Billed as a worldwide best-seller, Before I Go to Sleep had a lot to live up to. I was curious to understand why this book was so over-hyped and why it was considered to be worth developing as a film. The high concept amnesia plot element must have made it sufficiently commercial to warrant the attention of the film industry, but Memento it is not.
I was unable to suspend my disbelief at the plot flaws (of which there are many). It does rather insult the reader’s intelligence, especially those in the UK where the book is set. In other countries where you have to pay for healthcare, I suppose a former patient like Christine could get lost in the system, but in Britain we have the NHS. For a start, nobody leaving a secure unit would be discharged without an identity check on the caregiver: there would be a series of follow-ups and the patient’s GP would be integral to that care. Christine’s psychiatrist, Dr Nash displays a worrying lack of professionalism that at times made me want to give up on the book.
Christine is, of course, an unreliable narrator by the nature of her condition and we only see the other characters through her eyes. Someone that self-absorbed has no way to make light of her situation and although I felt sorry for her situation she didn’t really engage me as a character. I also found the amount of repetition tedious. Although billed as a psychological thriller, the middle section of the book lacked sufficient plot twists and turns and the only thrilling element kicked in at the end.
Not a bad effort for a first novel, but I’m still left scratching my head as to why this book gained so much attention. I received a free copy as part of the film tie-in promotion.