Before I go to Sleep: S J Watson

I love to read the book review sections in magazines, with the overly complimentary and repetitive remarks and clichés. Probably the worst is, ‘I couldn’t put it down,’ but probably surprisingly it is the one I look for most If a book takes over the reader so much they cannot bear to put it down that is a book I want…no need to read! And if you’re the same this book is 100% for you!

This book immediately places you in a feeling of unease. Even the front cover, that eye that followed me around my room as it sat unopened in my cluttered bedroom. The story revolved around the main character Chris, who has suffered a serious head trauma and she now finds it impossible to retain a memory of anything. Every time she shuts her eyes all the memories are erased leaving her a blank canvas; no memories of her family, friends, or even where she lives. Every morning she wakes in a panic as her memory is unable to recreate the memories she has just made. However, all is not as it seems, Chris has begun to see a doctor and she is starting to uncover the truth that is locked in her inability to remember. Chris begins to recover the truth through keeping a diary. Each day she reads what is happening in life and begins to get a hold on her own life. However there is a disturbing secret lying inside the front cover of the diary. Scrawled across the first page is “Don’t Tell Ben!” What is the secret hidden in her lost memory, and why should she not even trust her husband?

The book is written in a clever diary format, as if we learning the secrets of her history in sync with character, and allows us to fully understand how she is feeling. No extra information is given throughout the novel and instead we as a reader have to grasp at straws to work out the mystery of the story. The story has a recurring tone of desperation as the main character struggles to find her feet. The feeling of being lost and unease is brilliantly written into the tone of the book, which continually kept me racing to turn the final pages. I will be honest; I half guessed the ending; as the final conclusion came to its final climax the plot clicked and I finally understood only pages before the final scene. However this did not take anything away from the final ending. However saying this I didn’t get the ending perfectly and that is the true brilliance of the novel! Although we learn and discover alongside Chris, the final pinnacle of the narrative is never completely revealed until the final…. final page is turned.

In terms of characters they are fully explored and are full-bodied allowing the reader to fully empathise and understand the narrative, and especially Chris is perfectly portrayed. She is honest and frail with a hint of desperation, but this is contrasted beautifully with her strength and need for answers and discovery. Dr Nash is also extremely well formed as a character. It always concerns me when I cannot properly formulate a character in my mind, however Dr Nash is a gentle and passive character, his want and need to help Chris is genuine and the guilt that he feels that cannot miraculously bring her memories back creates a strong tug on the reader’s emotions. Ben, Chris’s husband is less explored to create the unease that Chris cannot remember and gives the darker edge to the narrative. His gentle but unresponsive personality continues the tension, as he does not appear to be emotionally affected by his wife’s distress as she struggles to remember.

I am always true to the letter about the books that I read and then review and this one will be no different. I was captured by this runaway train of a thrilling mysterious novel and was swept away by the dramatic climax. I remember when I finally finished the book; I had just got off the train from a ten day holiday in Ibiza with a group of friends, on the plane home, slightly hungover and extremely tired I was racing to finish before my eyes finally closed! Personally I couldn’t put it down!

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One thought on “Before I go to Sleep: S J Watson

  1. Jaime Shine says:

    Thanks for the review! I had heard of this title before, and now it’s definitely on my reading list. Now I just have to go cross a few more off until I can get to it… 🙂

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