The Silent Patient
My Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 4 out of 5 ⭐️‘s
This is a review of the New York Times best seller The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. It is Michaelides first novel, and after being released in February of 2019 it hit the NYT’s best seller list almost immediately— within only a couple weeks. The Silent Patient is a suspenseful psychological thriller, and as Michaelides first novel I’m sure he is very pleased with the attention it has received. Even though it is his first published book, he was already established as a screen writer before the publication, and lucky for us, it has already been announced that The Silent Patient will be made into a movie. Hooray! So, why did I have an interest in this book? Well, as I have iterated before I tend to read mainly nonfiction books. I love to learn, so when I do read, it is with the hope to absorb as much new information as possible— whether that be from memoirs, true stories, or information about personal growth— it varies depending on what I am hoping to learn about at the moment, but I usually stick to those genres. I do love a good suspenseful story though, so I like to mix it up from time to time, especially if I hear of a good psychological thriller. The great thing about that genre of fiction in particular is that it usually dives deep into layered personal, familial, psychological, and emotional struggles which really make you think, almost as much as a nonfiction piece would. So, I will say, this one does not disappoint. It kept me analyzing, questioning, and in anticipation up until the very end.
What is it about?
I have to be careful here because this novel is purely fiction and most of the fun in reading a book like this is to know as little as possible before going into it. I will be brief and attempt to give you just enough information in order to intrigue you and hopefully peak your interest. The book is written in the first person narrative by Theo Faber— a psychotherapist who has just landed a position at a secure, secluded psychiatric hospital in North London. The narration alternates between his day to day experience, and excerpts from Alicia Berenson’s diary. Alicia’s diary is detailed and includes an account of her life as a painter and about her relationship with her husband, Gabriel— who she ultimately shoots in the head point blank five times at their residence— immediately after the incident Alicia slits her wrists (unsuccessfully) and goes completely mute. Because of her mental state, instead of sentencing her to prison, the court commits her to a psychiatric unit, the same unit where Theo has just been hired. Theo expresses that he has always had an interest in treating Alicia and after he is granted permission to take her on as a patient much of his narration is about their one on one sessions— where he attempts to piece together what happened to Alicia in her past, and why she killed her husband.
I love how this story kept me guessing up until the end— usually I am able to piece together thrilling story lines such as this, but because of Michaelides skilled writing and story telling, I could not figure this one out. I also like how the narration flips back and forth between Alicia’s diary and Theo’s account, it gives it a Gone Girl feel, and adds to the suspense. Side note: for anyone reading this who hasn’t read Gone Girl, before you do anything else— read that book. I also like the detailed descriptions Michaelides uses, he was able to captivate each of my senses— I could see, smell, and hear everything he wrote about, as if I were right there. I also like how he delves into the psyche of the characters, exploring the deep layers of love, betrayal, fear, and childhood trauma.
I don’t have much criticism with regard to this novel. I will say it was a bit of a struggle to get into at the very beginning. It took a few chapters to hook me, but once I was hooked I stayed hooked. The book explores some pretty dark topics, such as— murder, suicide, drug use, infidelity, and in addition to that there is a decent amount of profanity used— perhaps making it a little too “R” rated for some readers. Also, after finishing the book I identified a couple of small things that don’t quite add up, ultimately leaving me with some unanswered questions. However, they are tiny things that don’t impact much of the plot, they just didn’t seem to fulfill or line up with the story after I understood the ending.
My Take Away
I was genuinely sad when I finished this book! I pined for it in the days following, and I’m actually considering re-reading it right away. If you love a good psychological thriller then I highly recommend this book. It kept me in such suspense and by the time I got to the last ten chapters I literally couldn’t set it down until I knew the ending. I love books like that! For Michaelides first book— he nailed it. I can only imagine we will be seeing more of his work in the near future. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in then grab a copy and let me know what you think! In the meantime, I will be here impatiently counting down the days until the release of the movie!
Have you read The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides? If so, what did you think about it? Do you agree with my review? Disagree with it? Please let me know in the comments section below!
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