Friday, 19 August 2011

Book Review: Before I go to Sleep by S.J. Watson.


Product details:
Publisher: Harper
Hardcover, 368 pages.
Release date: June 14th 2011.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Ages: Adult.
Source: Netgalley.

 'As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I'm still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me ...' Memories define us. 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.


One of the most buzzed about debuts of 2011, S.J. Watson’s Before I go to Sleep is a riveting psychological thriller that certainly lives up to all the praise which has been bestowed upon it. Billed as perfect for fans of movies such as Memento and Shutter Island, Before I go to Sleep is a fast-paced, intense and unputdownable page turner that will have you hooked right from the very first page.

We first meet Christine Lucas as she wakes up in a strange bed, in a strange room, lying next to a man she doesn’t know, and has no recollection of meeting. As she plans her escape before the man wakes up, or worse still, his wife returns to find them in bed together, Christine makes her way to the bathroom where she sees the reflection of a much older woman staring back at her in the mirror. Stifling a scream, Christine wonders what the hell is going on. No longer the fun loving party girl of twenty years ago, Christine is now ia forty seven year old woman with ‘wrinkled skin’, ‘thinning lips’ and a ‘sagging chin’. Still recovering from the shock, she then learns that the man lying beside her is her husband, Ben, and she loves him, or she must do to have married him, but just like everything else, she has no recollection of their life together. It soon emerges that every night when Christine goes to sleep, she forgets everything that has happened to her during the day. This is her life. It happens day after day after day, and has been happening for more than twenty years. Up until now, Christine has been totally reliant on Ben to tell her all the details of her life, past and present. Recently though, with the help of a Dr. Nash, Christine has started to keep a journal where she can log her own memories and this is when things start to get interesting as it soon becomes apparent that there are a whole lot of discrepancies in the stories that Ben has been telling. Has he left certain details of Christine’s life out to save her from re-living pain and sadness, or is there something far more sinister at play?

Before I go to Sleep is as compelling and thought-provoking a book as it is disturbing and scary at times. Can you imagine if you had no memories of your own and you had to rely on one person to recount the details of your life for you? Could you trust them not to keep secrets from you, and not to tell lies? Christine’s world is as scary and as unknown to her as it is to us. She provides the narration throughout the book, and so we only know what she knows, and what little she remembers. In a clever move, Watson ensures that we never have all the details we need and at no point do we know if any of the details presented to us are the truth or just lies which up until now Christine has not questioned. Admittedly even through the foggy haze of Christine’s memory loss, I didn’t have a hard time predicting the outcome here, although my enjoyment of the book wasn’t affected by this. In fact, with numerous plot twists and countless surprises I was kept second-guessing myself throughout and at one point I suspected almost everyone in Christine’s life of having sinister motives towards her!

An accomplished debut, I enjoyed Before I go to Sleep from start to finish and found it all so exciting that I read it in one sitting. S.J. Watson is an author to watch, and I can’t wait to read the next book from this great new talent!






20 comments :

  1. OOh this looks good. How did I miss this on Net Galley?

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  2. I've never even heard of this one before--thanks for bringing it to my attention. I think the premise sounds really unique and like an edge of your seat kind of read. Great review, Leanna!

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  3. Ooh, I don't usually read adult but I really love the sound of this one! I can imagine how difficult it'd be to be in that situation, not knowing anyone's motive. Brilliant review!

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  4. This is a great book. Like you I was suspecting everyone, too. I felt like Christine throughout the novel. I couldn't possibly imagine waking up every morning and not knowing who I was. I can't wait to see what's next from Watson. Great review!

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  5. I agree with Liz. I normally don't read adult books either but the way you've written your review just makes me want to give this one a try. It's terrifying to have amnesia and to rely on one person to tell you how the days/years have gone by.

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  6. Wow. I love the sound of this one!

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  7. @ Viv & Vicki - knowing the kind of books that you two like, I think you would both love this!


    Thanks for the comments everyone - I highly recommend checking this one out even if its not your usual thing!

    @ Julie - I ended up suspecting literally everyone of lying even though I had pretty much guessed the outcome right from the start. ha!

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  8. I have heard awesome things of this book and I'm glad you enjoyed this one too. Sounds like a very good read!

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  9. This is the first I have heard of this book but it sounds awesome. Great review Leanna :)

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  10. Shutter Island gave me the creeps! Not sure if I should read this...I hate that I get scared so easy! It's as if the older I get the more scared I get...pathetic, lol :) Great review!

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  11. This sounds good! I haven't read a good "ground hog" idea and I am intrigued... I need to get this one.

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  12. I so want to read this! I didn't know it was on netgalley.

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  13. "Can you imagine if you had no memories of your own and you had to rely on one person to recount the details of your life for you? Could you trust them not to keep secrets from you, and not to tell lies?"

    LOVE the sound of that. I really enjoy books that keep me second-guessing myself with every new piece of information or plot twist. Awesome review Leanna!

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  14. Eh. I'll rent 50 First Dates instead and save me a few hours. Same theme. LOL.

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  15. Wow this looks brilliant. Thanks for the fantastic review have addied it to the wish-list :D

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  16. Can't believe I missed this on Netgalley! It reminds me a little bit of Forgotten which I loved so hopefully I'll love this one too thanks for the review!

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  17. @ Jess - the synopsis sounds like Forgotten, but this is a lot darker! Think you will enjoy it! :)

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  18. Just read this book, it is really good and the story is clever! I love your reviews, I have just started blogging about books myself :)

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  19.  Thanks so much! Yes, I really liked this one! Can't wait to see what Watson writes next! :)

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