Before I go to Sleep


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.

Synopsis from goodreads

Oh, how much I wanted to like this book. I’d heard so much about it on so many book blogs that I think my expectations were overly inflated by all the hype.

Because I found this book just about OK, but nowhere near hype-worthy like other similar books such as Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, and so on, and just don’t understand all the rave reviews surrounding it.

What is the Book About?

Christine suffers from a rare sort of amnesia. She cannot retain or make any new memories since a traumatic incident fifteen or so years in the past. Now, she lives a day-to-day life entirely dependent on her husband Ben, whom she doesn’t know whether to trust or not.

My Review Without Spoilers

This is a slow boil of a book. It takes ages for Christine the main character of the book to understand anything at all, it seems. And when she does, she promptly forgets everything the very next day and has to start from scratch, understanding who she is, and how she came to be in this situation.

More than 50% of the book is about her remembering past events, writing it down in her diary, then forgetting it next morning, then reading the diary, and remembering a little more, and so on. While in theory, the amnesia plot premise works fantastic, in actuality this endless repetition of routine and facts gets very monotonous.

Thankfully the third half of the book saves it somewhat, bringing in some much-needed action.

However, at no point did I have that suspenseful, nail-biting experience that I was expecting. Have you seen the movie Memento? This is probably one of my all-time favorite movies dealing with amnesia, and I still remember that heart-pounding tension that the protagonist’s memory loss generated within me. That was the sort of feeling I expected to get when I read this book, and I am terribly disappointed at just how meh the tension and suspense is.

For a start, I guessed the twist in the book pretty early on but continued reading hoping there would be further twists or that I would be proved wrong. Unfortunately that was not the case, so the ending didn’t wring my guts or anything remotely close.

I am pretty good at guessing plot twists, but in this book, the twist is ridiculously easy, The thing is, when you have only three major characters in a book, and one of them is the bad guy, it’s pretty hard not to guess what is going to happen. I am a bit surprised that this book is even labeled as a thriller frankly.

Some Spoilers Here

Here is the main reason this book didn’t work for me. Christine – the protagonist is such a downer. I just couldn’t identify with her or even like her not even a wee bit. The majority of the book is spent within her head, and when the character did not resonate with me at all, it’s no wonder I didn’t adore the book either.

Why didn’t I like Christine? Umm, maybe because she’s probably the dumbest character I’ve ever read, and this is before she got her amnesia. The choices she makes, and her decisions to repeatedly trust someone who has proved himself untrustworthy had me face-palming my way throughout the book. If silly heroines annoy you, stay far away from this one.

Last Thoughts

That’s not to say this is a bad book. This is S.J.Watson’s debut novel, and he proves himself as an adept writer. A plot so threadbare would have been downright terrible in less skilled hands. I am hoping that his second book is a lot stronger than this one.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Do you feel hype sometimes spoils a book for later readers?

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You can also purchase a copy of this book from Amazon

  • I didn’t like this book either. I didn’t find it very suspenseful either and I wasn’t a fan of the writing. And Memento is such an amazing movie!!

    • Nishita

      @@athirac:disqus I know, Memento rocks! The book on the other hand? So dumb, and I thought the amnesia thing wasn’t handled that well at all.

  • All totally fair criticisms, and now you’ve reminded me how important it is for me to revisit the movie Memento. God that was an excellent movie. And also, what’d we do to Carrie-Anne Moss? Why isn’t she in stuff anymore! I like her! Emily Blunt has replaced her, it seems like, and I don’t get why there’s not room for both of them.

    • Nishita

      @readingtheend:disqus I always think of Carrie-Anne Moss as the one who is willing to walk away from work that doesn’t interest her. She seems to just pop in and out of movies doesn’t she? At least I hope that’s the case.It would be too bad if she’s not getting work 🙁

  • I remember liking this one, but it was so long ago now, that I’m not very clear on it anymore. I wish I could remember better what Christine was like – interesting that you had such a strong reaction to her.

    • Nishita

      @disqus_TYO2upw2ie:disqus I think the hype monster destroyed my enjoyment. I was really expecting something edge of the seat, but this didn’t quite do that. Also, I took a couple of breaks in between reading it, that might have also killed it.

  • bermudaonion(Kathy)

    I haven’t heard too much about this book but heard the movie made from it wasn’t great. I think I’ll skip the book and the movie.

    • Nishita

      @@bermudaonion_kathy:disqus With such a thin plot, I would be quite surprised if the movie was good. Still there’s Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth, I quite like them as actors. If it ever comes on TV, I would watch, just to see what they do with this material.

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