Friday, 17 February 2012

Before I go to Sleep by S. J. Watson **Review**

Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson
Series: None
Pages: 384
Publisher: Black Swan
Release date: 2nd January 2012
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones

Goodreads synopsis:
Christine wakes up every morning in an unfamiliar bed with an unfamiliar man. She looks in the mirror and sees an unfamiliar, middle- aged face. And every morning, the man she has woken up with must explain that he is Ben, he is her husband, she is forty-seven years old, and a terrible accident two decades earlier decimated her ability to form new memories.

But it’s the phone call from a Dr. Nash, a neurologist who claims to be working with Christine without her husband’s knowledge, that directs her to her journal, hidden in the back of her closet. For the past few weeks, Christine has been recording her daily activities—tearful mornings with Ben, sessions with Dr. Nash, flashes of scenes from her former life—and rereading past entries, relearning the facts of her life as retold by the husband she is completely dependent upon. As the entries build up, Christine asks many questions. What was life like before the accident? Why did she and Ben never have a child? What has happened to Christine’s best friend? And what exactly was the horrific accident that caused such a profound loss of memory?

Every day, Christine must begin again the reconstruction of her past. And the closer she gets to the truth, the more un- believable it seems.

This book is extraordinary! I hope the beginning to this review will grab your attention, and that you'll now read on - I'd say this book is certainly a must read.

The novel was exceptionally written all the way though, and from the very first page, I was convinced that Christine was a real woman, living this frighteningly believable nightmare. Her character effortlessly draws you in, despite the fact that we will know very little about her for some time. This though, in a way, brings us closer to the character, because this is not only our journey of discovery, but Christine's too, as she pieces together the fractured fragments of her life and reshapes and rebuilds her story, until the truth is revealed. This parallel between protagonist and reader in itself is extremely powerful, and that is without taking the rest of the novel into account.

The story and (more importantly, I think) the structure of the book is outstandingly intelligent, and continues being so throughout the novel, despite the complexity of the narrative. Christine's memory is erased once she falls asleep each and every night; once she wakes the next morning, she remembers nothing of the previous day. So, in order to allow the plot to continue developing, the majority of the book is written as Christine's journal - a record of the memories she recalls, and the events of each day, giving her life a sense of continuity, however slight that might be.
This could easily have become a tiresome read, as Christine reads her previous entries each day, reads and re-reads the joys and tragedies of her life, and learns to recognise herself over again. In this case though, there is nothing tiresome about it, which can only show the faultless skill of the author. It is truly impressive.

This book is thrilling, yes, but I think what made it such an incredible read, for me, was how convincing and real it felt. As I've already said, Christine was not just a character to me, but real, and this goes for the rest of the novel too. There was nothing two-dimensional about the novel at all - it breathed life from its pages, and this is the mark of a truly spectacular work of art.

I don't feel as though I can say much more about the book, without beginning to give anything away. Obviously there is so much more that I'd like to say, but I'd hate to believe that I would be ruining any of the surprises that lie in wait for you between the pages.
Usually at this point, I might recommend the book to lovers of a particular genre, or specific set of authors - something of this kind. This is something spectacular though, and I would urge anyone and everyone to pick it up and give it a go. I am certain that you will agree with me.


Ellie Warren said...

I stayed up late on a work night reading this because it was so gripping. That hasn't happened to me with a book for ages.

flamingice said...

I've heard good things about this book and this is a really good review - you've prompted me to stick it on my Amazon wishslist to remind myself next time I buy books for myself! It sounds really interesting.

Nicola (pocketfullofbooks) said...

Wow, this sounds amazing. I've seen this around but hadn't taken the time to read what it was about. Your review has made me want it right now!

Doodle said...

Great review. I've heard good things about this book, but your review has me going to get my wallet to order this book! Thank you!

LisaILJ said...

I usually stick to YA, but you have really made this one sound so good.

Evie said...

This book reminds me the movie "50 First Dates". It seems so intense and intriguing! Now I'm looking forward to read it.

Pen to Paper said...

I know what you mean, Evie! When I finished it, I thought that! It's so much better though! :)

divavixenqueen said...

Very nice review.It sounds like a very intriguing read.

Irene E. Jensen said...

This book has been on my "owned but haven't read"-list for ages! Now I feel like start reading it. Now. NOW! But I have to finish two books first. I hope I won't be disappointed :D

Steph said...

Great review! This one has been on my TBR list for quite awhile now. It sounds really good! After reading your review, I might have to splurge and get it! :)

SarahSerenity said...

Great review, I strangely hadn't heard of this book until now. It sounds so good! Reminds me of that Adam Sandler movie 50 First Dates which I loved, so I'll probably love this too!

Bonnie @ Bookish Ardour said...

It sounds like 50 First Dates, but I would imagine it would be far better, if it's only because of being in a book format ;)

I've been wanting to read this book for some time and more so now after your review. Especially to see how it's written to avoid it becoming tiresome. Thanks for the review.

IdentitySeeker said...

Okay, now I'm intrigued. I haven't heard much about this novel and the blurb reminded me a little of Forgotten by Cat Patrick, but since you loved it so much, I'd probably give it a try:)

Sarah Bibi Setar

Debdatta Dasgupta Sahay said...

I have heard of this one before but this has to be the most detailed & amazing review I have come across

Stephanie Verhaegen said...

Great review! I saw it in a bookstore a few weeks back but I didn't get it. I might now. :)

Jaime Lester said...

It sounds a little like the movie 50 First Dates with Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler, I normally don't read a lot of adult novels, even though I am one, but I may have to make an exception for Before I Go To Sleep. Your review is glowing and it sounds like a truly touching, unforgettable read. Thanks so much for your review!

Suz said...

Great review! I was curious about this book and after reading your comments, I am definitely adding it to my TBR list! The idea of someone who doesn't remember their life each day is scary and I'm glad that you said it is done well in this book. You also said it is thrilling and gave it a high rating so it sounds perfect for me!

Jaime Lester said...

I don't read a lot of adult fiction, but I think I might make an exception for Before I Go To Sleep. It sounds really, really good. Almost like a much more intense, serious version of 50 First Dates. I cannot imagine living Christine's life, or watching someone I love live it. It would be incredibly heartbreaking for all involved. Thanks so much for a great review!

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