Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson
A Novel

77%

52 Critic Reviews

If you can stand the chill, "Before I Go to Sleep" is a delicious summer treat.
-LA Times

Synopsis

“Thebest debut novel I’ve ever read.”—Tess Gerritsen,bestselling author of the Rizzoli & Isles series

“Anexceptional thriller. It left my nerves jangling for hours after I finished thelast page.” —Dennis Lehane, New York Times bestselling author of Moonlight Mile

S. J. Watson makes his powerful debutwith this  compelling, fast-paced  psychological thriller,reminiscent of Shutter Island and Memento, in which an amnesiac who,following a mysterious accident, cannot remember her past or form newmemories, desperately tries to uncover the truth about who she is—and whoshe can trust.

 

About S. J. Watson

See more books from this Author
S. J. Watson lives in London and worked in the National Health Service for a number of years. In 2009 Watson was accepted into the first Faber Academy Writing a Novel course, a rigorous and selective program that covers all aspects of the novel-writing process. Before I Go to Sleep is the result.
 
Published June 14, 2011 by HarperCollins e-books. 371 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Jul 31 2011
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Before I Go To Sleep
All: 52 | Positive: 45 | Negative: 7

Kirkus

Good
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Jun 14 2011

Watson’s pitch-perfect writing propels the story to a frenzied climax that will haunt readers long after they’ve closed the cover on this remarkable book.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Dec 01 2016

Watson handles what could have turned into a cheap narrative gimmick brilliantly, building to a chillingly unexpected climax.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by NewYorkGirl on Sep 10 2011

This novel is beautifully written, with the author able to find things out for the first time as Christine does everyday. There is a fantastic twist at the end that makes the book that bit fabulous, and the suspense will keep you wanting more right until the last line.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by NewYorkGirl on Sep 10 2011

This novel is beautifully written, with the author able to find things out for the first time as Christine does everyday.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by John O'Connell on Apr 16 2011

The most unnerving aspect of Before I Go to Sleep is the way it is rooted in the domestic, the suburban, the trivial.

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NY Journal of Books

Below average
Reviewed by John F. McDonald on Nov 30 2016

As a psychological thriller, Before I Go to Sleep is more than adequate, but as a literary novel, it’s a book that promises much, but ultimately fails to deliver.

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Publishers Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on May 02 2011

Watson handles what could have turned into a cheap narrative gimmick brilliantly, building to a chillingly unexpected climax.

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Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by Leslie Wright on Aug 15 2011

If you enjoy a good suspense, this book delivers. It is a quick paced and depth filled look at both hopelessness and dreams. The characters are well-written and charismatic.

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Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by Nancy Fontaine on Jul 07 2011

Absorbing and thrilling, S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep is an amazing debut novel. It not only pieces together a story inspired by true amnesiacs but also raises the question of how much of who we are depends on our memories. A great read for this summer and any time afterward.

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Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by Nancy Fontaine on Jul 07 2011

Absorbing and thrilling, S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep is an amazing debut novel.

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Dear Author

Below average
Reviewed by Janine on Jun 27 2011

Despite the psychological acuity in the writing, or perhaps because of it, I did not enjoy reading the book. In fact, whereas some other readers couldn’t put it down, I found it difficult to pick it back up.

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Examiner

Good
Reviewed by Kristin Wilson on Aug 06 2012

An exciting thriller, Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson will leave you putting together the pieces until the whole story is revealed.

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NY Journal of Books

Above average
Reviewed by John F. McDonald on Jun 14 2011

The ending is as unsurprising as it is histrionic and ultimately disappointing.

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Book Reporter

Good
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on Jun 27 2011

Anyone who reads this book will not soon forget it.

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Globe and Mail

Good
Reviewed by Martin Levin on Jul 13 2011

The novel’s complex structure is equally impressive; it manages to keep us simultaneously mired and in motion.

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LA Times

Good
Reviewed by Jonathan Shapiro on Aug 06 2011

If you can stand the chill, "Before I Go to Sleep" is a delicious summer treat.

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The Sydney Morning Herald

Good
Reviewed by Justine Ettler on Jul 23 2011

...the story is intensely gripping, the main character simpatico and intelligent, the themes are universal - the price of infidelity and the disaster when jealousy runs riot - and its brain-injury subject is fascinating.

