins the unlikely partnership between Alex and Jacob, who team up to find Amy’s attacker after these years. The layers of the onion begin peeling back as Amy’s father, stepfather and old high school friends are questioned, and Jacob begins to realize things were not the way he remembers them, and that he didn’t know Amy, or anyone else, as well as he thought…

The characters in this novel are well drawn, realistic, and compelling. Alex, in particular, is portrayed in such a raw and emotional way, highlighting the all too real struggles of an alcoholic, highlighting all she has lost as a result of this disease. Naturally, it’s up to Alex to decide whether to live or die, fight or give up, and in so many ways, Amy’s case is her saving grace.
Jacob is an enigma, keeping secrets from his wife, making me worry about why he felt the need to do that. How did he come to this junction in the road, and why isn’t he fighting harder to live in the here and now?

The case is a puzzler, with many suspects, lots of dark secrets and lies, and unsavory characters. I have to confess, though, that I did have the 'whodunit' part figured out, by three quarters of the way through, but, I didn’t understand the whys and wherefores, and I was so emotionally invested in the characters I could hardly stand to put the book down.

The story became more than just a mystery, it was about restitution, retribution, and finding peace, a purpose, and the release from the strain of guilt and regret.

Overall, this is an impressive, deeply compelling, and powerful story, moving and intense, and okay… it was a stunning debut.

4.5 stars

Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,385 reviews977 followers
December 16, 2015
**4.5 stars**

Try Not To Breathe was a wonderfully engaging and intense story – one to watch in early 2016 I have a feeling it is going to be a huge hit..

Amy had a secret – and her secret nearly killed her. Years later Alex Dale is fighting a losing battle with alcoholism and trying to reboot her journalistic career. Whilst on a story about vegetative and locked in patients she stumbles across a case she remembers well and decides it is time to try and find justice for Amy. Amy meanwhile is not gone – just forgotton.

The storytelling in Try Not To Breathe is of a really brilliant standard – Holly Seddon draws you into Amy’s world, via Alex and others and even Amy herself…it is beautifully done and emotionally resonant throughout. There is a strong theme of redemption running in the narrative, for Alex, for Amy and beyond, that makes YOU hold your breath, waiting to see if they can all come out the other side intact.

The mystery element is underneath all that – the author weaves a web of relationships old and new – Jacob, Amy’s boyfriend at the time who has allowed this horrific act to impact on his marriage is a very sympathetic character although I did want to kick him at times. Alex herself is so realistically flawed that no part of the story is unbelievable – as for Amy, locked in her own head, struggling to understand, her occasional appearances underneath the external happenings just complete this so well and give it a depth of emotion that you feel in every bone.

As for what happened to Amy – well that part of the tale is drip fed in stunning style, leading you ever closer to a resolution you may not expect, one that you need as much as Alex does in order to move on. It has a psychological thriller element that feeds into the character driven portions pitch perfectly, making this a real page turner. Try not to breathe – this one may hit you unexpectedly.

Overall a great read. One of those that you know you’ll think about, imagining what might happen next. There is a completeness to it, but also speaking solely as a reader, I hope to meet Alex again – we’ll see. If wishing made it so…

Highly Recommended.
Profile Image for Brenda.
3,972 reviews2,585 followers
March 12, 2016

Amy Stevenson was only fifteen years old when it happened; her abduction in 1995 was the talk of the town and headlines in the newspapers for a long time afterwards. But Amy had been found alive much to her family’s delight. That was short-lived though when it was realised that Amy would never be the same again – completely unable to communicate and in a vegetative state, the horror of what had happened was intensified by the fact that Amy’s attacker was never found.

Fifteen years later reporter Alex Dale discovered Amy’s story quite by accident. And she felt compelled to dig into Amy’s past and do her best to bring justice to Amy. Alex had her own demons though; her marriage had failed and her career had stalled. The alcohol which ruled her life had wrecked her life – so she determined she could work around it; still having her necessary drinks but setting her rigid schedule to include solving Amy’s cold case.

