Review: Before I Go to Sleep

Before I Go to Sleep
Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

With a lot of praise and cover blurbs from some of the most respected mystery and suspense authors working today and rave reviews from various on-line circles, I was pretty anxious to pick up Before I Go To Sleep and see what all the buzz was about.

The premise is a bit like the movie Memento. Each morning when Christine awakes, she’s in bed with a stranger and staring back at an older version of herself in the mirror. Turns out she’s the victim of an accident that doesn’t allow her to process short term memories into long-term memories. She and her husband Ben have left notes around the mirror to explain who she is and what’s happened.

But even with no long-term memory, Christine has secrets. She keeps a journal of the flashes of memory that come back each day, reading it each day and writing down what she’s discovered to that point. And she’s seeing a doctor without her husband’s knowledge to see if she can figure out a way to restore her memory or at least just allow her to create some long-term memories.

As the novel progresses, Christine discovers that everything isn’t exactly as it appears. The first page of her diary says not to trust her husband, Ben. At first, she thinks this is because Ben has hidden the fact that they have a child from her. But as the novel goes along, the reader and Christine slowly realize there’s something more going on here than meets the eye.

To say more than that would be to give away virtually all the revelations from the final half of the novel. And, quite frankly, that would ruin half the fun of reading the story.

S.J. Watson captures the fear, uncertainty, panic and paranoia Christine endures each day. The situation is compelling enough to keep the pages turning and it kept me guessing what was really happening to Christine. And while all of that works while reading the novel, the more time that has passed since turning the final page, the less satisfied I feel. It’s not that the revelations weren’t interesting, but I feel like I built up such high expectations for what was to come that the twists and turns didn’t quite live up to it.

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