Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson.

Previously, I've seen this book reviewed on other blogger pages and on Amazon. The reviews showed mixed opinions.But on seeing it for a meagre £1.50 in a local charity shop, I thought I would give it a go.

Before I go to Sleep follows Christine on her daily journey to regain a handle on who she is, as well as trying to confront the shadows of her past that come back to haunt her every day. Christine has been suffering from amnesia for twenty years. Every day she wakes up and doesn't know where she is, or even sometimes who she is. She needs to be told every detail upon waking. Today she gets a phone call which starts todays journey into the life that she doesn't know she has lived.

This book deals with very interesting ideas, such as the nature of memory, grief, betrayal, paranoia, love, fear, trust, ambitions and losses. It deals with every emotion imaginable. In one book with less than 400 pages this is quite a feat.

Image from Wikipedia
There should really be a warning that comes with it though, as there is some content which is quite shocking, that I was not expecting to read about in this book. It is not a book I would recommend to everybody as some paragraphs are quite disturbing for the average reader. This is definitely for adults, preferably not overly sensitive ones, as some topics covered may upset some readers.

Despite this, it is a wonderfully powerful book. Hard hitting and well written. On the cover of the version I own it describes Before I go to Sleep as 'unsettling'. I think this is exactly the perfect word to describe it. Of course, it being a book about amnesia some of the content is repeated and mulled over a few times, but I think this only contributes to the feeling of utter confusion and distrust apparent in the book. Other reader might be put off by the repetition though.

I barely knew that it was a thriller when reading it, until it hit me full in the face. It feels much more of a slow terror rising inside you. S.J. Watson is a good writer, but not amazing. However, Watson is very good at holding the reader at arms length, supposedly letting you in on secrets, but still having more to reveal. And that's the way I like it.

I am awarding it 4 out of 5 stars, as I am not sure it is for everyone, but for most it is a book that would be an insightful, and intriguing read.
S.J. Watson Website.
Richard and Judy Book Club Reviews. - scroll down to see more reader reviews.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

1984 by George Orwell

(Warning: Possible Spoilers)
As a classic, 1984 was always going to be on my reading list. So many people reccommend it, and now I can finally see why. The themes and ideas presented in this book make you think. This is a quality in a book that I value very highly.
Winston Smith is an average man. He works, eats and sleeps like any other person. But Winston works for the Ministry of Truth, he is a member of The Outer Party. To some he is privaleged but to him his life is mediocre and has no meaning. Winston hates The Party, and wants to destroy it, but this is thoughtcrime, punishable by death.
This is the story of the individual struggle against the oppressive dictatorship of Oceania.

Nineteen Eighty-Four is a true dystopian It is often said to be one of the first that truly captured the atmosphere of perpetual war and the ideas of what is reality and what is only in the mind, and how the mind can trick itself if you will it to.

Image from
we can see how 1984 has made its mark upon society in many ways, the most obvious being that words coined by it:  'Big Brother', 'Room 101',  'double-think', and the term 'Orwellian' also came from this book.
There are various themes, all of which are some important themes to deal with even in the most ideal life and world: Futility of war, individuality, oppression, death, life, the different natures of love, the workings of the mind and so on.

I was not sure what to make of Winston, nor in fact any of the characters. In fact there was only one person in the whole book who I felt something for, the rest of them I felt sorry for because if their experiences, not because I was attached to them in any way. The person I felt something for was Winstons mother, who may have laid down her life and her daughters' life in order for her older son to live.

I found 1984 quite difficult to read, most especially when Winston is reading The Book. This is a similar experience to how I felt when reading 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' by Oscar Wilde. I suppose this is probably because they are both classics, and also because it is, in my opinion, a very long winded and complex piece of writing in some areas. Although I enjoyed both books immensely, their themes and stories being wonderful, this is something which puts me off a book.

Although towards the end Winstons struggle with how he views society is very interesting, I was slightly disappointed in the ending of the book. As although itthe reader always knows in their hearts how it will end, I couldn't help but feel that there should have been more explosive than it was. It was a bit tame for my liking.

I am giving 1984 three out of five stars, because, although it is good story with interesting themes, it was not to my taste in terms of the ongoing war and complex writing at some points.
1984 on Wikipedia
1984 on GoodReads, if you would like a second opinion.