Slowly Alex began to dig into the past – meticulously following every little clue and hoping she would find something the police hadn’t all those years ago. She interviewed Amy’s old school friends and her boyfriend from back then. Alex felt she was getting closer to finding out something which would break the case – but would she? Was she putting herself in dreadful danger as well? And could she save herself in the process of finding Amy’s abductor?

Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon is an intense psychological thriller which kept me enthralled to the very end. Alex was a hard character to like, but she was portrayed exceptionally well – she was meant to be disliked, or at least not loved. I had worked out the abductor quite early in the piece but that didn’t take my enjoyment away from the story; confirming I was right at the end was satisfying. I highly recommend this thriller to all lovers of the genre.

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this copy in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Frank Phillips.
488 reviews238 followers
February 12, 2019
4.5 Stars rounded up here! I cannot believe this is a debut novel from this author! It had all the elements that I hope for in a thriller and the ending shocked me with the reveal and got me all emotional with how touching it was at the same time. That in itself set it apart from most other solid Thrillers I have read recently! This is a book about assault, illness, disability and comebacks, which I personally have experienced recently. a great read and I would recommend it to pretty much everyone. Cannot wait to read her follow-up novel.
Profile Image for Jill McGill.
223 reviews180 followers
April 15, 2017
Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon is a well-written and fast moving novel that I thoroughly enjoyed!
It's very hard to believe that this was her debut novel - great job!!!
Profile Image for Fictionophile .
982 reviews321 followers
November 12, 2020

First off I have to say that this character driven novel contains all the twists, secrets, guilt, misery, and mystery inherent in all of the best psychological thrillers available today. It does NOT read like the debut novel it is. Well done Holly Seddon!

Simplistically this is the story of two damaged women who become friends.

The first, Amy Stevenson, is very damaged indeed. She is a hospital patient in a vegetative state. Fifteen years ago when she was only fifteen years old, she made a fateful decision which altered her own life and the lives of all who knew her. A silly schoolgirl infatuation coupled with a wager amongst her friends as to who would lose their virginity first… She had a dependable boyfriend, Jake, but like girls her age she craved someone more ‘dangerous’ and exciting. On her way home from school, she went with a man who had sex with her, attacked her, and later left her for dead.

Now Amy is trapped and unable to communicate. She has thoughts – but they are unclear and dreamlike. She doesn’t really realize her own condition, and remains in a distorted, confusing yet static limbo, where she is forever fifteen. She is unaware that time has moved on without her participation. She doesn’t know that she is now thirty years old. An unimaginably horrible plight.

The second woman, the protagonist, is Alex Dale, a journalist and a barely functioning alcoholic. She is the same age as Amy, yet her alcoholism has caused her to lose everything. Her career, her husband, and her unborn baby. Having already hit rock bottom, she is trying to break back into journalism by penning a health article on people in vegetative states. This only in the morning hours – because from noon onward she devotes her time to her serious drinking. Alex is a study in denial. She deludes herself by thinking that if she runs every morning it will somehow negate her deadly habit of drinking to excess every day. She has memories lapses, insomnia, fragile feet, bruises easily, and is incontinent at night. Her doctor has warned her that she will be dead within a year if she continues to drink…

Alex still loves her ex-husband, Matt, a police officer. However Matt has moved on and remarried and has a baby on the way. Moving on is not an option for Alex.

When she begins to visit the hospital for her article, she becomes more and more interested in one particular patient, Amy. She talks to Amy, plays music for her, shares her thoughts. Close in age, they have adolescent memories and experiences in common. As a result, she starts to investigate Amy’s case and wants to find out who did this terrible thing. Amy’s attacker was never found. Alex involves Matt in her investigations into Amy’s case. As painful as it is seeing him, she wants to prove to him that she can accomplish something – that she isn’t a complete loser. She also approaches Amy’s old boyfriend Jacob – which has repercussions for him that prove disastrous.

Jake visits Amy on a regular basis and keeps his visits secret from his pregnant wife, Fiona. He loves his wife, but still has feelings for his old girlfriend, Amy.

