try not to breathe

Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon

I rarely add my voice to the complaints on goodreads over their lack of half-stepped star ratings, in part because the chorus is already rather loud and in part because they don’t seem moved to change the process anytime soon.

But with Try Not to Breathe, I feel the pain. Seddon’s debut is strong, warranting more than three stars, but I don’t feel quite ready to make the leap to four.

We have the damaged investigator (though in this story she isn’t a detective but a journalist who has fallen from grace - so, a freelance journalist), and a young victim who, instead of dying or mysteriously disappearing fifteen years before, is in a not-quite-a-coma state.

 I had some difficulties with the damages attributed to the protagonist because they seemed there just for the sake of her having an Achilles heel than they seemed pertinent to the story or even her ability to investigate.

And I figured out the bad guy at the 24% mark. I can’t tell you how alarming this is, simply because this isn’t something that I do. And the way I figured out he was the bad guy is a process I’m severely tempted to reveal, as it was red-flagged throughout the narrative, but it could be such a spoiler that I won’t – perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to be less perceptive on these flags than I was.

However.

I thoroughly enjoyed the methods used to convey the victim’s point of view, particularly after her assault. I appreciated Seddon’s instilling of music in the victim’s personality (and it’s further inclusion in the title).

And while I never warmed to (or even at least accepted) the protagonist’s destructive behaviors, I understood that Seddon tried something different here and on the whole she certainly drew me in as a reader. I was engaged and, even though I knew who the villain was early on, there was enough question about the outcome to anxiously return to the narrative.

Random House generously provided an advanced reader’s copy for me to try this debut author and their gamble paid off; I will definitely be on the lookout for Seddon’s next mystery!