Jennifer's Reviews > Before I Go To Sleep

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson
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's review
Feb 20, 12

bookshelves: mystery, thriller
Read in October, 2011

Book Description

Here is the description from Amazon that hooked me:

Every day Christine wakes up not knowing where she is. Her memories disappear every time she falls asleep. Her husband, Ben, is a stranger to her, and he’s obligated to explain their life together on a daily basis—all the result of a mysterious accident that made Christine an amnesic. With the encouragement of her doctor, Christine starts a journal to help jog her memory every day. One morning, she opens it and sees that she’s written three unexpected and terrifying words: “Don’t trust Ben.” Suddenly everything her husband has told her falls under suspicion. What kind of accident caused her condition? Who can she trust? Why is Ben lying to her? And, for the reader: Can Christine’s story be trusted?

My Thoughts

The description immediately reminded me of the excellent movie Memento, which was a mind-bending thriller about a man with amnesia who cannot make new memories but is trying to solve the murder of his wife with a series of notes, tattoos and photos that he uses as clues. I adored Memento (even though it gave me a big fat headache trying to follow it), and Before I Go To Sleep sounded similar. I’m glad to report that the book mostly lived up to my expectations. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down. I had to know what was really going on. Although the ending didn’t quite live up to what I was hoping for (but how often do they?), the ride was totally worth it.

The book is told from Christine’s point of view so we get information about her situation at the same time Christine does, which I thought was an effective way to write the book. Watson keeps up the pace throughout and does a good job of keeping you in suspense—making for a fast and exciting read.

However, the ending had some issues that might leave some readers feeling disgruntled and underwhelmed. I can’t help but think if Watson had just added one more sentence at the very end, it would have made for a brilliant ending. (If you’re curious about the sentence, let me know in the comments and I’ll e-mail it to you.) Still, it was a better than average thriller that got my blood pumping and kept me reading later than I should have. I also have to give Watson props as this is his debut novel, and I think he picked a difficult premise to pull off. I suspect that if you think about the specifics too much, the whole thing might fall apart so don’t think too much while reading. Just go with the flow and you’ll find yourself whipping through this book in no time.

Recommended For

Fans of mysteries and thrillers that offer psychological suspense up the wazoo.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Ozum Akanser just finished the book, so I would love to hear the sentence you wished the author added at the end..


Jennifer Ozum wrote: "just finished the book, so I would love to hear the sentence you wished the author added at the end.."

I think he should have ended the book something along the lines of:


I wake up. The bedroom is strange. Unfamiliar. I don't know where I am, how I came to be here. I don't know how I'm going to get home.


HA! This is the first few lines of the beginning of the book! She loses it ALL!!!!! She remembers nothing!! I thought he should have decided one way or another -- and it would have been better if she didn't remember anything at all! Brilliant in a twisted and awful way.

That is my opinion at least. What do you think? How did you want it to end?


Ozum Akanser Thanks for sharing!
I think I would want him to finish it in a positive note, after all the ups and downs and the mind games..
So I would prefer something like "I open my eyes, I don't know where I am. I hear noises downstairs and when I went there I saw the back of 3 people sitting on the couch, and when one of them turned and said , 'oh you are awake' it just all came back at me, Adam, Ben, Helen.. My family.."

Kind of cliche =)) but something happy..


Jennifer Ozum wrote: "Thanks for sharing!
I think I would want him to finish it in a positive note, after all the ups and downs and the mind games..
So I would prefer something like "I open my eyes, I don't know where I..."


Yours is perfect if you want a happy ending!! I'm perverse in that I like the unhappy difficult ending. To each his own, right? Still, I think the author should have committed to an ending instead of us writing them. Thanks for sharing with me!


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