This book was recommended to me by several people. And it’s being made into a movie. So I read it.
This is a book I would’ve picked up, even if it hadn’t been recommended. Before I Go To Sleep, written by S.J. Watson, has a very intriguing concept of a woman who wakes up thinking she’s in her twenties when she’s actually forty-something. Turns out, she forgets almost everything about her life whenever she goes to sleep and wakes up the next morning, still thinking she’s either in her twenties or just a child. And every day, her husband has to explain that they’ve been married for a long time and that she was in an accident that gave her memory problems. Cool, right? I admit, I would’ve been much more impressed with the idea, if it hadn’t already been in a movie called 50 First Dates with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.
But, that aside, I picked it up with a growing interest and high expectations. The story itself wasn’t uninteresting. A tiny bit predictable (as in I guessed the ending long before it happened), but completely new stories in every single book are too much to ask for, so I forgive Before I Go To Sleep.
Although nothing much really happened action-wise, the changing moods of the narrator, Christine, are very interesting. Other than the occasional desire and growing crush on her younger doctor, Dr. Nash, the internal conflict focuses on her changing trust in her husband, Ben. Her trust in him fluctuates throughout the book. In the very beginning, the reader is shown the words, “DON’T TRUST BEN” that Christine has written in the front of her notebook that she has been writing down her life in. S.J. Watson then leads us into several entries in which Christine believes that Ben is the only person she can trust. lHer trust fluctuates between oh-you’re-the-only-one-i-trust-because-you’ve-taken-care-of-me-despite-my-memory-all-these-years-so-therefore-you-must-really-love-me and dude-what-the-hell-you’re-not-telling-me-the-truth.
In all, the plot was interesting and it grabbed my attention in the slightly-tugging-at-my-mind way, rather than oh-my-god-i-have-to-stay-up-all-night-to-read-this way; neither of which is better, this story just happened to peak my interest in a different way.
However, despite all its strengths and interesting concepts, I will probably have forgotten the entire plot of the book by July. “Bland” is a harsh word to describe the plot, but more like the taste of that mediocre buffet on the side of the highway. It’s good and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but by the end of the week, I will have no idea what I had eaten at that buffet. That is Before I Go To Sleep. In a food analogy.
To me, the issue is in that the entire book feels the same. All of Christine’s entries run together and it ends up seeming like one long entry, which is almost like a flat line, meaning there is nothing that stands out. Other than the interesting concept of this specific type of amnesia, nothing about the plot really stands out. It all feels the same.
Obviously, there are things happening, like when Christine first realizes that Ben has been lying to her about her son, which she didn’t know she had, or when she meets with Dr. Nash, but the feeling about these scenes and events is pretty much the same. That slight sense of mystery, curious and slightly nagging, but easily put out of the mind, with just a dash of anxiety.
Conclusion: Although an engaging idea about a new kind of amnesia, the book itself is quite easy to forget with a somewhat predictable plot and lack of change in tension and feel; despite this, Before I Go To Sleep still pulls off an enjoyable read. Bonus points for having Nicole Kidman in the upcoming movie. 7/10.