Rummanah Aasi
 Are you looking for a suspenseful read to take with you on the beach? Check out S.J. Watson's debut novel Before I Go To Sleep especially if Memento is your kind of movie. If you like psychological thrillers instead of blood and gore, this book would be a great choice for you.

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.

Review: Before I Go To Sleep is an absorbing psychological thriller that grabs you right away and won't let you go. As the book opens, Christine wakes up every morning thinking she is still in her early 20s until she looks in the mirror and discovers she’s in her late 40s. The bathroom is plastered with photos that doesn't recognize. She has absolutely no recollection of her friends, family, her life, and even her husband. She is able to transfer things from short term to long term memory but is unable to retain them after she falls asleep, repeating the same nightmarish cycle all over again. While her personal memories (i.e. herself, her family, etc.) have vanished, she does remember how to do things and knows the names of objects. 
   We know as much, and as little, as Christine. Fiction and truth collide when her doctor advises her to keep a journal in order to remind herself every day of who she is.  The story is told by others don't mesh with what she has written down herself. I really enjoyed how Watson played with this notion of memory and the unreliable narrator. At times I, like Christine, had to second guess myself whether or not specific events happened or not in the book.
The characters are removed in the book, which normally I would have a problem with as a reader, however, it makes sense with the mysterious tone of the book. When I did find more about Christine, I didn't really like her but I still felt bad for her, if that makes any sense. 

   I will warn you that the book unravels at a leisurely pace. It was really hard for me to not turn to the end. I tend to do that with mysteries and thrillers if I'm pretty confident on the identity of the perpetrator. I did manage the big twist before Christine, however, I actually enjoyed the journey to the big reveal. The prospect of constant amnesia is frightening enough, but having people manipulate your memories is just creepy. Overall, the book held my interest and made me think about how fragile memories can be.
Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong language, violence, sexual dialog and situations. Recommended for mature teens and adults only.

If you like this book try: Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante, Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane, The Dark Room by Minette Walters, Black Out by Lisa Unger
6 Responses
  1. I've seen this one before, but your review made me put it on my list. I did like Memento -- I think those twisted, unreliable narrator, psychological stories are great. Thanks!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I Loved this one!!! I actually did not see the "twist" at the end I was shocked. But thats why I loved the novel, I was so caught up in is it her son, her husband, the counselor, what did the best friend do, did they cheat, was it a set up....arhhhh it was a fun read!!

  3. danya Says:

    This one definitely sounds like it might be something I'd enjoy! Playing with memory can be a fascinating way to mess with the reader's head. I am much more a fan of psychological thrillers than blood and gore, and this book sounds like it does the subtly disturbing quite well. Thanks for the review, Rummanah!

  4. Hah! I can never resist taking a quick look at the ending! I did so with this book too, it was impossible not to. I did appreciate how well the memory loss issue was handled, it's a tricky thing. Christine was an interesting character, I loved being inside her head and the absence of other characters didn't bother me in this case either.
    Lovely review, Rummanah. :)

  5. I heard rave reviews for this one and this is on my wishlist because it sounds so interesting. Not being able to remember anything from day to day must be so frightening.

    Lol, I like flipping to the end too so I'm not sure I'd be able to show as much restraint as you :)

  6. Oh! I loved Memento! I can't the same premise working in a novel, but I glad to know I'm wrong. Im not usually into thrillers and mysteries, and I'd probably want to jump to the back too, but it seems like a worthwhile read.

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