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Macleans

Good
Reviewed by Sarah Weinman on Jul 05 2011

...plucks its strings of psychological horror with the grace of an expert musician, showing us the full range of Christine’s despair, anxiety and sadness over not being in control of her life.

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Independent.ie

Good
Reviewed by Independent on May 21 2011

Watson's debut thriller about a rare condition is beautifully written, genuinely unsettling and scary.

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The New Zealand Herald

Good
Reviewed by Kerri Jackson on Jun 07 2011

Watson writes vividly and with roller-coasting emotion, so you're often overwhelmed by Christine's vulnerability; the nightmare of experiencing grief and loss afresh every day.

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New Zealand Listener

Above average
Reviewed by Craig Ranapia on Mar 23 2012

Watson’s medical background keeps Christine’s amnesia...within the bounds of plausibility, but sadly Sleep doesn’t avoid all the snares of the first book.

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ABC Perth

Excellent
Reviewed by Rob Minshull on May 05 2011

Before I Go To Sleep is, quite simply, one of the most fascinating and thought-provoking stories to be published in a very long time. A masterpiece of a debut novel, it is impossible to put down.

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Booking Mama

Above average
Reviewed by Julie P. on Jul 05 2011

Despite the ending, I highly recommend BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP. It would make a great vacation book and I think it appeals to all types of readers.

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http://skrishnasbooks.com

Good
Reviewed by Swapna Krishna on Aug 08 2011

Before I Go To Sleep is harrowing psychological drama, and though readers will likely see what the book is building towards for its explosive ending, that won’t diminish their enjoyment.

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All the Books I Can Read

Good
Reviewed by 1GIRL2MANYBOOKS on Aug 23 2011

Before I Go To Sleep isn’t total edge of the couch heart-stopping action from start to finish but it’s a slow building psychological thriller that totally weaves its way into your brain.

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Novelicious

Excellent
Reviewed by Cesca Martin on Jan 26 2012

Despite second-guessing some of the twists and turns I still fell hook, line and sinker for some of the red herrings. Great stuff from a new writer. Don’t wait for the Ridley Scott movie – read it now. A big Novelicious thumbs-up!

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Leeswammes' Blog

Excellent
Reviewed by Leeswammes on Jun 14 2011

I wondered whether she chose the same clothes from the wardrobe every day as she wouldn’t know what she’d worn the day before. A fast and good read, very believable. Only the end was a little too convenient for my taste.

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Peeking Between the Pages

Good
Reviewed by Darlene on Dec 26 2014

I really enjoyed Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson. It is his debut novel and it is a fantastic one. I certainly look forward to more of this author’s work in the future. For now I would certainly recommend this novel to my friends!

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Pretty Books

Good
on Aug 10 2011

I managed to guess the dénouement a few pages before Christine realises and I did not find it to be unrealistic or overly dramatic. The prospect of constant amnesia is frightening enough, but imagine knowing that it was a consequence of someone’s actions? I enjoyed this début thriller immensely...

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Book'd Out

Good
Reviewed by Shelleyrae on Mar 31 2014

Before I Go To Sleep is a clever, complex thriller that hooked me from the first page and kept me engrossed to the very last.

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Jen's Book Thoughts

Above average
Reviewed by Jen Forbus on Jun 28 2011

My only disappointment of BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP came in the conclusion. It was not a bad conclusion, but compared to the extraordinary body of the novel, the ending was very ordinary.

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Musings of a Bookish Kitty

Above average
Reviewed by Wendy Runyon on Mar 12 2015

It took me a little while to get into the rhythm of the novel as I began reading, but once I did, I was engrossed in the story, finding it difficult to put down.

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Take Me Away

Above average
Reviewed by Jenny on Jul 14 2011

I didn't necessarily guess what was happening, but it didn't all surprise me when it did. I hate to minimize how good the book was, though, because I still really enjoyed reading it , but I guess my gripe is that the end didn't absolutely blow me away which I was hoping it would!

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Euro Crime

Excellent
Reviewed by Lizzie Hayes on Apr 11 2016

This is an incredible debut book. It's been a long time since I felt such involvement with a book...We talk of great psychological thrillers, but this tops them all. Highly recommended.

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Euro Crime

Good
Reviewed by Susan White on Feb 19 2012

BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP is already an award-winning novel and due to be made into a film by Ridley Scott, so a lot to live up to for a first novel. I am pleased to say, the book delivers and is a good entertaining read.

