Tuesday, January 27, 2015

2. Before I Go To Sleep

Slow, slow, slow. I know that this is going slower than it should be. Life keeps getting in the way of both posting and reading, and it’s not good for my goals! I’m still going to read 84 books, don’t you worry about that. I’m a little behind schedule, but not entirely out of the game, so stop worrying, ok?!

Now, I will say that 12 inches of snow definitely helps with the “catching up on reading” portion of my life. I haven’t had so much to do today other than sit on my couch, watch tv, read, and clean…so I’ve already finished one book, and am mostly through a second one. And it’s also helped me finish this blog post.

With that in mind, Book 2 of Project 84 2015 is:

Before I Go To

Before I Go To Sleep
by S.J. Watson

In order to explain what led me to this book, I need to make a small confession about myself: I don’t watch horror movies. I just don’t. The fact is, most horror movies are not very good, so there’s that. But, in addition, I live alone. Even though 95% of horror movies don’t particularly scare me, there’s still that 5% that can make me jumpy, and I don’t want to be jumpy when I’m living all by myself.

I hope you horror movie fans will cut me a little slack on this one ;)

That being said, when I see a preview for a horror movie, I have three options. I can either suffer through and watch the movie (probably 1 in 50), I can ignore it entirely, or I can do what is most common – Google it! The amount of horror movie plots I have read through on Wikipedia is almost embarrassing. I can find out the twist, and move on with my day, with jumpiness not becoming a factor.

I mention all this to explain what led me to Before I Go To Sleep. While watching TV, I came across a trailer for the 2014 movie. It looked intriguing, and I couldn’t tell what genre it was in. Were it pure suspense (which I believe it is), I probably would have just seen it. But it looked like there could be a horror component, so I took to Google. At the top of the Wikipedia page, it said this
“A film adaptation of S. J. Watson's 2011 novel of the same name.”
A little further discovery revealed that it wasn’t just a novel, but a well-reviewed novel. A well-received novel. Well, this I can do! I can read a novel, that’s not going to add to the jumpiness.

So, that’s what I did. And, let me tell you, I wasn’t disappointed. I can’t give away too much of the plot without giving away the twists and turns, but I’ll explain the setup. A woman – Christine – wakes up in a strange bed, next to a strange man. She can’t remember how she got there. When she looks in a mirror, she looks 20 years older than she did “yesterday”. The man reveals himself to be her husband, Ben, and tells her that she suffered an accident many years ago that caused some memory loss, and prevents her from making new memories.

He leaves for work, and she immediately gets a call from a therapist she’s been secretly working with. He directs her to a journal she’s been writing in, and encourages her to read it. On the first page, clear as day, it reads, “Don’t trust Ben.”

I admit, I was hooked immediately. Before I Go To Sleep is the definition of a page turner. I would go through huge chunks at once because I wanted to know what happened, I wanted to know where it was going. And the story didn’t disappoint. I promise I won’t give anything away – but the narrative hooked me until the very last page. It was engaging, I didn’t see the twists coming, and it unfolded more like a movie than a book.

In addition to being compelling S.J. Watson is also a rather impressive writer. I don’t know that the narrative would have been so successful had he (I admit, I had thought the author was a woman until I just looked into it) not been so talented.

The book did invoke one of my biggest pet peeves. Journal writing. Now, I keep a journal. It’s usually a vague recollection of what happened that day, mixed with some combination of emotional outbursts and philosophical posing. When authors use “journals” in novels, I always find that they are the most detailed, specific accounts of the day. Direct quotes, recollections of colors, tastes, strangers on the street corner. In other words, things that people couldn’t possibly remember at the end of the day.

Two-thirds of Before I Go To Sleep is Christine’s personal journal. It’s beautifully written, but I just don’t quite buy that she would be able to remember that much. I am willing to look past this pet peeve, however, for such a compelling and interesting narrative.

I would absolutely read this book. I haven’t seen the movie, but it didn’t get such great reviews. I don’t know if they changed the narrative, or changed constructs, but I do know that it was not as well-received as the novel. Having read the novel, I’d say just get that instead. I know it’s good, it’s easy to read, and you won’t be disappointed.

So there we go! Book 2 is done for good. Like I said, I just finished another book, so that post should be up tomorrow, and I’m hopefully going to put together another #ThrowbackThursday post (I’ve been having a lot of fun with those, and several people have told me that my recommendations have been good ones!).

So don’t give up on me, Project 84 fans. We’re just getting started!

Next Review: Veronika Decides to Die by John Green (Expected Posting Date: Wednesday, January 28th)

**All quotes and annotations refer to this version of Before I Go To Sleep, published by Harper Collins in 2011**

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