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Thursday, 17 December 2015

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

Christine Lucas wakes up in a state of utter confusion. She has no idea where she is, how she got there, or what to do next. In fact, it's a while before she realises that she is not who she thinks she is - in terms of age, anyway. She is greeted by her husband, Ben, who explains to her what has happened - she was in a terrible accident which left her without any memories after her 29th year.

When Ben goes to work she receives a call from an unknown person, Dr. Nash, whom claims to have been working with her on her memory. She agrees to meet with him, and he gives her a journal, which he says is hers. When she reads it, the first words that she is greeted with are "Don't trust Ben."

This book is a slow burner of a suspenseful thriller. The tension throughout builds so much so that the reader is constantly left with doubt of who exactly to trust. The only thing the reader can supposedly trust is Christine and the fact that she will lose her memory each night when she sleeps. Yet occasionally she has vivid flashes of memories, which both spur her on and leave her feeling frustrated, especially when she uses them to test whether or not Ben is lying to her. Though necessarily repetitive in some parts, Watson throws in just enough curveballs to keep the reader hooked while not straying from the central fact that Christine loses her memory every night, and so every morning has many of the same things to learn. Some of these curveballs are particularly heart wrenching (but I won't mention them here to keep spoiler free) and are such that they throw the reader into the arms and trust of Ben and Dr. Nash at different points.

The finale of this book contain some of the most nail-biting passages I've ever read (again, not described because spoilers). It is one of those that has you rushing ahead to find out whether or not everything will be okay, and then going back to reread while your heart slows down a bit.

I loved one of the themes of this book in particular, which was memory and how vital it is to our sense of identity. It's easy to think that our sense of identity is almost always intact, but would we think the same if we had no memory of things that had happened in our lives, things that have shaped us and made us who we are now?

Before I Go To Sleep is a powerful, moving, suspenseful story that leaves the reader thinking about so much more about Christine and her experience, and how grateful we are to have our memories secure.

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