Try Not to Breathe, by Holly Seddon*****

trynottobreatheTry Not to Breathe is the sort of book that steals into your senses and takes over your life until it is done.I was invited to read and review this title by Net Galley and Random House Ballantine. My thanks go to both.  I fed it to myself into intentionally small bites at first, because I read several hours before I go to sleep, and under no circumstances did I want this story anywhere in my dreams. On Friday I hit the halfway mark, and immediately realized that Seddon’s novel would occupy my Saturday, period.

It’s a story that will make you put the cereal in the fridge and the milk in a cupboard. But on the other hand, it’s a terrific book to be snowed-in with.

Our premise is that Amy, a fifteen year old girl that was savagely beaten by a party unknown, has been unconscious in the hospital for fifteen additional years. But she isn’t on a ventilator, and brain waves turn up on the MRI. She can’t communicate, but she is thinking part of the time.

She’s still in there.

Our two other chief protagonists are Jake and Alex. Jake was Amy’s girlfriend, and briefly was considered a suspect by police. He didn’t do it, and he still visits her now that her family is gone. Partly it is because it’s believed that she can hear what is said to her, and he hopes that he can provide some measure of comfort. And partly he visits the ward for the quiet. It’s his private time, when neither work nor his wife can claim his attention. But he doesn’t tell his wife, and the lies are building up, corroding his relationship with his very pregnant spouse.

Alex is a free lance reporter whose love affair with alcohol has displaced her career, ended her pregnancy, and destroyed her marriage. She is isolated, miserable, and needs someone to talk to. With the tantalizing promise that her nearly moribund career can be rekindled by uncovering new information in Amy’s case, she begins visiting Amy, and she begins digging. And as one revelation leads to another, the tension and suspense are nearly unbearable!

The ending leaves me slightly dissatisfied, a left curve thrown in order to surprise the reader, but the innovative way in which it is revealed is so clever that I can’t bring myself to lop even half a star off my rating. If like me you occasionally wallow in a good thriller or mystery, you’ll find this one is a cut above the rest.

Seddon, herself an accomplished journalist, makes her debut as a novelist with this title, and she is a writer to watch in the future. Her thriller is available to the public February 23, 2016. Highly recommended!

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