Review: Before I Go to Sleep, S. J. Watson

Thanks, blogosphere, for having the exact opinion of Before I Go to Sleep that I had my own self. As usual y’all were right about everything.

Before I Go to Sleep is about a woman called Christine who developed amnesia following some sort of accident (she can’t remember). Every morning when she wakes up, her memories of the previous day are gone. She doesn’t remember her husband Ben, or her doctor, or any of her friends or experiences from her old life. On a good day she can remember as recently as her college years. Every day, Ben patiently explains her old life to her once again; and every night when she goes to sleep, her memories wipe clean. But one day her doctor tells her about a journal that he’s been having her keep, and when she opens it the first words in it say DON’T TRUST BEN.

(Ruh-roh! Plot thickens!)

So then the rest of the book is about trying to figure out her life before and what happened in it, and whether Ben is on the up-and-up, or whether possibly her doctor is the one not on the up-and-up, and what kind of an accident was it exactly and where are all her friends and what is happening during her days? Memento-style! (Sort of.)

Since I’ve mentioned Memento, I’ll admit that Memento, as a work of fiction that deals with short-term memory loss, was my point of reference for this book, and Memento is pretty m.f. great. Memento makes your spine tingle each time it chooses to deal out a revelation about what’s really (or apparently) going on. And Before I Go to Sleep just doesn’t have the same impact. Christine discovers some shocking things over the course of the book, but none of them was set up in a way that the revelation actually shocked me. Even the huge reveal at the end, that the man claiming to be Ben isn’t really Ben, didn’t make me gasp.

Then the ending (this is what the whole blogosphere was so, so right about) was way too pat and happy. The son’s alive! Real Ben wants to see her! Her college friend is back in her life! Blah. None of the emotional stuff felt real, and I didn’t care if Christine got her memory back or lived happily ever after.

In sum, a psychological thriller that failed to thrill me.