Saturday, June 18, 2011

Book Review - Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

Title: Before I Go to Sleep 
Author: S.J. Watson
Year: 2011
Page: 368
Genre: Fiction - Murder / Mystery / Thriller / Suspense

FTC Disclosure: ARC copy from HarperCollins in exchange for an unbiased review

Summary (from
'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.

First Sentence:
The Bedroom is Strange.

My Thoughts:

Why this book?
  • I like creepy psychological thriller! 
First thought:
  • Lots of potential, but could be better... 
Cover Art:
  • I really liked it - the black part of the cover (at least from my ARC) is actually detached, and the actual image of the cover is a full length shot of the woman looking into the foggy mirror. Fit the book really well!
  • Fitting as well
  • It was easy to read
  • The premise definitely was intriguing. Some compared to Momento (I couldn't quite remember if I had watched this or not - which was quite ironic since both the movie dealt with memory loss lol - checked with my husband and we did watch it. I had wanted to watch it for a long time, and now I remember I was a bit disappointed because it wasn't as good as I had expected). It also reminded me a bit of 50 First Dates (though of course this book is not a romantic comedy.)
  • The 2nd part of the book - which was Christine's diary - I think could have been a bit faster. It felt a bit redundant - I got that she had to start each day from scratch, but it got tiresome after reading it for the 50th time (okay I am exaggerating,  but you got the picture when each chapter started off almost the same.) In contrast, the big reveal seemed to happen a bit too fast, so the story's pacing seemed a bit off.
  • The big twist in the story - I suspected that all along so it didn't give me the big a-ha moment. It was merely confirmed... I guess once you read a lot of this genre, you are likely to guess what the twists are. I still kept reading though to see if I was right, so that's a good sign. 
  • I think we got a good sense of who Christine was (at least the Christine who lost her memory). I could feel her fear when she woke up everyday not knowing who she was, or when she found out new details of her old life
  • Apart from Christine though, I didn't think the other characters were quite as well developed, but I supposed this was Christine's story and was told from her perspective, which was a flawed perspective
  • I thought the ending was a bit ambiguous. I wish it wasn't, but then again I never liked ambitious endings so it wasn't just this book.
  • I wasn't as scared as I thought it would be. Though I couldn't imagine how I'd behave or react if I was Christine - waking up everyday not knowing where I was - THAT is a scary thought. 
What I Learned:
  • I still don't like ambiguous endings! 
  • I think this book would have been stronger if the middle part was edited a bit so this would be a faster paced thriller. But not bad for a debut author!
  • The back of the ARC said Ridley Scott had bought the move rights already! I think this might actually turn into a good movie since they would have to edit down the plot, so it might become faster pace. Who should play Christine? For some reasons I kept thinking Jodie Foster, but I forgot if she was Christine's age. Christine might be younger than Foster. If you had read the book - what do you think? Who would you cast?
Read this Author again?
  • Likely, depending on the premise!

Overall Rating:
3.5 Stars. Has a lot of potential, but also has some room for improvement.

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  1. I'm going to be starting this one soon! I know what you mean by ambiguous endings - many of these memory loss thrillers seem to depend on that, which is sad. It's good to have some closure.

  2. I really want to read this one. I have been really into thrillers recently, so I can't imagine not liking this one.

  3. @Aths - I know some people like ambiguous endings, but I need closure :) It does provide closure for the most part, but not 100%... which is still better than some other endings I'd read I guess.

    @reviewsbylola - can't wait to see what you think! It does have pretty good reviews overall I think.

  4. I just finished it Christa and wasn't impressed, thinking about my review, I am between 3 and 3 1/2.

    Repetition, not being surprised or ever feeling like it was a thriller or mystery is my issue, felt like an adult fiction.

    I would have recommended to you though because of the psychological part.

  5. @Marce - I was also toying between 3 and 3.5. I do like the premise about amnesia. I just wish it was written as a thriller/mystery rather than an adult fiction like you said (that is why I try to avoid books that said "A Novel" after its title. Been burnt too many times thinking it's a thriller but not!) I do like the psychological aspect of it, just wish it was executed differently.

  6. Thanks for the comment on my review! I really liked the book, but I don't read many psychological thrillers, so maybe it just had enough zip to grab me. I like your analysis.

  7. @Unruly Reader - Thanks! I guess since I read the thriller/mystery/suspense genre quite a bit, I just get more picky about these books since there are lots of comparison!