Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

by Kristopher Cook
Time to Read: 3 minutes

We forget, ironically, how important our memories are to us. They’re what define us as people and allow us to make future decisions. Without them, it’s impossible to learn.

This is the unfortunate situation Christine finds herself in.

As you can guess from the title, Before I go to Sleep is about a forty-seven-year-old woman, Christine Lucas, who suffers from a condition that leaves her waking up every morning without any memories of the previous days.

When Christine wakes, she’s lying alongside her husband Ben, which he has to explain to her every time. In the bathroom are family photos of Ben and her to help jog her memory, as well as give her more stability throughout the day.

As the days progress, Christine, through the advice of Doctor Nash, begins to keep a secret journal. When she reads back over her prior days, not everything makes sense, further clouding her current judgement.

Christine’s condition seems plausible enough and is written in a way to suggest that trauma is the cause. These questions are answered throughout the book; however when dealing with a character who cannot remember one day from the other, who knows what’s real.

This is where the mystery and intrigue come into play.

The Mystery

If Ben has to deal with Christine’s problems every day, then he must become sick of going through the trauma over and over. For that reason alone, it’d be easier for him to make up a simple lie, maybe even a different one each time. This would avoid him having to re-live any traumatic events that might involve himself.

Christine’s journal becomes the novels, primary plot mover, without it, we’d just be stuck in constant groundhog day.

Nonetheless, there’s always the danger of confabulation; creating false memories. This only adds to the unknown in Christine’s life.

There are subtle hints throughout to suggest what is going on in the background, and although I thought I had it all figured out, I was wrong.

This is the exact quality I look for in a mystery-thriller.

Take me on a ride and then hit me with a twist, just as long as the twist is plausible. *I’m looking at you M.Night*

Given that the book centres around a female character, without any prior knowledge, I thought that S.J Watson was a female author. I was wrong. I suppose there’s a backhanded compliment in there somewhere.

If there’s one part I would change about the book, it’d be the ending. Although it’s conclusive and fits the story, it does feel rushed and a touch contrived. There’s a lot of detail missed out or conveniently plastered over for the sake of the narrative.

Closing Thoughts

Before I Go to Sleep is an impressive debut novel. An excellent book to read when you want something to test your senses.

There’re moments of sheer terror; who am I, what am I doing here, who’re they? And there are moments of uphill emotional struggle.

For those of you who have read similar books, in the past, you might be able to sus-out the ending, but I didn’t. And for that reason, I’m giving Before I Go to Sleep a recommend for any mystery fiction fans, although it just falls short of the heights of Sharp Objects.

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1 comment

The Giver by Lois Lowry | Book Review | Kristopher Cook 1st August 2019 - 8:03 am

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