Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson
Published: 14 June 2011 by Harper Collins
Pages: 359 (hardcover)
Genre/s: Adult, Psychological, Thriller
Source: Own library
'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.
Before I Go To Sleep has sat on my bookshelves for several years, mainly because I was waiting for the hype to die down before I read it. I don't often read best-sellers, and when I do I try and wait until not everyone in the world is carrying a copy around with them before I pick it up.
It's a psychological thriller, but it also poses a lot of interesting ethical questions. Christine wakes up every single day with no memory of the last twenty-odd years of her life, and has to rely on the people around her to be completely honest and open with her, and that itself was the first thing that struck me about this book. How do you actually trust people that you don't remember knowing? How do you determine who is trustworthy, who has your best interests at heart, who loves you enough to not screw you over?
Before I Go To Sleep relies heavily on characterisation to drive the book as there really isn't a lot of action in the first half - it's more setting the scene than actually progressing the story, but it's also understandable given the plot centers around a character who has no memory of the day before. The negative of that is I found Christine really hard to like as a character - I sympathised with her struggle, but because she didn't really know herself, I couldn't get to know her either.
It was really the last third of the book I enjoyed the most, and Watson definitely writes a good psychological thriller - as more of Christine's life is revealed, it becomes difficult to determine what is right and what is wrong as a reader, let alone for Christine - and that's the most striking part of Before I Go To Sleep - it had me questioning my interpretation of what I had read, and actually starting to think I was the one imagining things.
Before I Go To Sleep probably won't be making any of my favourites lists, but it was an addictive read, particularly when it really started to pick up on the pacing and unravelling of the layers of Christine's life.