Before I Go To Sleep - S. J. Watson

***** Excellent suspense, even if it does not maintain its originality until the end

I definitely liked this thriller. It has everything you need to define a good book: a basic theme not yet overused, a good twist towards the end with a breaking out of events that leads to a resolution and a perfect open ending.
Memory loss during deep sleep, in fact, isn’t a easy theme to use in a novel, especially if the novel is all told from the point of view of the character who suffers from this particular type of amnesia. I believe the author has succeeded in identifying himself with Christine’s mind and transmitting this identification to the reader.
It is also clear that he did some research.
Some passages reminded me of a documentary I watched several years ago about a man suffering from a serious short-term memory disorder: it was reset every seven seconds, while he remembered well the times before the onset of the disease. And so he lived in a state of confusion, with the constant feeling of having just woken up from a coma, and it all happened every seven seconds. A real hell, witnessed by his useless attempts to keep a journal in which he kept writing, in a crescendo of frustration, that had just woken up and that what was written in the previous pages was not his work.
Something of the kind also appears in this novel in relation to Christine’s condition at the beginning of her infirmity (perhaps the author watched the same documentary?), then evolved into a form of more “manageable” amnesia, which allows the author to create a story around it from the point of view of the person affected.
Also in this case there is a journal, which actually is the majority of the text of the book.
I find the idea of using a journal quite inspired, although it forces you to suspend your disbelief from time to time to accept the fact that the protagonist finds the time to read it all every day, given its length (or even that by reading only some parts always catches those that will then come in handy on that day), but then fiction has accustomed me to quite other artifices.
Of course, the twist towards the end was obviously awaited, because it was clear that, in the sea of insecurity in which the author had made us surf for so many pages, some truth had to be hidden that had not been well developed (on purpose). Rather, the way in which a certain subject is avoided as much as possible immediately led me to suspect that the solution was there. In fact, compared to the main character, I knew I was reading a thriller and that therefore there had to be a villain. And in such a context it was obvious that the bad guy was a certain person, but the way this person was placed in the story could hardly be inferred from the elements made available to the reader. And that’s why for me it was a twist, in spite of everything.
But there is a criticism that I feel I have to rise. The character of the villain isn’t completely clear to me. The way in which it wasn’t properly developed, just to avoid bringing the reader’s doubts there, makes it yet another cliché. Perhaps this story would have been truly original if that character had not been the villain.
And this is the only element that jars in a decidedly enjoyable book, to whose pages I used to return every evening with curiosity.
Perhaps even the resolution of the story is a bit hasty, and a bit too lucky for the protagonist, but despite these flaws I decided nevertheless to give this novel five stars, especially thanks to the open ending, which is much more honest and, above all, realistic than any happy ending.

On this book the film of the same name was based, starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong.

Before I Go To Sleep on Amazon.

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