Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson
Synopsis From Back Cover:
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 be telling you only half the story.
Welcome to Christine's life.
Ever since I finished reading this book I've been trying to remember when I watched Memento for the first time. I know it was while it was still playing in theaters, though the only one in Wichita that was showing it was a smaller theater that specialized in less mainstream films, Sadly, both their locations have closed since then. So lets say, early 2001 was when I fell in love with the movie for the first time. Thankfully, I will not have the memory issue with Before I Go To Sleep because I will have the blog to always remind me.
Now, apart from some superficial similarities, Memento and this novel are not the same thing. They aren't even close. While they both involve problems with memory and trauma, the movie is a revenge thriller while the book is more of a psychological thriller. They both have their moments of terror, though I must say the written word and what it allows your own imagination to conjure has any movie beat hands down.
Now that I got that confusing mumbo-jumbo about absolutely nothing out of the way, lets get down to the book. From the instance that Christine wakes up in a bed she doesn't recognize and a man who looks way too old for her, I was hooked. The apprehension, confusion, and abject terror that would ooze off the page at various points along the journey kept me going when part of my brain were trying to play catch up.
Christine is one of my favorite kinds of characters, the unreliable narrator that can't be counted on to tell the whole truth. In most cases, it's because the narrator is trying to hide something from the reader. In this case, it's because Christine really doesn't know what's going on and has to rely on what her husband tells her and her own journal entries from the day(s) before. For her, everything is secondhand knowledge. As the story progresses parts of her memory seem to come back, but it's never very clear if it's because she just read about it in a journal or if the brain is actually trying to repair itself to get her out of an ever growing sticky situation. She has serious problems trying to figure out what is memory, what is truth, and what are flat out lies.
While I found the premise and plot points to be engaging, I found nothing in the book really surprised me and that the storyline was pretty predictable. I'm not saying predictable is a bad thing, at times it can actually be the opposite. In this case, I'm not sure it really had any impact on my enjoyment of the story. Even the parts that seemed a little far fetched kept me entertained enough to continue on Christine's journey.
The only real issues, and while they may sound major they really didn't turn me off the book, I had were in the way her family are depicted and the frantic nature of the climax. I know that in any book we are supposed to use our willing suspension of disbelief, but there comes a point where things just don't make sense. How could people in her life, who are supposed to love her, allow things to get this far? I just find it hard to believe that despite how painful it must be to be around someone who doesn't remember you when they wake up everyday, that you would completely walk away and allow the "mystery" in this book to happen.
As far as the pacing of the end goes, I'm getting used to it, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. It just seems that too many books are ending in the last few pages with so much kinetic energy spilling off the page that I'm concerned the book itself may catch fire. Everything seems so rushed anymore. I'm sure it's somehow supposed to build up tension, but it rarely ever works out that way for me. For the most part, and I'm including this book, is just seems that the frantic nature does more harm than good. I would have rather had more of an emotional payoff as opposed to a rushed action scene.
Overall, I think the book was great for what I needed it for. It was pure escapism for me, but not something that I'll be in a big hurry to read again.
I would like to thank Trish of TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read/review this book. Please visit the tour page for more reviews.