07 March 2012

Book Review: Before I Go to Sleep

Title: Before I Go To Sleep
Author: S.J. Watson
Publisher/Year: Harper / 2011
Source/Format: TLC Book Tours / Print
Date Finished: 27 February 2012
Book # 10

Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid

The Short and Sweet of It
Christine wakes up in a strange bed next to a man she doesn't recognize. Every morning. Her life is a mystery to her as she suffers from amnesia after a horrible accident left her incapable of retaining new information or remembering much of her past. But now she's keeping a journal, trying to tie together the events of her life and find out what happened and why her husband is lying to her.

A Bit of a Ramble
The premise, an inability to make new memories, has fascinated me ever since I watched Memento, a well constructed film directed by Christopher Nolan. Like Memento, Before I Go to Sleep focuses on the construction of reality when the protagonist can't see cause and effect. And both film and book have their characters rely on notes to get them through (tattoos in Memento and a journal in Before I Go to Sleep). Where the two really differ is that Memento brutally shows how truth is practically impossible for someone with retrograde amnesia while Watson's book offers hope. Christine's journal really allows her to work her way through a mystery to get at the truth of her life.

Getting at that truth was tons of fun. Gathering the clues and piecing everything together along with Christine kept the book moving at quite the clip for the most part. The repetitive nature of the story - necessitated by the whole memory loss thing - did lose my interest enough towards the center to allow me to get distracted by the impracticality of the whole thing. I guess I'm more pessimistic about the possibility of someone suffering from amnesia of this sort actually making sense of her life. And then there's the journal. After all, with the amount of writing that woman did in her journal, plus reading it and processing it the next day, she clearly did not have time to actually do all of the things she writes about.

But those are small complaints that really were only an issue for a chunk in the middle where the story wasn't quite progressing as fast as I would have liked. Overall, I enjoyed the story and it certainly captured my interest to the point where I didn't have any trouble reading for long stretches of time.

This Book Around the Web
(let me know if I missed yours)

Check out other reviews of Watson's thriller

Read and reviewed as part of a book tour for TLC


  1. Definitely sounds like Memento, as well as 50 First Dates (though of course that's far more lighthearted and humorous).

  2. Other reviews have mentioned Memento as well, which I didn't get, so I figured I should avoid this book!

  3. I liked this book, but the points you made were spot on. If she spent all that time reading and writing, when did she have time to live? Also, the ending seemed a little to pat, which bothered me a little bit. I thought some of the aspects of the story were far fetched, but overall, it was an interesting read. I really enjoyed reading your take on this one.

  4. I thought this book was easy to read and kept me interested and entertained, but at the end of the day it was just alright for me. I thought the convenient ending was kind of a sell out.

  5. I love the premise, and the book I always fall back on for this sort of thing is The Housekeeper and the Professor (also a collector of notes/written artifacts to orient himself). Will be getting around to this one sometime!

  6. Maybe you have enjoyed it more as an audiobook. I thought it was terrific, especially with the sublime Orlagh Cassidy as narrator. here is m review: http://wordsandpeace.com/2011/11/21/83-before-i-go-to-sleep/

  7. I listened to this on audio and enjoyed it and agree with Emma, Orlagh is a great narrator.

  8. Our reviews are almost mirror images of each other! I mentioned Memento too -- and I think it was the more superior work of art.

  9. Proof that I read too fast...I read amnesia as anemia and had a what the hell moment.

  10. There was a show on the Science Channel last night about people who can't convert short term memories into long term memories ... I can't imagine living like that!

    I'm glad you enjoyed this book overall. Thanks for being on the tour! (And I'm so enjoying all the Facebook updates on you and your family!)

  11. I agree that the book lost a lot of the momentum the premise should have generated. The journal went on too long for me, and I thought the reveals weren't punchy enough. But it was still an entertaining, fun read.

  12. I've got this one in my TBR pile... I guess I should get around to it! :)

  13. I've seen lots of the reviews I've read mention the movie Memento. I'm definitely curious and want to see the movie now. I'll have to see if Netflix has it. Great review!

  14. My friend just gave me this and said I have to read it!

  15. This one got me really curious. I want to find out more about Christine and Ben.

    Thanks for this wonderful review and for putting this book on my radar!


Talk to me baby!