Monday, February 20, 2012

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

Title: Before I Go To Sleep
Author: S.J. Watson

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Thriller / Amnesia / Unreliable Narrator / UK)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Paperbacks (2/7/2012)
Source: TLC Book Tours

Rating: Okay.
Did I finish?: I did -- I was too petrified to stop!
One-sentence summary: A woman wakes to find herself in her 40s without a memory of her last twenty years or so, and each day she starts over trying to untangle the mystery of how it happened.

Do I like the cover?:I hate it, but I actually think it fits the book very well, and it's creepy and striking.  So...maybe I like it!

I'm reminded of...: Jennifer McMahon

First line: The bedroom is strange.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow, especially if you're facing a gloomy weekend (weather-wise): the ambiance will make this even creepier!

Why did I get this book?: Some heavy hitters blurbed this book positively -- Dennis Lehane, Lionel Shriver, Anita Shreve -- so I figured I'd give it a try!

Review: Last year, I read something like three books featuring main characters with a traumatic brain injury that caused them to forget parts of their past. I'm sort of over that theme, but there was so much buzz about this book that I decided to get over myself and read this one. From the first chapter, and the narrator's disorienting crash in to reality and her life (even if she doesn't believe this is her life), I was grabbed: there's an immediacy that comes from her horror and her apprehension. Even more, it's impossible to trust anyone -- at least I couldn't conceive of trusting anyone in this tale -- which meant every revelation felt suspicious, and I just couldn't put the book down. I had to know!

I must admit I was reminded greatly of Momento, so some of the oomph of the premise -- the journal, the don't-trust-Ben stuff -- didn't feel as shocking to me as I think they were supposed to be, but Watson's writing is solid, and there's tension is spades. I couldn't put this book down because I didn't want to leave our heroine, Chrissy, alone!

Overall, this is a solid thriller, and if you're not the type to try to 'solve' the mystery, then I think it'll captivate you for a few days. Everything wrapped up a little too neatly for me, but I think it would have been impossible to find a perfect ending for this book. A diverting read!

21 comments:

  1. I've read mixed reviews of this book. I own it so I will read it at some point but I'm glad you reviewed it mostly positively. I hope I remember not to try solving the mystery! I got excited by your comparison to Momento since I loved that movie everytime I saw it.
    My favorite part of your review is when you say that you coulodn't the book down because you didn't want to leave Chrissy alone. It sounds like her character was quite life-like, yay! I already hate that the ending wraps up neatly but at least its at the end!

    Your cover is different than mine & Creepy, Creepy, Creepy!
    Now I'm looking forward to this book, thank you Audra!

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    1. I can't wait to see what you think of it, Amy! The character felt very real, given that she didn't know who she was and was in a seemingly improbable situation -- so kudos to Watson for that. It's the reason I kept on!

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  2. Yeah, it was definitely interesting enough to read, but I don't quite get the hype over it.

    I really need to see Memento. ;)

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    1. Do, although now that you've read this, I'm not sure Momento would be as amazing. Certainly, the visual storytelling takes out some of the repetitiveness of the blank-slate-every-morning feel that occasionally happened in this book.

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  3. I think the ending was a little too pat for me, but overall, it was a pretty solid read. I didn't like the audio as much as I probably would have liked the print version, because for some reason, there was just no urgency in the narration. I really liked your review of this one though, and think you brought out the best parts of the book.

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  4. I found this a real unputdownable book but then it didn't remind me of anything else I'd read recently. I sometimes think if I'm caught up in a book and read it in 24 hours, I don't stop to critique so much. I have read a few not so rosy reviews and thought, yeah maybe they have a point. But the sheer reading pleasure was enough for me to give it 5 stars :)

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    1. Ellie -- that happened for me a lot last summer -- I found myself in the grip of a bunch of fantastic books that might not have stood up to some heavy critique but they captivated me so much, I had to rate them high. Sadly, this one didn't steal me away as some other reads. :/ But I'm glad you loved it so!

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  5. I HATE this cover and I am over the theme as well. Someone from my book club tried to pitch this book for our list. I didn't think it would get the votes and it didn't, but really, what would there have been to discuss?

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    1. As I suggested to Jessie below, I wonder if the prevalence of this theme is due to a societal fear of Alzheimer’s? I don't know, maybe more people suffer traumatic brain injuries than I realize. Regardless, while I understand the appeal of exploring the adult-without-memory theme, I feel like I've hit the limit of the story arc.

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  6. Freaky! I wonder what that would be like...

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  7. I keep seeing this everywhere - from bookstores to grocery stores. I'm always mildly intrigued enough to peruse the covers but never buy it. The traumatic brain injury ploy really, really needs to go - that line alone from your review further warned me off this one.

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    1. I know -- I understand the appeal of it -- blank slate and all that -- but it's beginning to feel, I don't know, cheap? I don't know, maybe it's part of a cultural horror of forgetting as Alzheimer’s strikes so many people. (I think it's in the top 10 leading causes of death in the US, if I recall correctly.)

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  8. the cover of this one is so striking. It sounds like a book I would enjoy reading for sure.

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  9. I am not sure that being too terrified to put a book down is a good thing is it!

    This is on my TBR list to get to eventually!

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  10. I'd really like to get my hands on this one!

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  11. I really want to read this one even though the reviews have been mixed. I just think I would like it -- I do have a copy.Thanks for sharing your thoughts Audra

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  12. Thanks for your review. This was my favorite audiobook for 2011. have you see today's live interview of the author on goodreads, really cool. here is my own review: http://wordsandpeace.com/2011/11/21/83-before-i-go-to-sleep/

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  13. After reading your comment on my blog, I reread my review and quite honestly, if I had wrote it today I think it may have been a bit different. The more time that goes by, the more forgettable this book is becoming. I think it was enjoyable cotton candy while I was reading it, but now I'm just sort of left with an grumbly stomach.

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  14. The premise reminds me of Memento as well. Sounds like this one might be good for a quick escapist weekend read!

    Thanks for being on the tour.

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  15. I loved this book. It kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next. I think the ending could have been done differently but still I have no complaints about the book. I do have to look up this Momento book though as you're not the first person to mention it. Glad you liked it as well Audra!

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  16. Oh i loved Memento. What a great movie! I'll have to put this on my TBR list.

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