Before I Go to Sleep

Before I Go to Sleep

Book rating: 05 Paperback Black Swan

By (author) S. J. Watson

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  • Publisher: Black Swan
  • Format: Paperback | 384 pages
  • Dimensions: 110mm x 176mm x 26mm | 222g
  • Publication date: 1 May 2012
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0552164127
  • ISBN 13: 9780552164122
  • Sales rank: 1,292

Product description

'As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I'm still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me...' Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love - all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story. Welcome to Christine's life.

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Author information

S J Watson was born in the Midlands, lives in London and worked in the NHS for a number of years. In 2009 Watson was accepted into the first Faber Academy 'Writing a Novel' course, a programme that covers all aspects of the novel-writing process. Before I Go To Sleep is the result. Before I Go To Sleep has become a phenomenal international success, sold in 42 territories around the world. It is a New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller, and won both the Crime Writers' Association Award for Best Debut Novel and the Galaxy National Book Award for Crime Thriller of the Year. Before I Go To Sleep has also been acquired for film by Ridley Scott's production company, Scott Free, with Rowan Joffe to direct. Review and discuss Before I Go To Sleep on Facebook, For more information on S J Watson, please visit

Customer reviews

By Oana 01 May 2013 5

You would think that people read reviews before they choose what book to read. Well, not me. I read the reviews of a book only after I have read it, because I'm so curious to see what other people think about it. Usually, this only happens with books I absolutely loved, and "Before I Go To Sleep" is one of them. It has mixed reviews on Goodreads, but most of them are positive, if not raving. I'm going to tell you now that mine is going to be raving because I loved, loved, loved this book! However, I do agree that those who gave it only 1 or 2 stars have a point. There were unrealistic and rather forced situations and coincidences, but let me tell you this: "Before I Go To Sleep" is a page-turner. After I finished reading it, my first thought was: this is how you write a best-seller. I am willing to leave all the unrealistic aspects aside, even completely forget about them, because this book kept me engaged until the last page.

First, it is based on an interesting premise: what if you woke up every morning with no memories of the last 20 years of your life? What if every day you had to learn that you are in your forties, not twenties, that you are married, and you suffered an accident that prevents you from keeping new memories for more than one day? Sounds scary, huh? Christine wakes up every morning in bed with a man she doesn't know, then spends her entire day learning about herself and her life, and when she finally thinks she understands her situation, she goes to sleep knowing that her brain will reset during the night, and the next morning she will go through the same process. No yesterday and no tomorrow. She only has today.

The main idea of the novel gives so many possibilities for the action. And because every time I read a mystery/suspense I try to find out the secret before the characters, while reading this novel I took into consideration every single possibility I could think of. Of course, I eventually guessed because, after all, the novel is written after a well-known recipe that involves someone who is not who we think he/she is, and a major twist at the end, that will turn everything we thought we knew upside down. When I read this kind of novels, my principle is: don't take anything for granted. Somehow, this is fun because I turn the reading into a game, but, on the other hand, it's unsatisfactory, because the ending has fewer chances to surprise me. So, I won't say that the ending of "Before I Go To Sleep", the great revelation, surprised me, as I took that possibility into consideration. But I sure enjoyed the ride.

I think the strongest point of this novel was the unreliable narrator. I love unreliable narrators! They're so fun to read and such a challenge sometimes. It was interesting to follow Christine as she was trying to learn more about herself and her past, at the same time being perfectly aware that she was probably getting most things wrong. You get excited about every new discovery she makes, and then you have to remind yourself that it's probably a lie. She can only trust the people around her to tell her what happened that made her lose her memory, but not all of them are trustworthy. Then, her condition makes her mix up memories with imagination. All these elements turn "Before I Go To Sleep" into an exciting read. I couldn't wait to grab my Kindle whenever I had some free minutes to see what happened next, if the next clue would help me solve the mystery before her.

I will definitely recommend this novel to everyone I know that I think will enjoy it. Reading the reviews on Goodreads, I saw that some people found it slow and others couldn't get past the unrealistic and convenient situations. I wouldn't say that it was slow, although there were times when I wanted things to happen faster. It wasn't because the action dragged, but because I was eager to find out more about Christine. So no, the novel was not slow, it was just the author building up the suspense. And he did it quite well. Again, I won't deny the unrealistic aspects of the plot, but I give it 5 compasses because it kept me glued to the pages, because it was so enjoyable and well-thought that I just didn't care that some things were exaggerated and unlikely to happen in real life.

By Marianne Vincent 22 Dec 2012 5

Before I Go To Sleep is the first novel by British author S.J.Watson. Christine Lucas has the sort of amnesia that prevents her from storing new memories. This means that she wakes each day in an unfamiliar bedroom, next to a man she doesn't know. The face she sees in the mirror is that of a woman much older than she knows herself to be. Each morning the man in her bed reassures her that he is Ben, her husband of 22 years, and that he loves her and will take care of her. So everything will be OK, won't it? Watson has created a novel with an original plot and some delicious twists, a novel full of suspense with a heart-stopping climax and a perfect ending. Watson skilfully conveys Christine's confusion, her doubts about her own memories, her fear of paranoia and ultimately her mistrust of what she is told. This debut novel is a brilliantly conceived psychological thriller that is hard to put down and will keep the reader guessing to the end. S.J.Watson is an author to watch.

By Bouteille 28 May 2012 5

Very original plot. A bit slow in the beginning but I was hooked very soon and couldn't put it down.

By Jessica Nguyen 15 May 2012 4

At first I thought it wasn't going to be that great. Very repetitive and the information being given seemed mostly irrelevant, however it did get better. I never understood why this book was classified as a Crime Thriller until the end of the novel but it was great and I did quite enjoy it.

Review quote

Quite simply the best debut novel I've ever read. -- Tess Gerritsen Brilliant in its pacing, profound in its central question, suspenseful on every page - and satisfying in its thriller ending. -- Anita Shreve A deft, perceptive exploration of a fascinating neurological condition, and a cracking good thriller. -- Lionel Shriver 20101027 A terrific first novel - well-written, genuinely unsettling and psychologically very plausible. Thrillers seldom come much better than this. Loved it, read it in one -- Joanne Harris 20101101 An exceptional thriller. It left my nerves jangling for hours after I finished the last page -- Dennis Lehane 20101102