My sister Sinéad sends me so many pictures of books and recommendations that I’ve had to set up a shelf on GoodReads to keep track of them – I don’t always remember where I decided I wanted to get something, and sometimes I forget to tell her that I have the book, so that she can read it too. Try Not To Breathe was one of the books that she decided she liked the look of, so I got it on my Kindle, and read it back in June.
Try Not To Breathe sounds like it would be the kind of book I’d like. There’s an unreliable narrator (because she’s in a persistent vegetative state), an alcoholic, a broken marriage, a crime to be solved, all things which have worked well for me in other books like The Girl On The Train and Gone Girl. So I was going into this with high hopes of really liking it.
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…
In the end, though, I found it interesting, but not really gripping. It felt a bit like a bandwagon jumper, with an alcoholic main character and a broken marriage behind her, and a mystery to be solved with memory gaps, but was by no means a bad book. I did guess the attacker pretty early on, though, which was disappointing.
There’s something about reading a crime/drama/thriller book like this which I really enjoy, but it has to be done well. Try Not To Breathe, I thought, was just a mediocre example of a genre which has to be excellent to grip me, so I was left decidedly unimpressed by this one.
While I couldn’t put my finger on any one thing that I really disliked about this book, I also couldn’t put my finger on anything that I actually liked, so I was left with a very non-committal opinion towards it. That in and of itself is disappointing, because when it’s done well, this is the kind of book that I would absolutely rave about. I thrust Gone Girl in the hands of everyone I found for a good three months after I read it, just because I was so entranced by its twisted approach to marriage and the cool girl. On top of that, I also searched out Gillian Flynn’s other books (not that it was difficult, given how phenomenally successful Gone Girl was), and will read whatever she publishes in the future.
The Girl on the Train, then, was like Gone Girl, but less impressive, for me. I don’t know if I’m going to go see it when it comes out in the cinema later this year. But Try Not To Breathe was even less again. It had lots of elements of things that I like, but it didn’t pull them together in a way which gripped me, so I was left disappointed by a book which I had thought was really going to be quite exciting.