Before I Go To Sleep Review

Book: Before I Go To Sleep

Author: SJ Watson

I decided to read this book after seeing the trailer for the movie, which I thought looked very good. I hadn’t heard of it before I read it, but from what I could see from the trailer for the movie the premise was interesting so I thought I’d give the book a shot. I’m glad I did as for the most part it is an enjoyable read and a very good debut novel from this author. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love – all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.

Welcome to Christine’s life.

Essentially the premise of the book is that Christine Lucas is a 47 year old woman who suffered severe head trauma in an accident decades ago and suffers from anterograde amnesia, meaning that every night when she falls asleep her memories from the previous day are erased and she wakes up having no idea who or where she is.

I’m glad I had not read any reviews prior to reading the book because it meant I had no expectations therefore could only be pleasantly surprised. It’s not the greatest crime thriller I’ve ever read, but it was a perfectly enjoyable read. One of the problems with the plot device that the author has decided to use is that it tends to get a little repetitive since Christine has to be reminded of certain facts every day, meaning that because the book is in Christine’s point of view, you as the reader are constantly reminded of things that you already know but that she does not.

The plot itself is rather slow, and you figure out who the villain of the story is relatively quickly. I also felt that aside from Christine you don’t find out much about any of the characters, and I would like for some of the supporting characters to be more developed than they ended up being. The climax of the book gets pretty exciting, although the twist is not as surprising as it probably should have been. I thought the beginning of the book set it up to be a good thriller, and that the inclusion of the journal was a good plot device for finding out more about Christine but it did lag a little after a while. I also felt that there should have been a scene between Christine and her son Adam at the end. I wasn’t entirely sure about the ending,the fact that everyone got their happy ending seemed a little implausible.
The fact that Christine’s memory was so badly affected and then she suddenly gets better after twenty five years of no memory also seems kind of impossible. I also found that some parts of the book just didn’t make much sense and I felt a little confused about certain things when I finished the book. I wasn’t sure exactly how I felt about Christine as a character, I didn’t love her but I didn’t hate her either and I did feel for her situation, I wanted to find out what happened to her as much as she did, which is probably what kept me reading through some of the slower parts of the novel.
You can certainly tell that this is the author’s first novel because certain sections are a little simplistic and stilted. The journal entries are also a little long in certain places and I find it slightly unbelievable that Ben allowed her to write for so long alone without questioning what she was doing. Also surely someone with memory loss as severe as hers would need to be kept an eye on by social services or something like that, she wouldn’t be left alone all the time. I think this is the sort of book that might work better as a film because there are parts that are very exciting and the diary parts could be condensed a bit, besides it seems like the concept may come across better on film. It’s quite clear that it’s a male author writing as a female because no females call their underwear “panties” and that’s kind of a pet hate of mine. It’s a good read for summer as it’s a relatively easy read. Compared to other thrillers there are darker ones out there so if that is what you’re looking for this book is probably not for you. The writing style is convincing as if someone with amnesia has actually written it. The idea of keeping a journal to help regain her memory seemed like a good one, it’s surprising it took twenty years before someone recommended it to her. At times I found it a little confusing as to what was true and what wasn’t. There were also certain americanisms in places which didn’t work considering the book is supposed to be set in London.
Overall the book was good, but a little slow in places and is maybe more for a young adult audience than an adult audience which I think it was supposed to be aimed at. I can forgive a lot considering this is the author’s first novel and is by no means terrible-the writing style could use a little improvement but otherwise this was a pretty good book once you got into it, particularly the climax and the only thing that really lets you down is the ending since even the repetitiveness of the journal can be explained by the characters amnesia and I think the film should be quite good and I’m looking forward to seeing it. I’m not sure if I’ll read another book by him, since I prefer Gillian Flynn’s thrillers to his but this was certainly a good first effort for a debut novel.

My rating: 3/5

Since I’ve been on holiday with limited Internet, I’ll be posting reviews of all the books I read on holiday so expect a few in the next few days. The next book I will be reviewing is the second book in the Unwind quartet Unwholly, by Neal Shusterman.