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on June 17, 2011
First let me say that this book is nothing like Fifty First Dates; the main point being that this is a thriller not a comedy. If you were to compare it to a movie, Momento would be a better choice. Yes, it's another story involving amnesia but it's good.

I read this book in one sitting. The premise is rather simple but the way the story unfolds is completely captivating: a woman wakes up each day unable to remember anything that's happened in the last 20 or so years. The story is her journal as she pieces together her life and dark secrets are slowly revealed. This is a gripping, entertaining and unputdownable thriller and should be the big summer blockbuster this year!!
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You might have heard about Before I Go To Sleep - the debut novel of S. J. Watson. You might have heard that it's an addicting, incredibly well crafted, finely honed suspenseful tale that will leave you turning pages long into the night.

Everything you've heard? All that and more! What an amazing debut! Rights have been sold in thirty countries already and the film rights are sold as well.

Christine wakes up early and finds herself in bed with a middle aged man. One she doesn't know and can't quite remember how she got there.

"Usually I can remember how I get into situations like this, but not today. There must have been a party, or a trip to a bar or a club. I must have been pretty wasted. Wasted enough that I don't remember anything at all. Wasted enough to have gone home with a man with a wedding ring and hairs on his back."

She creeps into the bathroom, but the hand that flushes the toilet looks wrong. And when she looks into the mirror, there's a middle aged woman looking back. That can't be her - she's twenty five, that woman is at least 45... And then the man wakes up and tells her who she is - his wife. His wife who had a bad accident that left her with head injuries and severe amnesia. She literally cannot remember anything from day to day.

"You've had amnesia for a long time. You can't retain new memories, so you 've forgotten much of what happened to you for your entire adult life. Every day you wake up as if you are a young woman. Some days you wake as if you are a child."

Ben her husband goes off to work. The phone rings and she answers it - it's a man who says he is a doctor treating her and tells her to look in her closet for her journal. And along with Christine, we read what she remembers. Until she goes to sleep and forgets it all again.....

Can you just imagine waking up with no memory and reading a journal you've written with what you've learned or remembered about yourself? Every day. As we get further and further into her journal everyday, the questions arise - should Christine trust the doctor - or her husband?

S. J. Watson has done a phenomonal job at intensifying the suspense and building on it in subtle layers. I was reminded of classic Alfred Hitchcock films. The ratcheting tension is thoroughly delicious. The cover art is great too, with the fogged mirror and the woman peering through. Loved it, loved it, loved it!!

Be warned - you won't be getting too much shut eye yourself until you turn the last page of Before I Go To Sleep.
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on November 8, 2011
This book was beautifully written. It was quite interesting to read about amnesia and how it affects the lives of the victim and his/her family. I thought the book dragged on quite a bit however, I was waiting for something to happen, and had to wait until the very end. However, SJ Watson still kept readers somewhat interested with little hints here and there of what was to come, and then toward the end, baffled us with a twist.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon September 20, 2011
Pros: sympathetic protagonist, good pacing, tension builds to a strong climax

Cons: some plot twists are predictable

Every morning Christine Lucas wakes up next to a stranger: her husband, Ben. An accident has robbed her of the ability to remember the past 20 years and to retain new memories.

She quickly discovers she has been keeping secrets from Ben, in the form of Dr. Nash, a doctor trying to help her regain her memories and a diary she's been keeping for the past few weeks. A diary that has, 'DON'T TRUST BEN', scratched into the front page.

This was a quick read that pulls you in from page one. The plight of a woman who has no idea who she is, who learns things each day and then forgets everything, is gut-wrenching.

Ben is alternately a sympathetic and sinister character. Christine discovers he lies to her, but isn't sure if it's to keep her from feeling grief over the events of the past or for another purpose.

I was able to guess a few things that would happen, but the climax was strong and contained a few twists I didn't predict.
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on October 26, 2011
I could NOT put this book down. I was engrossed throughout the whole novel - trying to figure out what was going to happen with Christine.

The only downfall of the book, was that it seemed it was almost anti-climatic. 3/4 of the book builds the reader up & as the reader, you think you're getting close to a fulfilling, detailed ending. But, before you know it, the book is over & the ending leaves a lot to be desired. Watson definitely could have spent more time developing the ending, instead of wasting the reader's time by repeating over & over that Christine has just woken up & has to look at the photos around the bathroom mirror...
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on October 8, 2014
BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP by S.J. Watson has been made into a movie which stars Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth and the book is an International Bestseller.

Before I decide whether or not to go see the movie, I thought I would read the book to see if it lives up to the hype.

Imagine losing your memory every time you go to sleep. (Think of Adam Sandler & Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates for a comedic take on this situation.)
However, seriously speaking, it would be horrible to wake up every morning with no memories. Just the thought of this makes me shudder and cringe. Basically, people could tell you anything and you would have to believe them. But, with no memories, who do you trust? Are they telling you the truth?

