Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson: Book Reviewed


'Before I Go To Sleep' book cover.
‘Before I Go To Sleep’ book cover.

Christine Lucas is an amnesiac. Every night she goes to sleep and all the memories she accumulated that day disappear without a trace, leaving her, yet again, not knowing where she is, or why she’s middle aged and wrinkled when just last night she thought she was 22. Ben tells her he’s her husband, and must explain this to her every day, but when she realises that he’s keeping things from her, doubt plays in her mind: Can she trust the man she must rely entirely upon, and can she afford not to?


‘What are we, if not an accumulation of our memories?’

So I’ve just come out of the end of a Harry Potter reading marathon, which is bittersweet: I’ll miss all those characters and stories I love, but I’ve got a whole world of book to choose from. And this one was the first.

I’ve been wanting to read ‘Before I Go To Sleep’ for a while now, perhaps a few years, but the fact that the movie was coming out when I read it last week (and is now out. I will be seeing it on Sunday) meant I had to read it soon.

‘Before I Go To Sleep’ was written by S.J. Watson, and it’s his debut novel, always a good sign as debuts are generally quite good. Obviously when authors have these initial names, liked J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien, it’s impossible to tell whether it’s a man or a woman. I found out halfway through reading this book that S.J. Watson is, in fact, a man, when I had just presumed him to be a woman, probably because the main character is a woman. This surprised and impressed me. He had really managed to write from a girls point of view very convincingly, so kudos for that.

So what’s my general reaction? Good, this was a very good book. I’m very new to the adult mystery/thriller genre, in fact this may have been the first I’ve read, and so I don’t have much to compare it to (although I am reading ‘Gone Girl’ at the moment), but I thought it was done very well, there were some interesting twists that surprised me, not immensely, but surprised me nonetheless. Admittedly the beginning of this book, and then the end, were more exciting than the middle. About 70% of this book is uninterrupted journal entries, taking up the middle segment, and while they were interesting, I thought they dragged on a little. This book is almost 500 pages long, (or at least it is on my version, I’ve seen it be a bit shorter) and if the diary entries were briefer it could have been a lot more fast paced.

I also felt a little creative license was used in the journal entries. I found myself scoffing a bit sometimes when Christine recounted long conversation word for word, and described things in a lot of detail, telling us the smallest movements she was making at the time, despite the fact that in the story she would be writing this hours later. Still, I suppose, I can forgive this as it probably made for a more interesting read and was creative license justifiably used.

As I said, I did really enjoy the opening. It was very intriguing, as you were taken through the process of Christine waking up and realising where she was. Also, as the diary ended you were thrown back into the action a bit more, and things picked up.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book for what it was, and while the middle was a little slow, it wasn’t painfully slow and the overall product was very readable and enjoyable. It was thrilling as it intended to be, mysterious and twisty, because although the twists weren’t mind-blowing they were clever enough to be satisfying. I’m going to give ‘Before I Go To Sleep’ 4/5 stars. I was torn between 3 and 4 stars, and it would probably be more in the middle of the two.

I’ll be watching the movie very soon and giving you a review of that. I’ve also got another couple of book and movie reviews coming up. Until then goodbye!