Journalist Cecily Wong is on her most dangerous climb yet, Manaslu. But the elements are nothing compared to one chilling truth: There’s a killer on the mountain.
Journalist Cecily Wong is in over her head. She’s come to Manaslu, the eighth-highest peak in the world, to interview internationally famous mountaineer Charles McVeigh on the last leg of a record-breaking series of summits. She’s given up everything for this story—her boyfriend, her life savings, the peace she’s made with her climbing failures in the past—but it’s a career-making opportunity. It could finally put her life back on track.
But when one climber dies in what everyone else assumes is a freak accident, she fears their expedition is in danger. And by the time a second climber dies, it’s too late to turn back. Stranded on a mountain in one of the most remote regions of the world, she’ll have to battle more than the elements in a harrowing fight for survival against a killer who is picking them off one by one.
Breathless is a thriller at 8,000+ feet, focused on one young journalist’s attempt to summit the eight-highest peak in the world, Manaslu in Nepal. When climbers start dying, it may be more than the mountain and weather trying to kill them.
Breathless is Amy McCullouch’s debut adult novel and also a new genre for the author. I thought that this was rather apparent within the book. The conflicts lacked nuance, the characters were not particularly well-developed, and the tension failed to build.
After an initial death at the base of the mountain, it is many, many pages (well over 100) until something big happens again. I do not necessarily think that this is an issue on its own, but I found that the tension that created fizzled rather than laid the baseline for more events. It left me feeling like the plot was slow until the last quarter of the book. I was hoping for an edge-of-your-seat thriller and was left wanting. The climax and resolution also felt poorly paced.
I think the other big missed opportunity was the atmosphere a novel in this setting lends. I was expecting to feel wind-whipped and cold and instead found the descriptions lacking. For example, I had to look up several mountain terms for a clear picture of what they were. The inherent danger of climbing a high peak never really hit me. I expected it to punch me considering that the author actually climbed Manaslu.
Overall, Breathless left me wanting more. I enjoyed learning about high altitude mountain climbing but felt like the missed opportunities weighed down the book. I would recommend Breathless if you enjoyed Into Thin Air or are seeking a thriller in an unexpected setting.
RECOMMENDED FOR SOME
May 3, 2022