Christine wakes up in a strange bed with a man who appears to be much older than her. She is in her late twenties and thinks she must have blacked out the previous night from too much drinking. When she looks again at the man beside her, she notices he is wearing a wedding ring. She is horrified that she has blacked out a one night stand with a man who is not only much older than her, but is also married.

She stumbles to the bathroom and sees her reflection in the mirror. She is terrified. The face looking back at her is not familiar at all. It is the face of someone at least twenty years older than herself. She also notices that she is wearing a wedding ring.

She then notices pictures taped to the bathroom mirror. They are pictures of her and the man in the bed. There are captions with the pictures and they show a progression of years with herself aging before her eyes. The picture of the man is labelled "Your Husband - Ben".

He informs her that she had an accident at the age of 29 and sustained head injuries that cause her to have severe memory problems. She is scared and confused and Ben assures her that he will always take care of her.

She starts to keep a secret diary and adds facts each day. What she discovers is a life filled with tragedy and secrets. She has written DON'T TRUST BEN inside the cover of the diary. Why did she write it? Why is Ben lying to her? What isn't he telling her?

The reveal is terrific and readers will be kept on the edge of their seats in anticipation.

A great read - although it is repetitive, but, so is her life. She has to relearn everything every day. The author does a great job of portraying her confusion and frustration.

I rate this as 4 out of 5 stars. It is definitely worth reading.
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on February 24, 2012
A well-written book. Easy read and gripping enough to keep you occupied for the week.
Nothing overly complicated or technical, pacing of the novel was excellent. I disagree with reviewers who said it was too repetitive - it's called character development people! You're dealing with an amnesiac who can't form new memories...what did you expect?!

Don't expect to learn a lot about the condition as it is not very scientific (which were my expectations). Instead, this is a nice intro and might urge those interested to delve a little deeper into neurological conditions.

Readers should not rate this book poorly because of the "idea" they had in mind was not met, or the misconceptions led by other readers. Rate it for what it is. A great debut for the author. S. J. Watson has lots of potential & it will be nice to see where his career leads him.

Sit back and enjoy :)
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on October 19, 2011
This book was amazing. It took a little to get into it... But the ending was so unsuspecting and exciting! I highly HIGHLY recomend this book! I couldn't put it down. I'm a pretty slow reader and finished it in 2 days! Amazing.
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on July 4, 2011
For the most part thrillers focus primarily on plot while the main character and narrator fall into one of a very limited number of categories. For the most part, the Mc will be brilliant, a member of law enforcement, and highly moral. With this archetype as his or her base, the thriller author has only to paste on a few distinguishing characteristics, making his or her hero a black single dad, a quadriplegic criminalist, or a female forensic anthropologist. In these novels it is the events of the plot that are of importance, not so much the characters who participate in these events.

However, there have been, of late, a string of somewhat more literary thrillers that focus on the mundane aspects of daily life, relying on a unique narrative voice to imbue these otherwise banal events with suspense. Emma Donaghues' novel Room, in which the narrator is a five year old boy who has been raised in captivity, is such a book. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, in which a young girl follows the aftermath of her rape and murder from a heavenly vantage point, is another. These novels create tension and suspense by presenting their plots through a unique lens.

S.J. Watson's Before I Go To Sleep is the latter sort of thriller. His narrator is a woman named Christine and she is incapable of creating new memories. Every morning she awakes without any knowledge of the past twenty-odd years. In fact, her lost memories include some that predate the event that led to her condition. Every day begins only with questions and mysteries, so that even the most basic of information is, to her, a shocking revelation. She does not recognize her husband, nor does she remember her wedding day, or the day they met. She does not know what she studied in school, or which career she embarked upon after graduation. She does not remember what she ate the day before, or how she might have acquired that bruise above her eye.

Comparisons can be made to the film Memento, but Christine's condition is more akin to that suffered by Drew Barrymore in the terrible Adam Sandler comedy 50 First Dates. But here Watson treats Christine's situation, and the trail of truths, half-truths and lies she must navigate, with chilling seriousness.

Watson's debut hooks and reels you in with a fascinating exploration of daily life skewed by its protagonist's unique perspective, not unlike Genova's Still Alice, but there's a sharper, hidden edge to this particular tale . . .
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on March 20, 2012
I am unable to write much because I am way too exhausted. Why? Because even though I have a baby and work a day job out of the home; I did not go to sleep until I after 3am because I was too intrigued, to enthralled by this book.
Each page sparks curiosity to quickly get to the next.... so much that I found myself sometimes skimming paragraphs to "find out" what would happen next.
Want a good page turner? Grab this book. But block a significant amount of time out for yourself. You won't put it down!
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