Sunday, May 12, 2013

What happens when we sleep?

This was one of those books that were recommended by people who loved this fantastic book, and OF COURSE I had no other option than to read it. I have to admit that in the connection with one of the best books I've read (at least in the last year!), my expectations were pretty high. Hearing that Before I Go To Sleep is being translated onto the big screen, I wanted to see what the fuss was about before trailers started cruising the web. So let's see what actually transpired.

"As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I'm still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me ..."

Yes, that is basically the deal. Christine's life has been a mess. Only she doesn't know it. She wakes up every morning, unaware of who she is, where she is and what she's doing there. She has no idea how old she is and whenever she thinks she knows her age, it's most certainly not compatible with the image in the mirror. She does not remember her husband nor the therapist with whom she is apparently working. She lives with her husband Ben, who explains to her every morning who she is and who he is, how she came to be this way and why she has good and bad days. Not that they're very fundamentally different but some days are a tiny bit better than others.
From the first moment on you have an eerie feeling something is not quite right. But you are just as clueless as Christine is. She starts her day off confused and usually ends it tired and sad. She has no friends because they all gave up on her during the many years of her condition. She never had children and she is wondering whether her psychiatrist is telling her the truth. Is anyone? When she finds a diary she's been keeping and tries to follow stories she's being told, she realizes the scary thing - there is no pattern. And when she finds an inscription in her diary that says "don't trust Ben", we all know something is up. But what? Did her psychiatrist play a trick on her so he can take advantage, study her case and write a book about it? Or is her husband truly hiding more than just painful little tidbits from her life? And what about the accident that left her this way?

Given that it's a debut novel, I should probably praise this more than I am. I got a bit tired of the back and forth wondering about Ben. Is he a good guy or a psycho? Who is the psychiatrist, really? Where is her best friend? Same questions every few ten pages. I sighed a lot. But the point is, even the shocking little revelations that came along the way, did not come with a boom. Gillian Flynn does this much more craftily. I know comparing art is ridiculous and a good book is nothing short of an art piece but when I think of how cleverly Flynn put little bits of information in the story in a way that made your spine crawl ... That's what I wish this book had. Because it had potential and the final revelation was horrifying. The ending was a bit too cliched for my liking but the way the book wrapped up, the really final few sentences, were perfect.

Now, Ms Kidman is supposed to star as Christine and I have to admit I like the casting choice. As of now, IMDb lists no other details of who plays Ben or who plays Christine's psychiatrist. Unfortunately this book also reads like a movie script. And if that was the goal - well done. After all, Ridley Scott jumped right in. What can be better for a first time author. Right?

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