Before I Go to Sleep

Before I Go To SleepBefore I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Caution: Review may contain spoilers.

I waffled between 2 and 3 stars for this book. It was okay, but mainly because I can tolerate more flaws in audiobooks where I would quickly lose patience reading it. It’s an okay story. The premise is intriguing and it started out very well. The author sets up the story of a woman who doesn’t know who she is, but apparently she has been keeping a journal. She is seeing a doctor who calls her on a cellphone that he gave her and tells her where she keeps the journal hidden from her supposed husband, Ben. The mystery is set up right from the beginning as she begins to read about her life and on the first page of the journal she has written “DON’T TRUST BEN.” So far so good. Then we follow Christine from day to day through the journal to see what brought her to this point. So we have an unreliable narrator, an unreliable husband, and who knows whether or not this doctor is reliable. The plot moves forward ever so slowly as memories do resurface from time to time, and she seems to be able to hold onto them as they are retriggered through the journal each day. But that gets very repetitious. The key to solving the mystery seems to be to find out what happened to her long lost best friend, Claire, who might be able to provide some answers. But the story takes far too long to get there, and we have completely lost the suspense that was set up at the beginning. To be fair, I already knew how it would end. But would I have been surprised at that point? Maybe, but it had no psychological impact for me getting there. The book needed much more in the way of creepy foreshadowing.

The setting, London, was entirely irrelevant, especially since the publishers had completely Americanized the dialog. I had to keep reminding myself this was supposed to be Britain as even the audiobook was narrated by an American, Orlagh Cassidy. Intriguing premise aside, the specifics were just not credulous. The journal reads like a novel, not a journal. Do we seriously believe she has time to write with such mind-numbing detail and keep it hidden from Ben? And Claire – what kind of best friend wouldn’t have tried to find Christine? Not to mention her son… This might have worked a lot better as a dual story perhaps with some back and forth between Christine’s and Claire’s point of view. This could be a decent movie with some of the plot points tightened up and opening it up to more points of view.

Book Description: ‘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. Welcome to Christine’s life.

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