Saturday, March 24, 2012

Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson

Christine writes in her journal every day. Each morning she wakes up having forgotten who she is and how she came to be in bed with a man who tells her his name is Ben, and he is her husband. Each day he explains who she is and what her life has become. Only by listening to Ben and reading her journal can she piece together her life, of what happened yesterday or the day before. Only be writing down what happens to her today will she be able to know it tomorrow. But there's one troubling thing. In the front of her journal are three words: Don't trust Ben.

I don't normally read thrillers since I have a hard enough time sleeping anyway. And I especially don't read them right before bed. Last night, however, I broke my own rule (and subsequently dreamed I had the same illness as the main character) because I had to know what happened to Christine.

The plot itself is intriguing: what would life be like if you forgot who you were each night when you fell asleep? How would you cope each morning, not recognizing the house you woke up in or the man sleeping next to you? While not fast-paced, this definitely wasn't a slow book. The was a continual build-up to the final moments; I was compelled to keep turning the page (hence the dream).

Watson's portrayal of Christine is exceptional. She is a well-drawn, believable, sympathetic character. It was easy to imagine what she was going through and how completely and utterly bewildering her life was. Secondary characters were not as complete, I felt, but how could they be when Christine is narrating and she can't remember more than a 24-hour period?

4 out of 5 stars. Compelling and well-written, but the ending was not as tied-up-in-a-pretty-little-bow as I would have liked.

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