Set in Kent, England, this story is written in two time periods. The present is interspersed with flashbacks to the time surrounding Amy’s attack. The brilliant writing, strong characterization, and interesting premise make for compelling reading.

My only qualms about the novel were minor. I really did not find that the title ‘fit’ the novel. I couldn’t connect the two – perhaps someone smarter than I could elucidate? Also, I wondered how accurate was Amy’s voice? I guess the author had to rely on artistic licence for that one; as those suffering from Amy’s condition are in no state to help us understand. The author’s version was plausible, and that suited me just fine.

My guess as to ‘whodunit’ was close, but not on the money. The ending twist was satisfying and realistic.

A character strong plot with a British setting are two of my favorite qualities in a novel and “Try not to breathe” has both. Lucky me! I’m SO looking forward to Holly Seddon’s next novel!

Many thanks to Ballantine Books/Penguin Random House via NetGalley for providing me with a free digital ARC of this novel in exchange for my unbiased review.

5 stars!
Profile Image for Amanda.
72 reviews21 followers
July 20, 2017
Wow!! What a fantastic book! I really enjoyed this one. 'Try Not To Breathe' is Holly Seddon's debut novel and I cannot wait to read her next one (Just discovered I will have to wait until July 2017!).

The characters are so captivating and after finishing the novel I still want to know more about them. Alex is a semi-functioning alcoholic and I had no idea how strong this addiction could be. The lengths Alex goes to, to try and live a normal life are really quite disturbing.

And Amy, poor Amy... she has been in a vegetative state, not quite a coma but very close, for 15 years. Her descriptions on how she feels whilst in this state are absolutely heartbreaking and brought me to tears.

This was a book I COULD NOT PUT DOWN! I highly recommend it!
Profile Image for Monnie.
1,367 reviews755 followers
September 13, 2015
She's earned chops at other forms of writing, but this is the author's first at-bat with a novel. And by golly, she's hit a home run with the bases loaded. Put another way, WOW!

The book begins in England in 1995 with a peek into the life of 15-year-old Amy Stevenson - a young girl with a few good friends, a mother and stepfather she adores (well, most of the time - she's 15, after all), a sweet boyfriend - and a big secret. Fast-forward 15 years and we see Amy again; this time, we learn she's been in a coma for all those years, the victim of a vicious assault. Her secret , it seems, still is safe.

Now, though, that could change. Amy is unable to communicate, but freelance reporter Alex Dale is chomping at the bit to do a human-interest story on comatose patients and zeroes in on Amy. Alex, though, comes with secrets of her own; she's got an ex-husband she still loves (a cop), a former but once-promising career as a journalist and an addiction she just can't sweep under the rug. But as she begins to dig into what really happened to Amy - police investigated the case back then but found no conclusive evidence - Alex becomes more determined each day to get to the truth and, at least in some measure, bring closure both to herself and to Amy.

Chapters of the book, which for the record I received for review from the publisher via Netgalley, shift from present to past - a technique that works perfectly here for a couple of reasons. First, each chapter is subtitled with the year and name of the character whose perspective is showcased; that alone alleviates the confusion I've experienced in other books over who's who and what's what. More importantly, each chapter reveals just enough information to compel me to keep going. In fact, I read this book over two days, setting it down with great reluctance and telling my very hungry husband, "Just one more chapter, honey" so often that he finally rolled his eyes, picked up the phone and ordered a pizza.

There's a lot more I'd love to say, but because the layers of truth are peeled back slowly in successive chapters (very skillfully, I might add), doing so would spoil things for other readers. But one thing I'll shout from the rooftops: This is one of the best books I've read in a while. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Tim The Enchanter.
349 reviews173 followers
February 22, 2016
Posted to The Literary Lawyer.ca

Pretention vs. Enjoyment - 4 vs. 5 Stars

4 Stars or 5 Stars. 4 Stars or 5 Stars. 4 Stars or 5 Stars. Choosing my rating tends to be an easy choice. The pretentious reviewer in me thought I should go with 4 stars. The down to earth guy who loves a good yarn thought this was worth all 5. In this case, enjoyment won out over pretention and 5 stars rule the day.

