Discussion of Before I Go to Sleep

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How do you rate Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson?

1 star - poor, recommend against reading it
No votes
2 stars - okay, fair
3 stars - good, recommend it
4 stars - excellent, amazing
Total votes: 18

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Discussion of Before I Go to Sleep

Post by Scott »

Please use this topic to discuss the May 2012 book of the month, Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson. Please wait until you finish the book to read this topic because this topic will contain spoilers.

How do you like the book? Would you recommend the book to others? If I remember correctly, this is Watson's first published work. How do you like the writing?

I enjoyed reading this book very much. I think the story is very engaging and unique. I am no expert but I felt it made use of known science in the field more than is often found in fiction, which I appreciate. I also like the literary device of having the protagonist reading for most of the book what we are reading. It reminds me of Sophie's World in that way -- another book on my favorites list -- except that in Before I Go To Sleep she is actually reading about herself.

What do you think of the ending? Regarding everything that happened after she finished her original journal and started the trip with Mike, I found it to be a thrilling read. In fact, I stayed up way too late just so I could finish the book at that point. Obviously, the man we thought was Ben was made out to be sketchy throughout the book. For my own part, I suspected for a while that he would turn out to be the one who attacked her. Then of course I realized as I read that that was unrealistic when all the other people testified to how loving Ben was. Maybe the author meant for this to happen by giving extremely contradicting clues. I don't know why I didn't think to suspect that 'Ben' was the attacker but was not actually Ben. Sometimes twists can be too out of the blue and feel 'tacked on' or too ridiculous or cheesy to believe. I can't speak for anyone else, but I felt this twist was just right. It was just surprising and unexpected enough to be exciting while still fitting with the rest of the book and the suspicions to which you as a reader have.

However, in regards to the last couple pages, I enjoyed getting a reasonable explanation during the ambulance ride and hospital about what happened that she and us the readers didn't know. But a couple of things didn't jive with me about that. Firstly, I may have missed something, but I don't understand how the doctor and her best friend finding her helped that much. Did they say they rescued her at all? If so, I missed that. It seemed to me the fire was started, and then she passed out and then woke up rescued. I assumed the fire caused the fire-department to come and save her. Moving on, I don't know how I feel about the fact that it isn't made clear whether she got her memory back permanently or not. On the one hand, it is kind of a poetic ending and really puts on into the moment of her going to sleep. Also, on the bright side, it eliminated the hole in terms of the potential lack of a medical explanation for how her entire memory would conveniently come permanently back right when the book ends. But I just want to be sure she has it back especially since the original story was destroyed in the fire. What do you all think about this?

I felt the length of the story fit the story well. I personally feel like the longer a book is the more I expect to feel I get out of it when I am done. This was a relatively short book, I think, but I feel like I got a lot out of it.

Anyway, what do you all think of the book? If you have any favorite quotes or passages
"That virtue we appreciate is as much ours as another's. We see so much only as we possess." - Henry David Thoreau

"Non ignara mali miseris succurrere disco." Virgil, The Aeneid

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Post by Geneen Karstens »

I really liked the book also. Her memory loss made me think that must be what Alzheimers must be like. How very scary that must feel. I didn't like to be left hanging at the end of the story either. Although, since I like happy endings, i'm going with her memory restored.

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Post by RuqeeD »

I kind of liked that the ending was relatively ambiguous. Imo it would have been unrealistic if her memory was restored completely. It was reiterated throughout the whole book that it was serious medical condition without a ready solution or cure. Like Alzheimers, there is no cure. So, I was glad that it was left to us as readers to decide the outcome.

Overall, I did enjoy the book but I couldn't help comparing it to Memento (the movie) which I immensely enjoyed. Therefore, the concept didn't have as much of an impact on me as it would have had I come to it unaware.

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Post by lolis »

I really enjoyed this book! It was engaging, I'm just finishing reading it right now! The ambiguous ending was good, but.I would have liked to have read the first page of her new journal. 4 stars.

-- 02 May 2012, 22:34 --

It also reminded me of a movie, "50 First Dates" Adam Sandler

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Post by Harry64 »

Fairly engrossing book, interesting storyline, quite thought provoking

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Post by katarina66 »

I really enjoyed it. I did no housework for a whole day - because I had to know what happened. Yes it did remind me of fifty first dates, but with a different twist.

