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1,128 of 1,183 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Before I Go To Sleep is an excellent psychological thriller. I found myself reading this book into the small hours, and really had to tear myself away from it and go to sleep. It's an unmissable read and I can't recommend it enough.

The book is based around Christine, who loses her memory when she goes to sleep and has to start afresh everytime she wakes up. It's quite thrilling seeing it from her own eyes as each day she wakes up and can't figure out where she is, and everything has to be explained to her by a man who carefully explains to her that he's her husband. She begins to keep a journal, writing down what happens to her each day as recommended by her doctor who calls her each day to remind her of her journal and where it's hidden. Each day she reads what's previously written in her journal, and is extremely confused as she can never remember the previous entries.

As the book progresses you begin to realise something isn't right, and you know who it must involve but you can't figure out why. I had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen next, and it was a brilliant read. I highly recommend this book!
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376 of 407 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 21 February 2011
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I honestly can't gush enough about this book. This is the best debut novel I have ever read - the kind of thriller that gets under your skin and crawls into bed with you at night, refusing to let you shut your eyes until you read just one more page...just one more page....

The premise is a very interesting one. Christine wakes every morning in a strange bed next to a strange man, with no recollection of how she got there. But the bed is her own, and the man is her husband - and when she looks in the mirror she is somehow twenty years older than she had expected. Thanks to an accident when she was 29, Christine goes to sleep every night and has her memory erased. (Yes, this does sound like 50 First Dates, but I assure you that this storyline is darker and more thrilling than a RomCom!) Her loving husband patiently explains her situation to her every day, and her doctor tries to unlock whatever is keeping her memories hostage in her brain. I don't want to give too much away aside from that, but needless to say it emerges that not everyone is telling Christine the whole truth.

This book had me absorbed from the very first chapter. You are immediately drawn into Christine's situation, experiencing her confusion, and imagining yourself in the same nightmare. I don't get as much opportunity to read during the week as I would like, but I managed to read this in two and a half days because I was glued to it. I disagree with the reviewers who said the ending was a little too neat - I sat gasping and exclaiming for the last 60 pages or so, having heart palpitations as the story came together. An absolute must-read and a fantastic achievement for the author - I believe the film rights have already been sold.
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250 of 283 people found the following review helpful
on 22 January 2012
I sometimes wonder whether I am reading the same book as some of these reviewers. The last time I was as disappointed in a book as this was The Da Vinci Code, with which Before I Go to Sleep has much in common.

BIGS is poorly written - 'she turned to him, he turned to her'; I'm amazed they weren't perpetually dizzy - and the inconsistencies and absurdities in the plot were gob-smackingly awful. It reads exactly as it is - a first attempt by someone who has been 'taught' how to write.

SPOILER ALERT - if in spite of this review you still intend buying this book, look away now.

No-one would write in a journal as Chrissy has written - that much detail? No way. Could anyone actually believe that a patient as seriously compromised as this would be allowed to discharge themselves and live without medical supervision? Could you believe that Chrissy could actually have been handed over to 'someone' without any checks being made? Can you believe that a medical professional could behave the way Dr Nash does throughout? Why didn't Adam realise for 4 months that his mother was AWOL? Why, when Claire asked Chrissy to describe Ben, did she first ask about the colour of his hair and not the fact that he had a bloody great SCAR ON HIS CHEEK??? Worst of all, if Claire knew about Chrissy's 'affair', including where they used to meet, why did the police not pursue her lover as a possible culprit in her attack? Clearly they weren't discreet, would he have been so difficult to find?

And there are more - so many more- gaping great flaws, but I wasted time reading it, I don't want to waste any more time reviewing it.

Ok if you've read this far and haven't already bought the book, take my advice - don't. Want a really good 'psychological thriller'? 'We need to Talk About Kevin'
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 March 2015
I had real high hopes for this book, originally I thought that it was based on a true story, but it quite quickly became obvious that it is fiction.

The story is about a woman who is unable to form new memories, and wakes every morning having forgotten the past 20 years of her life. She is encouraged to keep a journal by a Dr that she is meeting with secretly.

I'm going to try to word this in a way that doesn't ruin the outcome for others.
The idea is a great one, but there are so many holes is the way that the story is put together. The journal is meant to be written just before Christine sleeps. and she then read it the next day to remind herself of her own life story.