Plot Summary

The story follows Alex, a down and out journalist. Her life is controlled by serious alcohol addiction and as a result has lost her family, friends, career and self worth. While attending the neuro-disability floor of her local hospital to follow up a piece on a local doctor, Alex meets Amy Stevenson. Amy was the victim of an unsolved crime committed some 15 years earlier. Since her attack, she has been living in her hospital bed, having suffered a serious head injury. While most people would say she was in a "vegetative state", she did have brain activity which allowed for some rudimentary communication. Being the same age as Amy and recalling the disturbing events of years previous, Alex decides to write a story on Amy and attempt to dig up new information. As Amy follows the crumbs toward Amy's attacker, Alex embarks on a journey of self discovery and must face her own demons while chasing the ghosts of Amy's past.

My Take

I was hooked. The book had me from the beginning and held on until the end. I enjoyed the concept of the book and Alex's investigation. An alcoholic character investigating a crime? That has been used to death. Normally, I would roll my eyes at the lack of imagination. Where this differed though, is the portrayal of the alcoholism. It was a deadly problem for Alex and a serious compulsion, yet she was functioning. Her world was built around a addiction that was killing her, yet she managed to construct an artificial world with its own sets of rules and regulations. By strict adherence, she managed to combine the real world with her internal world. As an interesting parallel, we are also privy to the internal consciousness of Amy and how her stunted consciousness interacts with and interprets the real world. The unconsciously constructed world of Amy and the consciously constructed world of Alex allowed for an unlikely bonding and connection.

There were issues with the book. At times, the writing was unnecessarily opaque and attempts to obscure certain elements only highlighted those elements as important. In my mind, this was the biggest downfall of the novel. In future novels, I would expect the author to improve the skill of misdirection. The best magicians make you look where they want without telling you to do so. Like many other reviewers, I picked up on the attackers identity long before the end and I guessed many of the events that surrounded that reveal.

The reviewer in me would hold these issues against the writer but the reader in me didn't find it fair. I was hooked on the story and couldn't wait to pick it back up. For me, this novel didn't hinge on the resolution to Amy's story. I was engaged with the characters, their development and the manner in which they coped. They story was about the characters and not the criminal. I was engaged in the journey and less about the destination.

Final Thoughts

Had the novel been less engaging, my rating would have been reduced. The author has crafted an excellent debut novel and left me hopeful of other compelling work to come. This title will be released on February 23, 2015. I highly recommend you preorder your copy today or stop by your local bookstore next week. I would expect this title to sell very well.

Content Advisories

It is difficult to find commentary on the sex/violence/language content of book if you are interested. I make an effort to give you the information so you can make an informed decision before reading.

Scale 1 - Lowest 5 - Highest

Sex - 2.5

Much of the back story revolves around a single sexual experience. It is often discussed but it is not graphic.


F-Word - 55 instances Mild Profanity - Approx. 40 Religious Exclamations - 10

Violence - 2.5

While it is an act of violence that allowed for the mystery, there is very little description of the act. Its serves as a back drop.
Profile Image for Lee.
584 reviews93 followers
December 6, 2015
This story revolves around two view points, Alex and Amy's. Alex is a journalist who likes to drink a lot, but is still capable of functioning at work. She is visiting a hospice to research coma victims when she sees a girl that she recognises as Amy Stevenson. Amy has been lying in a coma for 15 years after suffering a brutal attack, the culprit yet to be found. Alex becomes fascinated with Amy's story, she visits regularly, holding Amy's hand, talking to her and in her own way, develops a bond with her. What happened to Amy? why has no one ever been charged with her attack, surely there is much more to this story that needs to be discovered.
I did not pick the end which is just how I like it. This is another great book from a first time author, I really, really enjoyed it.
Thank you to Netgally and Random House for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,891 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.