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Post by StephenKingman »

I really loved this book and found it a taut and gripping thriller, where you could never quite trust anyone, not even the main character. I found the pace very satisfying as the mystery deepened with each page and you learned the background to her life and her alleged memories. I read the whole book in less than 2 days it was that gripping. The main mystery was well played out and especially as she hurled towards the doomed trip to the hotel with her alleged husband, the story really unfolded as even up to that point I was unsure who to trust. It was the little details that really added to the mystery, too, like an empty roundabout turning in the wind as Christine takes that first walk with her shrink, or the kid playing in the street- normal events in an abnormal situation, very well done.

My only concern with the film version is they may dumb down the story and make the lead character much younger and sexier to get the audiences in, I cant see many people wanting to see a thriller based on a 40-something London woman and her memory loss, so either the story will stay true and be a DVD movie or TV movie or else I suspect it will change quite a lot to reach the demographic, hopefully the former as it doesnt need to change one bit. An excellent book. :D
You only live once.....so live!

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Post by VampirePoe »

It was fair, but nothing noteworthy.

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Post by officefurniture9 »

Very nice book the story of this book is great.

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Post by Mindy311 »

I haven't read this book yet but it is the next on my list. I'm very interested in this subject for two reasons. One, I studied psychology for quite a few years and two, I personally experienced short-term memory loss (at the age of 23) as a result of a grand mal seizure caused by drugs administered in hospital which did not mix well. I was very lucky to survive but it was quite strange for me, my family and friends to grasp the fact that i "just wasn't tracking completely"...this was very apparent within 24 hours. But i would never know it unless my friends or family pointed it out to me...because you can't remember what you can't remember. I also lost all the piano music which I had memorized over the course of the past ten years...gone...except the first three bars. After that....a blank...If you've ever read "Flowers for Algernon" you have an idea of how this condition made me feel, except in reverse. I went from being a person most considered above average in intelligence to a person who couldn't remember what last card was played in a game, or the last paragraph just read. The good news is that there was improvement over time (and as I learned to adjust - take notes) I had to adjust to the fact that as a college student in senior year, it wasn't so easy any more. It was difficult.

Someone mentioned the move "Memento" which i saw a few times and enjoyed greatly. I loved his idea of using a Polaroid camera (old movie) to take pictures and write notes on the back so he knew where he had been and who he had talked to and what they had said.

Now, I can hardly wait to read this book "Before I Go to Sleep", and I hope I remember to buy it. I'm making a note right now.

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Post by Laura_Timmins »

Just finished it!! It was well written, and very clever of the author to keep the reader doubting and then trusting Ben/Mike. I never knew what to believe and the ending I wasn't expecting!

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Post by Donnapants »

I really enjoyed reading this book. I stayed up super late on A work night to finish it up. I was sort of disappointed by the ending in the hospital, though. I did like it enough to recommend it to several people.

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Post by D Barry »

I read a brief synopsis about the novel before purchasing the book, in brief it stated Christine’s condition and that she was keeping a journal to help her remember things, but on the front of the journal were the words "don’t trust Ben". This led me to mistrust Ben from the start and I was suspicious of his every move but I could not make sense of what his secret might be. Every time I thought I had sussed it another small twist would dispel my theory, at times I wondered whether it was Christine and not Ben who I couldn't trust such were the twists in the plot.
The story itself is superb I read it in one day: so intrigued was I to find out the ending. My only criticism would be:
Although Christine's story is harrowing and I did feel great sorrow for her, I never felt much warmth from her except in brief passages when she remembered being a mother and her friendship with Claire. Only in these small passages did I feel any quirks of her personality which led me down the road of wondering whether the writing was too clinical, too precise, I don’t know, maybe her condition consumes so much of her energy that her personality is in a state of limbo. However I still believe that the personality and the inner being would prevail and shine through.

There were two phrases I Particularly enjoyed:
1. The nineties. It was odd to hear a decade that I could not remember living through summed up in two words.
2. And there it was; my cue to tell him that I loved him too. Men always say I love you as a question.

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Post by dee91787 »

Just finished it! Only took 2 days! I couldn't put it down, it was a real page-turner! It was very detailed and I love how everything came together at the end & made perfect sense! "Ben" was shady from the very beginning, I knew something wasn't right! Great author, look forward to reading more books!

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Post by amandawas »

The one thing I loved about the book was that it was written as a person reading a diary so you were hearing about everything after the fact...so that really interested me. It was an easy read and went quickly. Unfortunately I thought it was very predictable. I thought "Ben" was her attacker before I even knew she was attacked. When I thought it was a car that hit her, I guessed that Ben had been driving the car. So the ending was not a surprise at all. Another thing that kind of bothered me was this wasn't a new "condition". It was used in 50 First Dates and Memento (which I've seen too many times). Before I Go to Sleep was still a good book to read and I would recommend it to others.

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