Before I Go To Sleep (S.J.Watson)

This book came from the bookshelf at work. It’s a rather mishmashed bookshelf, as you would imagine for a place with different people and tastes. A few months ago, I read Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl from the bookshelf. Last week I picked up Before I Go To Sleep by S.J.Watson and published by Transworld Books. I’ve heard some amazing things about this book, and as I enjoy a good thriller to break up the fantasy and the children’s fiction, I thought I’d give it a go.

Before I Go To Sleep is the diary of Christine, a woman who’s memory lasts only until she falls asleep. Every morning, she wakes up, and she doesn’t know where she is, or who the man sleeping next to her is. And it’s quite possible that her life isn’t what it seems. What accident lead to her memory problems? What if the one person she is supposed to be able to trust can’t be trusted at all?

I’m honestly not sure how I feel about this book. I didn’t enjoy it, but I read the whole thing. I felt it was lacking in … something… but I couldn’t explain to you what. It’s a fairly well researched book on the fragility of memory and what happens when memory fails. The character is, in true thriller form, not particularly likeable, but she is in an incredibly vulnerable situation, every day and doesn’t remember it one day to the next without her journal – the journal she has been keeping a secret from her husband, Ben. I finished the book, I guessed the ending. Perhaps it’s simply because there was so much hype surrounding the book a year or so ago, but I felt it was rather flat, a little par of the course.

I kept reading to find out how the author was going to resolve the narrative as opposed to any sense of excitement about the ending. The premise was novel, and I liked that some effort was put in to explain the potential roots of Christine’s memory problems, using science and research and medical words. Perhaps that might be why I am dissatisfied with the book, the science was there but the idea still felt implausible. Perhaps my forays into memory loss in University have hampered my ability to enjoy this book. Perhaps. Unlikely. I don’t think looking for a reason why I didn’t enjoy Before I Go To Sleep is going to yield any fruitful answers, so I shall leave it at dissatisfaction.

It’s very hard finding the words to review this book effectively, I am very on the fence. I didn’t hate it (reviews for books I despised are easy to write), nor did I like it. I feel extremely ambivalent towards Before I Go To Sleep, but I can appreciate that it is relatively good, and clearly some people love it. But not me. Which is a shame, I do enjoy one-off thrillers.

Have you read Before I Go To Sleep? How did it make you feel? Please comment below, I’d quite enjoy a debate about this book, and no-one I know has, or is inclined, to read it to discuss with me.


  1. I do love psychological thrillers and this was one I read after reading the amazing ‘Gone Girl’. And I did like it, but I do admit that I felt it wasn’t quite amazing. I feel it’s because it was the author’s first book. It was better than the film though.


    1. I have a problem with thrillers in that I can either read the book OR see the film, once I know what the twist is, I find it harder. I watched Gone Girl, and I think it was the first “proper” psychological thrillers I had seen! I vaguely knew “before I go to sleep” was also a film, but it was kind of abstract. I can’t imagine the way the narrative is structured in the book working for a film – it’s very much introspection… So I agree, it wasn’t all that amazing, and maybe it is because it was the author’s first book?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, but since then I’ve gotten way into psychological thrillers, but am usually disappointed as I compare them to Gone Girl.

        One I recommend is called Behind Her Eyes (by Sarah Pinborough, I believe). It’s not the best written, but it has a twist at the very end that just blows your mind, if you’re into twist endings!


    1. It was a good read, and I’d like to say if you enjoyed the film you’ll enjoy the book, because the structure was really interesting, but as I haven’t seen the film I can’t pass a comparison like that. Let me know when you’ve read it, and how you think the book to film transition went!

      Liked by 1 person

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