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!
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.
on 21 September 2014
I honestly don't know what all the fuss is about. I found it boring, repetitive and confusing, far from keeping the pages turning I really wasn't bothered about how it ended and abandoned it 3/4 of the way through.
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'
on 12 June 2013
I didn't hate it, but I didn't like it. Boring, repetitive, monotonous. I persevered - honest - but by a third of the way through I couldn't stand another re-telling of the main character's life since an accident which had caused her a severe form of amnesia. She couldn't remember, and I wasn't bothered. Talk about drawn out. And so unbelievable. For hours on end she would disappear upstairs to write a daily secret journal and not once (in the first third anyway) did her husband wonder where she'd disappeared to! She had furtive phone calls from a doctor who her husband didn't approve of. And hubby never accidentally walked in on these chats. As you may have surmised, I skipped great chunks of the second third, but I couldn't even bring myself to do that in the final third. Gave up. Was her husband the villain of the piece? Who cares? I didn't.
A weak plot and self-indulgent twaddle.
on 28 February 2016
I really don't understand why this got all the kudos it did. Predictable storyline with an ending that was signposted in flashing neon from the get-go; the whole who was - or wasn't - whom mystery was rendered wholly unmysterious long before the big 'reveal', not because of the clues scattered through the pages, but because the writing just wasn't strong enough to carry the secrets convincingly.
The characters (even those that weren't conveniently stripped of memory as an aid to avoid any actual depth) were unconvincing and one-dimensional and their motivations unsupported by their actions. There was far too much telling in place of showing going on. To a degree that made sense and fitted with Christine's character: we have to rely on her empty history and the snippets of it passed out in the same way that she does, but there was nothing that convinced me that Ben, Claire, Adam, and Dr. Nash would have behaved the way that they did - or rather didn't.
It also suffered from the same annoying flaw that seems to crop up all the time in books comprised of, or containing substantial chunks of, diary entries or letters: too much superfluous information. It's there because the novel's author wants us as readers to know it but it wouldn't actually be there in letters or diary entries because it is either already known to, or would be insignificant to, the in-story writer. The cop-out excuse in this one would undoubtedly be that the book centered around Christine's journal and in this case she DID need to tell herself things that one would not need to record in normal circumstances but it still didn't work. There were just far too many words in those entries, particularly given that the journal was usually meant to have been written in a hurried secrecy.
And the ending? So deus ex machina I'd have laughed if I hadn't been so irked by having wasted my time reading it at that point. Magically, everything and everyone comes together, and the loose ends are tidily tied and we get as close to a happy-ever-after as possible? Balls to that. Cheap and lazy conclusion!
Not the worst thing I've ever read by a long shot but I genuinely can't think of a single thing I actually enjoyed about it except shutting it for the final time!
on 21 July 2015
I galloped through this pacy and taut psychological thriller in one cold and rainy day. It’s a great achievement for a first novel, which arose from the author’s participation in the first Faber Academy Writing a Novel course. The device of the narrator, Christine Lucas, having two separate streams – the present voice and the extracts from her written journal – interwoven together works brilliantly, and keeps up a terrific pace, so the reader is never quite sure of what the outcome will be. The narrator has suffered from what we’re told initially is a hit and run accident leaving her with long term memory loss, so that each day for many years now she has woken not knowing where she is or who she’s with, needing to be reminded of her past. Each morning, she’s convinced she’s a young woman, only to find she’s approaching middle age – a constant nightmare, both for her and apparently for her devoted, long-suffering husband Ben who each day afresh reminds her of his name, their joint past, their present home (which feels like an alien environment to her). The bathroom has photos of them together in much earlier and happier times, and of her separately at various points over her lifetime.
Christine’s world is being shaken up, seemingly, by the interest of a young neurologist (Dr Keen) who has recently taken a keen (ha!) interest in her case and decided to try to drag long-lost memories out of her brain’s dustier filing cabinets so that she can start again to live from day to day instead of taking each day separately. The descriptions of medical treatments aimed at retrieving her lost memories were well written, and the horror that is lying in a full scanner unable to move and clutching an alarm buzzer while being subjected to noises so loud that one can’t think was brilliantly drawn. There were plenty of clues as to which way the plot was going to twist (oh yes, there’s a big twist), often in descriptions of meals.
But I can’t help feeling disbelief that a neurologist would have involved himself to such an extent that he was driving out to collect Christine for appointments, and arranging for her to visit houses where she’d lived prior to her memory loss. What about his other patients? Were they simply put on hold? Particularly in these stretched times for the NHS, no neurologist (or other specialist) I’ve ever encountered would have the time, let alone the ability to devote so much time to a single case, no matter how fascinating.
I also felt that there was a real psychological flaw to the whole plot. I really couldn’t believe in any of the characters other than the narrator herself. I couldn’t credit that the men involved at the heart of the book would have behaved as they did, particularly over such an extended period of time. Had it been a five-year time frame from Christine’s initial accident to the present, I’d have gone along with the men’s behaviour far more readily, although clearly she would have felt considerably less shocked to be waking up each morning to see an older woman looking back at her from the bathroom mirror. But it didn’t feel credible that it would have continued for a period of around two decades. That’s at the root of the problem with this novel for me – for it to work at all from the point of Christine a long time has to have passed, but it then didn’t work from the point of view of other characters. There were also two major “accidents” which Christine survived and in both cases the details of how she’s escaped death are glossed over. So, although I greatly enjoyed Before I Go To Sleep, I did feel it had weaknesses. It felt a bit like an old-fashioned Chinese take-away meal of a book to me – very enjoyable at the time of consumption but afterwards rather unsatisfactory.
on 29 April 2015
I started this book with high expectations given all the hype that has preceded it and, overall, I wasn't disappointed and I want to thank Netgalley and the publisher, Random House UK/Transworld Publishing, for my copy in return for an unbiased review.
The story centres around and is told by the main character, Christine. I won’t bore you with a detailed outline of the story as this has already been done by others and the description sets it out in a nutshell.
The overall concept of the story is interesting and engaging. I have seen a few reviews that criticise the author for not being accurate in respect of the type of amnesia or the plausibility and inconsistencies of the story but I found it compulsive and captivating. Is this likely to happen in real life … probably not; are there parts of the book that just happen to fall conveniently into place … yes … but did it keep me reading and going back for more …. yes it did.
The pace and style of writing made it easy to read and I felt the author captured Christine’s absolute fear and confusion every morning on waking and the trials and tribulations she went through to find out what happened to her extremely well. I went along for the ride and enjoyed trying to work things out in tandem with Christine. The penny dropped for me quite quickly but this didn't ruin the ending which was full of action and tension and I liked seeing how the story unfolded for Christine.
The characters are interesting and complex but I did find them a little bit lacking in brain cells at times and not reacting in a way that I would expect. I would like to give some examples here but I don’t want to give away any spoilers to those that are yet to read this book, I will just let you find them yourselves.
I admit that this book isn't the best psychological thriller/mystery that I have read but I was still entertained and I would recommend it to anyone who likes reading these types of books but don’t expect anything too scary or dark.
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.
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!