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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

Enormously Enjoyable But Distinctly Disturbing

Before I Go To Sleep - S.J.Watson

The best thriller I've read for years, Before I Go To Sleep is the story of a woman whom trauma has left unable to form long term memories. As a result, she is obliged to recreate her life from scratch on a daily basis.

Each morning she wakes up with no knowledge of the room she finds herself in and no recognition of the person in bed next to her. When she stumbles to the bathroom she is profoundly shocked at the face that stares back at her from the mirror, a face that looks ten years older than she feels herself to be.

That's the starting point. Now add a plot straight out of your worst nightmare and some clever structural tricks by the author and you get a really compulsive, edge-of-your-seat, reading experience. If you've seen the films Memento or Mulholland Drive, you'll have an idea of the sort of territory we're in. But Before I Go To Sleep is much more readable than that comparison suggests. I found it to be completely absorbing and enormously enjoyable while at the same time, distinctly disturbing.

It didn't change my view of the world or give me any great insight into who I was but it did keep me up to the small hours, desperate to know the ending but deeply anxious about what I would find.