Firstly, it seems that her husband goes off to work every day and leaves a wife who is vulnerable, has dinner with her and then leaves her alone whilst she writes her journal (remember the journal is a secret)
Christine writes substantial amounts in her journal, and then proceeds to read it all the next day, after being informed by the dr where it is. She would have to spend the whole day just reading and writing. In my view, it would be impossible to adjust to your own situation every day and do that much reading.
Some of the language structure made it obvious that a man wrote this.
The level of detail that Christine writes in her journal is completely unrealistic. Stop reading now if you don't want to know anything of the end ... The journal is destroyed in a fire, and yet the detail is remembered ... minute detail.

The end was actually very predictable, I think that it was meant to be a twist but actually was quite obvious.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 September 2014
A couple of years ago everybody was raving about Before I Go To Sleep. I didn’t read it then, partly because I’m not the biggest fan of crime fiction, partly because of my ever expanding to be read pile, and partly because the last raved about crime novel I remembered reading was The Da Vinci Code- which I have no desire to re-read. My Mum had read it, and my boyfriend and a handful of people from BCF had been very positive about it.

However it wasn’t the positive reviews which made me interested so much as the slight psychological plotline- that of Christine having basically no memory. Either way I was interested enough to go out and buy myself a copy, but when my Mum was sorting out books to get rid of (we have nine bookcases in our 3-up 3-down house, so need all the space we can get!) she put Before I Go To Sleep in the pile, and I moved it to my shelves (along with The Tiger’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry). When I actually got around to reading it I was in the mood for something which would be a quick, easy, but (hopefully) gripping read. I read crime the way other people read chick-lit, it’s more of a relaxed easy read (generally, there is some really good crime out there that you really can’t figure out, and that is more taxing). My Mum’s reaction to it more than anything showed me that Before I Go To Sleep would be what I was looking for.

It was that as well. Gripping enough whilst it lasted, but it didn’t really leave any lingering feelings. I guessed the twist quite early on, which meant that anything else was mainly just confirming my theory, although there were enough little twists on the way to make me want to keep reading for the story itself.

I had a bit of a love hate relationship with Christine. She was just too trusting! I understand that you have to trust someone in that situation, but it wasn’t even that she trusted people she met, she tried to force herself to feel things which she thought she should feel for them, I don’t really understand that.

The story was pretty unique. Which probably puts it above other crime novels of a similar quality. However it was just of standard quality. If you’re a fan of crime novels then you may like this one, but I wouldn’t expect it to live up to hype.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 May 2014
Book Review: Before I Go To Sleep

By S J Watson

Christine awakens in a strange room beside a man she does not recognise. She has no idea how she got there. Even worse, when she goes to the bathroom she believes she is in her twenties until she sees her forty-seven year old self in the mirror.
Photographs show her with the man she has slept beside. He assures her he is her husband, Ben, he loves her and he will take care of her. But, he explains, due to an accident she has lost the ability to remember things for more than a few hours. She can retain information over a day but as soon as she goes to sleep at night her memories are lost, every day starts like this one!
Christine discovers that she has been seeing a doctor without Ben's knowledge. He believes he can help her but Ben insists that it is pointless and cruel to put her through more and more tests and constantly raise false hopes. Dr Nash suggests that she start a journal in which she can record what she learns each day so that she can bring herself up to date by reading it each morning instead of starting each day from scratch. He phones her after her husband goes to work to tell her to get it from its hiding place and read it.
Contradictions start to become apparent. What Ben tells her one day is not necessarily what the journal tells her he has said on another! Christine is confused and desperate to find out the truth about her 'accident' and her life since. But who can she trust?

Before I go to Sleep is a very powerful first novel, a psychological thriller that keeps the reader guessing to the end. The creation of the atmosphere, of fear and vulnerability experienced by Christine is extremely successful. The characters are convincing and plausible. The book engages the reader totally.
I read this as a book-club read or I might have missed it. I was not sure I liked the sound of it but I was so wrong. Brilliant!

Sue Almond

May 2014
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 March 2014
Every morning, Christine Lucas wakes up not knowing a thing about her past. She doesn't remember the husband lying next to her, the house they are living in or what caused her to lose her memory. Every morning, her husband, Ben explains, knowing Christine will have forgotten again by the following day.

But then Christine starts to see Dr Nash, and the pair slowly start to make progress with Christine's memory, piecing together fragments of her past.

