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Friday, February 24, 2012

Before I Go To Sleep A Riveting Story, Brilliantly Told

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

"I know I'll go to sleep tonight, and then tomorrow I will wake up and not know anything again, and the next day, and the day after that, forever. I can't imagine it. I can't face it. It's not life, it's just an existence, jumping from one moment to the next with no idea of the past, and no pan for the future. It's how I imagine animals must be. The worst thing is that I don't even know what I don't know. There might be lots of things, waiting to hurt me. Things I haven't even dreamed about yet" (194).

Imagine waking up every day not recognizing your surroundings—not your home, not your possessions, not even your husband. Imagine having to relearn everything, every single day. Imagine relying on other people to explain who you are, where you've been, and what you've done in a life you can no longer recall. This is reality for 47-year-old Christine Lucas, who's suffered from amnesia ever since an accident knocked out her memory. Now, she must rely on a man she doesn't know—despite the fact that she's been married to him for 22 years—to help her remember herself. Even if it's just for one day.

When Christine finds the diary she's been secretly keeping—and forgetting—every day, she discovers that things are not exactly what they seem. As she combs through both the diary entries and the blurry memories floating through her damaged mind, Christine realizes she can trust nothing, no one, maybe not even herself. Trapped in a terrifying world where nothing makes any sense, she must figure out who she is and who she's not, what is true and what is not, what really happened to her and what did not. And she has to do it now, today, before she goes to sleep and forgets everything ...

As you can tell, it's difficult to describe Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson without giving away too much. The book doesn't even have a real back cover blurb. I'm not sure how to discuss it in a way that's spoiler-free, so I'll just say that I loved this taut psychological thriller. Watson builds the story slowly, almost painstakingly, making sure the reader feels Christine's confusion, fear and helplessness. As she puts her life together, piece by piece, the suspense grows, exploding into a tense, thrilling conclusion. Before I Go To Sleep is, quite simply, a riveting story, brilliantly told. Only two words more: Read it.

(Readalikes: I can't think of anything. Can you?)

Grade: A-

If this were a movie, it would be rated: R for strong language, sexual content and violence

To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Before I Go To Sleep from the generous folks at Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours.


  1. We liked this book too--really good and what an ending!

    Here's the link to our review of it:

  2. So I haven't read it. But the write-up you did reminds me of one of my favorite scary movies (which is saying a lot, because I DO NOT like scary movies) Gaslight starring the gorgeous Ingrid Bergman and the nefarious Charles Boyer. Netflix it. You'll be glad. And I'll read this. Then we'll both be scared. :)

    (Oh, Blogger. I hate the new Word-veri. So much.)

  3. K & G - I'm glad you enjoyed it, too. It really is creepy and suspenseful, isn't it? And SO hard to discuss without giving away all its secrets!

    Becca - It's a deal! I love old movies, so I'll definitely check out Gaslight. Oh, and I just found out - via K & G's blog - that BEFORE I SAY GOODBYE is being made into a movie. Yay!

  4. I recently picked this one up from the library. I'm looking forward it - even more now that I've read your review!

    (I don't understand why I can't ever get the word verification right the first time!)

  5. I thought this was good but not great. I couldn't get passed going sleep every day. I also figured out the big wow.

    Good debut I would read more by author.

  6. Alison - Enjoy!

    Marce - Really? I liked this one a lot, but the thing about psychological thrillers is that usually, no matter how obvious the "truth" is, I NEVER see it. Afterward, I always say, "Duh. I should have seen that coming." But, while I'm reading/watching? Nope!

  7. Wow, this appeals to me....what a terrifying malady to have to endure. But...I do love a book with a twist and an unexpected temptress, you!

    Thanks for sharing.

  8. I read this and LOVED IT.

    I feel you that it's so hard to write about without giving anything away - because the reveals within the plot are everything.

    Between the unreliable narrator and Christine not being the perfect person, I ADORED this book. So much. It did cause me to cringe at points, but so worth it.

  9. Yay! So glad you loved it! I really liked it too, and I'm SO PUMPED for the movie! Even knowing the ending I think I'm still going to be on the edge of my seat!

    Thanks for being on this tour!

  10. Oh my goodness I just finished the audio on this one. I definitely cannot handle Thrillers. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.Felt as anxious as Christine every time I turned it on. And did NOT see that end coming.

    My biggest complaint is on how many F-words were used. Would be too embarrassed to recommend this book to my friends.


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