Review: Before I Go to Sleep

Before I Go to Sleep
Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow. What a truly stunning debut novel. ‘Before I go to sleep’ had me hooked from the first paragraph and despite working like a loon I managed to read it in a few days. I was impressed with how well it is written, no flabby sentences, no overuse of description just concise clear language. Somebody told me the basic premise of the book and I immediately thought, ah, a reworking of ‘Memento’ which is a wonderful film with Guy Pearce playing a character who has no short term memories. The two stories are very similar in that respect but if anything Before I go to sleep is even more sinister. Christine wakes every morning not knowing where she is or who is in bed with her and every morning she looks in the bathroom mirror to see a woman looking back at her who is twenty years older than she thinks she is. The man in bed with her is her husband Ben and every morning he explains to her who she is, that she had an accident and that she can no longer retain any new memories. So every day she goes through this routine until Dr Nash contacts her and suggests that she keeps a journal and slowly she starts to price together who she really is. I can’t say more than that without spoiling it but S J Watson does an impeccable job of weaving us in and out of trusting characters in Christine’s life and making us doubt her own memories that start to surface. The ending is excellent, a real cliff hanger with plenty if twists and turns and it resolves itself in a very believable manner, unlike a lot of thrillers you may see at the cinema. My only gripe comes at the very end of the book on page 370 where a character says to Christine, ‘Have you read your journal today?’ and she replies yes only to be asked again, by the same character, on page 372 if she still has her journal. She shakes her head and says, ‘He burned it.’ Now she either has the journal or she doesn’t? Have I read this wrong or has Watson messed up? Anyway, that aside its an excellent novel and you should read it.

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