Thursday, August 11, 2011

Review: Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

Title: Before I Go To Sleep
Author: S.J. Watson
Publisher: Harper
Pages: 368 (ARC Copy)
Rating: 4/5 Stars

Any book compelling enough to get me to read it in one day deserves at least four stars. I might have given it five if it hadn't felt a little like watching the novelization of an above average Lifetime movie.

Told from the first person it's impossible not to share Christine's confusion and panic as she wakes up each morning with no knowledge of who she is or the identity of the strange man lying next to her in bed. Her story is told to both her and the reader through a journal she's been keeping at the suggestion of a psychiatrist she's been seeing without her husband's knowledge. That right there, Ben's ignorance of Christine's quest for the truth, is the first of many clues that nothing in Christine's world is as it seems.

S.J. Watson's choice to tell this strictly from Christine's perspective is most definitely the right one. Sometimes first person is too restricting and leaves me wanting more, but in this case it was much more fun to piece together the clues slowly through her eyes.

While the plot did feel rather maudlin and melodramatic at times, the twists and turns made for a thrilling ride. Several outcomes came to mind very early on, but I was never certain which would end up being the real truth. The ending was satisfying without being too neat and tidy. You're given the impression that Christine's memory may not disappear when she goes to sleep this time, that the next morning she may remember her newly rediscovered friends and family and just that possibility is enough.

Edit 6/6/11: I've spent more time pondering this novel and I have a couple more observations. Sometimes, I caught notions and phrases that seemed repetitive to me. In any other book, I'd call that a flaw. In this book I found meaning to the repetitiveness beyond author laziness. A woman starting every day from scratch has little choice but to repeat the same things over and over.

Christine lost her memory when she was in her late twenties. Watson does a really good job in keeping her in that late 20s mentality. I didn't feel like I was reading about a woman in her late 40s. It was interesting to be reminded, along with Christine, what her real age was.


  1. It seems like amnesiac books are the new trend. I know this is an adult, but there have been at least 4 amnesia-centric books released in the YA genre in the last few months. Weird.

  2. The synopsis for this book reminds me a little of Forgotten by Cat Patrick (another book I haven't read but hope to read soon). Nevertheless, I've always found books centred around amnesia sufferers interesting and your review has sparked my interest in this one too Great review!


  3. awesome review ive heard so many aweosme things about this book i so want to read it