03 March 2014

Review: Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

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.

My Thoughts

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.


  1. Nikki @ Foil the PLotMarch 4, 2014 at 12:15 AM

    I don't blame you for waiting so long to pick this one up --- I should probably do the same with a few overly hyped books I've got my eye on right now. Expectation is killer in that regard.

    I like that this is like the movie 50 First Dates only told in a more foreboding way. I can definitely see why it's so hard to connect to the MC but it sounds like you are able to at least sympathise with her situation.

  2. I bought this AGES ago, but then there was a whole string of books about
    amnesia, memory, etc. and I just couldn't face reading another one at
    the time. I'm glad you liked it though and I think I'm ready to pick it
    up soon! :)



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