Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson

‘Before I Go To Sleep’ by S. J. Watson has been one of this year’s most talked about thrillers.  The plot centres around Christine who wakes up every day not knowing where she is, who her husband is or what has happened in the last twenty odd years of her life.  With her memories of the day being erased every single night, who can she trust?

The concept of memory loss is an interesting one and if it is done convincingly, like in the film ‘Memento’, it can be highly intriguing and enthralling.  The first part of the novel seemed very promising.  However, as I was reading the book, I found myself wanting to pick holes in the situation that Watson presents to us.  For a start, Christine’s journal entries are too detailed to be plausible  and are still written in the style of a novel (who has time to write 20+ pages in a day with complete dialogue?).  The fact that nobody checked up on Christine after she was discharged from hospital is also barely believable (but then S. J. Watson did work for the NHS so maybe the catalogue of failings in Christine’s care is based on truth…).  

The writing was a little bland and there was little that was either interesting or likeable about any of the characters.  I suppose this is all part of the confusion that Christine must feel when she has to relearn who they are every day but it means that the characters are never allowed to really develop.  Also, when reading a thriller, I would expect the pace to be set fairly fast but in this book it just wasn’t because Christine has to go over everything again the next day.  Whereas repetitiveness can be charming in ‘Groundhog Day’, it rarely works in a book.   However, the suspense was maintained enough so that I did want to find out what happened to the characters at the end.  After all, the novel is a psychological thriller and if you allow yourself to ignore the plot holes, you will be just as manipulated as Christine about who she can trust.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson

  1. I haven’t finished this yet so don’t know whether what we learn about Christine changes our view of her. Is she an unreliable narrator do you think? We only have her interpretation of events….

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  2. A Little Blog of Books and Other Stuff

    No, it’s not that she’s unreliable… you’ll have to read and find out! I don’t want to give anything away but the ending is pretty far-fetched!

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  3. I was really intrigued by this book when I heard about it, and did want to read it. Do I still want to? Yes, but perhaps I will wait to get it second-hand or through the library.

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  4. I liked this book better than you did, although at times the characters were frustrating and it was difficult to see how she could have been separated so thoroughly from her old life. But I didn’t think the pacing was slow after I got used to the narration and I definitely got drawn into it.

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