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Pop Culture Nerd

Above average
Reviewed by Pop Culture Nerd on Jun 06 2011

The only slight downside for me was being able to figure out what was going on about two thirds into the book. I wasn’t trying to spoil the fun for myself, mind you; Christine doesn’t get out much or meet many people so this limits the number of possible conclusions. But I didn’t have all the answers and Watson kept me pinned until I did.

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Confessions of a Bibliophile

Good
Reviewed by Jaime on Sep 13 2011

And the ending… The ending!! It’s been a long time since I got to the end of a book and said “Where’s the rest?” But not in a bad way. Without giving too much away, I would love to know what happens next...

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Savvy Verse & Wit

Above average
Reviewed by SERENA on Oct 28 2014

Most of the book club felt that this was a quick and entertaining read, even though many of us didn’t think the mystery was much of one. The writing was well done for the most part...

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Linus's Blanket

Good
on Jul 21 2011

Strong, smart writing and characterization of Christine’s situation makes this a delightfully suspenseful page turner. Recommended.

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Izzy Reads

Good
Reviewed by Izzy on Sep 21 2014

As a tool, Christine’s journal works well bringing the reader with her as she slowly pieces together her past. Before I Go to Sleep is a powerful page turner — worth a look, particularly for readers who enjoyed Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

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https://bookdout.wordpress.com

Good
Reviewed by shelleyrae on Mar 31 2014

Before I Go To Sleep is a clever, complex thriller that hooked me from the first page and kept me engrossed to the very last.

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Savidge Reads

Good
on Jun 12 2011

‘Before I Go To Sleep’ is a very clever book. It takes a relatively simple, and equally possible, scenario and flips it on its head. In fact it’s the very domestic and almost mundane ordinariness of the books setting which makes it so unnerving.

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Book Monkey

Below average
on Jun 07 2011

I think S. J. Watson had some pretty good ideas somewhere in this story, but sadly for me the concept of the diaries didn’t work, and I think he definitely needs to work on the writing from a female perspective! In my opinion, the writing is clunky...

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http://onabookbender.com

Good
Reviewed by Beth on Aug 26 2015

If you like psychological thrillers, you should pick this one up. It’s not as scary as say, Gillian Flynn, but if you enjoy books with a couple plot twists and a lot of intense moments, this is a book that you’ll want to check out.

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Petrona

Below average
on Jan 20 2012

It’s a challenge to sum up this book. It would be very hard for it to live up to its reputation, and indeed it does not. There are so many clunky details about Christine’s memory and living arrangements that one simply has to ignore them.

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My Cup and Chaucer Blog

Good
on Jan 03 2012

Most people I know will be receiving this book from me at some point in the future. Unlike mine, it won’t have Watson’s signature (I was fortunate enough to meet him at the Brisbane Writer’s Festival in 2011) but it will provide them with a thoroughly entertaining and downright creepy tale that will truly stay with them long after the final word.

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Book Reviews by Elizabeth A. White

Below average
on Jul 06 2011

...most people I know who’ve read Before I Go To Sleep have been quite pleased with the experience. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I didn’t enjoy the book at all, rather more that I was disappointed that what I thought could have been a truly great premise failed to live up to its full potential.

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Escapism Through Books

Good
on Sep 16 2012

I did think that the ending was just a bit too rushed, and that the resolution was somewhat pat, too perfectly open ended, in a way. Overall, this is a great book, and as it's Watson's first, it's impressive. I very much enjoyed it, and I look forward to reading more from him in the future.

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Snowdrop Dreams of Books

Good
on Jul 15 2015

I recommended this book to everyone I work with, my sister and my friends. It's a story that made a huge impact on me, it's hard to forget something so intense and emotional.

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Crime and Publishing

Good
Reviewed by Thomas Stofer on May 06 2011

Apart from a slightly far-fetched conclusion [here I am rather grasping for any sort of ‘criticism’, because it is still a real edge-of-your-seat denouement – even if one that is somewhat unlikely], this was a brilliantly written and creepily atmospheric read.

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Planet Books

Excellent
on Jan 20 2013

I don’t like predictability in books. I want to be surprised, learn something new and be thoroughly entertained. This book brought all three of these things to me for the most part.

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A New Fiction Writers Forum

Good
on Apr 12 2012

It takes skill for a writer to use this device effectively. Watson draws on his experience as an audiologist for the National Health Service in Great Britain to create a chilling scenario.

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75%

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