Before I Go To Sleep has been waiting on my kindle for a long time but, as the film will be released soon, I thought it was about time I read it. I've heard lots of great things about the book, so I wasn't surprised when I was immediately hooked, drawn into Christine's bewildering world of lost memories. I was so desperate to find out what had happened to Christine that I read the whole thing in a day!

I immediately felt for Christine as she tries to adjust day after day. She doesn't remember anyone - friends, family or even her husband, Ben, which must be so frightening and frustrating. I wasn't sure how Christine's story would be told - would we see her waking up each day and having to learn everything from scratch, which would have been quite repetitive? - but I thought it was quite clever how the story was put across in a more fast-paced way. Almost right from the beginning, we know something isn't quite right, so I was keen to keep reading to see how the story would unfold and what memories Christine had lurking at the surface.

I thought the book was a fantastic read, with plenty of twists and intrigue to keep you guessing and turning the pages. And now I can't wait for the film!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson is a psychological thriller with a clever but potentially restrictive concept behind it: Christine, the narrator, is suffering from a severe form of memory loss that causes her to wake up each morning with no memory of the day before. Now 47, she can remember nothing past her early 20s. Every day, she awakes horrified to see her middle-aged self in the mirror and to find herself living with Ben, a husband she doesn't recognise, in a house she's never seen.

If this sounds rather limiting, don't worry. Watson gets round the issue of Christine's short term memory by having her write a journal every day at the suggestion of the mysterious Dr Nash, who calls her daily to remind her where it's hidden, and it's this journal that makes up a large portion of the novel and which Christine uses to piece together what's been happening to her over the previous days. And written on the first page, in large capital letters, are the words 'DON'T TRUST BEN'.

Before I Go To Sleep is a tense, claustrophobic read with a heroine in an almost unbearably vulnerable position, trying to piece together decades of her own life from scraps of conflicting information from people who, despite their claims to know her, might just as well be strangers. To make matters worse, Christine knows she's suffered from paranoia in the past along with her memory loss, and may not be an objective judge of other's motives. But despite Christine's necessary vulnerability, she makes a strong and complex heroine and certainly one who is not without flaws. Watson manages to build enough interest into her character to prevent her from becoming merely a damsel in distress.

The central mystery is whether Ben is withholding certain facts from his wife for some sinister reason, or whether he is desperately trying to protect her from reliving past traumas - and if so, what those traumas might be. Ben himself is largely presented by necessity as an average Joe trying to make the best of a difficult situation; he's neither pantomime villain nor saintly carer. There's also Ed Nash, Christine's doctor, who seems keen to encourage Christine to keep secrets, and we find ourselves questioning his motives too. Unfortunately, Dr Nash isn't a particularly well-drawn character and his blandness does nothing to add to the potential intrigue. This struck me as rather a wasted opportunity.

Although Before I Go To Sleep kept me turning the pages with increasing nervous tension right to the end, this really is a novel where you have to suspend disbelief. There are far too many convenient coincidences and the way certain red herrings are explained away at the end is irritatingly lazy; it's easy to pick holes in the plot, particularly as the story comes to its end. I'm also not sure how much of a 'twist' I think the ending really is, although whether this really matters is debatable.

Overall, though, Before I Go To Sleep is a cleverly-structured thriller with a convincing protagonist - I found it surprisingly easy to imagine myself in Christine's shoes, although there are times when it's hard to approve of some of the choices she makes. If you're prepared to put aside misgivings about the realism of certain aspects of the story and you're looking for a page-turner, you could certainly do worse than this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 August 2012
Most of us recognise the feeling of blissful unawareness that swamps us for those few seconds of transition between absent consciousness and wakefulness as our brain slowly gets into gear. We begin to recollect our circumstances, and we take for granted that we will remember all those important details of the previous days, weeks, months and years. Yet, what if we forgot? What if our mind pressed reset instead of resume? Would we still be the person who had gone to sleep?

Ultimately the answer is no, as we are merely a sum of our experiences. If an integral incident is taken away then we cease to be the complete whole. That is not to say that what remains would be a lesser person, we forget things all the time ("Darling, are your sure today is our anniversary?") and will continue to do so until our dying day; yet, losing great chunks of your life and experiences would render it extremely difficult to be able to lay claim to still be the same individual you were. George Orwell once wrote about the sensation of seeing a photograph of yourself as a child and asked what you had in common, `Nothing, except that you are the same person.'

