Friday, 17 February 2017
Crime Fiction: Holly Seddon's Try Not to Breath
Published by: Atlantic Books Ltd
Genre: Crime / Mystery
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...
Try not to Breath is being compared to The Girl on the Train, and there are similarities. Alex, like Rachel, is struggling with alcoholism and they have both experienced the same tragedy and misfortune in their personal lives. The key difference is that in TGOTT, these experiences are the cause of Rachel's alcoholism, whereas, in TNTB, the experiences are effects of Alex's alcoholism and we are not given an explanation for the cause. We know she started drinking in her mid teens and it seemed to carry on throughout her adulthood and got out of control before she realised it was a problem - which, in my view, is more plausible. We also see the reality of Alex's situation (including scenes when she is drinking and the ugly after-effects), and how she skillfully manages to hide it and give the impression to those around her that she does not have a problem. For me, Alex is a strong and sympathetic character who I could empathise with and I willed her to get better; whereas Rachel is a weak and pathetic one that I did not care about at all.
Is Alex redeemed? Well, that would be a spoiler. I will say that her investigation into what happened to Amy, and her determination to discover the truth provides her with a purpose in life, as she seeks justice for a girl (almost) all but forgotten.
Unlike the other books like this that I have read and reviewed in the past, this one actually reads like a 'whodunnit' crime mystery. I found it affecting, in that Amy's story in particular haunted me for a day or two after I had finished it. Also, TNTB served to help me understand further why I disliked TGOTT so much - because with all the publicity, praise and hype about that book I was expecting something that reads more like this one.
Hooray! At last I have found another crime fiction novel I can highly recommend (Gone Girl) being the other.