Arguably, the people most affected by memory loss are those immediately surrounding the sufferer - think of the love and devotion that relatives give to their family members that suffer with Alzheimer's or dementia. It is highly unlikely that their relative will regain any of their lost memories (imagine a computer drive wiping itself in an often random and unreadable pattern) and most will have to go through the heartbreaking situation of one day being unrecognised and having to start over from the beginning, whilst they are lucky enough that cognitive recognition still exists with their companion. And they keep going back. They keep going back because of love for the person that used to be, the person that they occasionally see a glimpse of, whether that be during a singsong, a laugh, or even something as simple as the way they hold themselves. To me, this was what I wanted, and for the most part believed, the central focus of S. J. Watson's debut novel to be.

The story is mainly told firsthand through the journal of Christine Lucas who wakes up every day believing she is aged anywhere between her late teens and her mid-twenties. In reality she is forty-seven. The journal, started upon recommendation by her doctor, is an attempt to be able to piece together her shattered life. Amnesia itself is not a new subject, it has been a central focus of many books and films, and thus the main acknowledgment for Watson is his ability to write as a woman. (For the first few chapters, until my mother put me right, I took it as read that the author was, like the novel's protagonist, female.) However, I demur with the author on his choice of direction. I feel that Before I Go to Sleep could have been a beautiful love story, a classic, but Watson evidently bored and decided to introduce a psychological thriller aspect. He has recently admitted that he "didn't know what I was going to do until I did it, " and in doing so he rewrote and edited parts of his already complete manuscript to make it fit the new parameters. The result is that, unfortunately, in parts it is clear where pieces have been patched together. For example, every day the actions of the man Christine wakes up with, a man calling himself Ben who actually turns out to be the psychologically deranged Mike, are of someone in love and are seemingly quite logical. Then he hits her with a plate on page 318. Before this the narrative had run with little to no formal sign of a rational disorder and I would hazard a guess that this is where Watson tired. It is such a shame, it would have been a wonderful book had Christine discovered everything was done out of love, and that Ben/Mike/whoever was suffering too being a full-time carer with a deceased son, friends moved away, and no outlet except work friends. That would have been a story which can be told the world over by millions, familiar to all.

Watson began writing during his spell at the Faber Academy in 2009 and for the duration of this period his only source of income was the National Health Service, an organisation not known for its high salaries. Thus, the possibility that the book was written for financial gain can be forgiven, we are all human and even the most famous authors have written with a mass audience in mind and possibly even the idea of a film. This leads to the question of whether the book would have featured on the bestseller list (both sides of the Atlantic, I might add) had it been written in another way? One look at the number one at the time, Fifty Shades of Grey, hints that maybe a bit of marital/sexual violence was/still is the flavour of the month. How depressing.

Nonetheless, for the most part, I did enjoy Watsons's first foray into literature. The last few pages were riveting, even if they did belong in a separate book. I shall read it again, if only to try to appreciate it for what it is, not what it should have been. And I shall see the Ridley Scott produced film in the hope that he rescues the project. It should come as no surprise that Watson has announced his next book will be "another psychological thriller," not a love story. I hope that this time he sticks with the project until its conclusion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 February 2012
Without giving too much of the plot away (because there isn't a lot of it, to be totally truthful), Chrissy awakes one morning believing she's a young woman only to find that she's in her 40s, with no recall of the intervening years, and no memories of the man in the bed next to her. Each day her husband, Ben, explains to her that she was in an accident and is suffering from amnesia, and each night she goes to sleep and her memory is wiped again. A doctor encourages her to write a journal each day, and the bulk of the book is taken up with her journal entries, as each day she writes down everything she has learned about her past, reads it the following morning, and gradually begins to piece together her life and what has happened to her.

I found the writing style quite stilted and uninvolving for large chunks of the book. Whether this was intentional or not, I'm not sure, but I found it difficult to connect with any of the small number of characters in the book as a result. Chrissy herself is problematic because she is not sure who she is for 90% of the story. Watson keeps the repetition to a minimum, thankfully, but there were a lot of times where I felt the answers were obvious but the characters weren't seeing it - it was almost like the author was making them deliberately obtuse just to pad the story out a bit. To my mind, it may have worked better as a short story or novella.

I thought it really got going at about three quarters of the way through, for spoilery reasons which I shan't mention here, and even though the final couple of twists were obvious from much earlier in the book, they were handled pretty well when they eventually came to happen. For a thriller it maybe lacks a few thrills, but it's enjoyable enough. And as a debut novel this isn't bad, but I do think the hype-machine has worked against it, at least for me.
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