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"The Silent Patient," by Alex Michaelides: Book Review

Victoria is an avid reader whose opinions are based on how each novel ranks within its genre.

Book review of "The Silent Patient"

Book review of "The Silent Patient"

The Plot

Alicia Berenson was just a painter, living a semi-lavish lifestyle with her endearing husband, Gabriel. She was pretty and a little troubled but not insane . . . not until she shot Gabriel in the face five times and never spoke another word after. No one knows why she did it and her silence only paints her portrait as guilty.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist obsessed with Alicia's case, he leaves his already reputable job to work for The Grove, a psychiatric facility that isn't far from shutting its doors permanently, but Theo needs to know Alicia. Soon he takes on an investigation of his own into the life of Alicia Berenson before her husband's murder, and he uncovers the truth behind the silent patient.

Why I Loved This Book

Steady Flow: I read The Silent Patient in approximately two elongated sittings because I just could not put it down. The novel is meticulously written to just give you enough information to keep you guessing—but never enough that you honestly feel like you're getting it right.

Emotional Connections: I can't imagine it's easy to write about a character who doesn't speak and brutally murders their husband but still create a form of empathy between the reader and the primary character. Author Alex Michaelides uses a simple yet effective trick in order to accomplish this connection. Basically, by having Alicia write a journal about the events leading up to her husband's murder, we learn the emotional drive of the character and create a connection for she is simply just another damaged soul trying to make the best of her life with a husband that she seems to loves.

...we often mistake love for fireworks - for drama and dysfunction. But real love is very quiet, very still. It's boring, if seen from the perspective of high drama. Love is deep and calm - and constant.

— Alex Michaelides, The Silent Patient

Love as a Theme: A driving force in the book is the concept of love, but not love in the traditional sense. We are constantly pondering as a reader what is acceptable and unacceptable in a relationship and to what lengths will a person go to for or against the ones they love. What I really enjoyed about this exploration was how it twisted relationships not just between the main characters and the partners but also between their friends and family.

The End: All my reviews aim to be spoiler-free so this will be no exception, so without giving too much information away I have to inform you that I thought I knew what was going to happen. I thought right from the beginning that I was smarter and had everything figured out and it was so obvious that I only had to finish the book just to prove my own arrogance. Boy was I wrong. I actually had to reread the last chapter just to regather all my wits about me for I was wrong! The ending of the book is brilliant, masterfully written and overall extremely satisfying for the reader. So if you start this novel and feel like you might have to DNF it (Do Not Finish) . . . stick it through!

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Why Some Aren't Finishing the Book

When entering a psychological thriller it's important to know that its purpose is to make you think. The reader isn't meant to know what happens right off the hop but slowly be fed little hints throughout the ride. Some have action but usually, it's pretty limited.

The Silent Patient has received a lot of hype since its release especially about its epic ending, therefore drawing in readers who don't typically read this genre. It is a story with a slow build and very minimal action, so if you are not a reader who can be driven by the why of a story then it is very likely you will DNF (Do Not Finish) this novel.

Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive, and will come forth later, in uglier ways.

— Sigmund Freud

My Verdict

The Silent Patient is a must-read, especially if you are new to the psychological thriller genre. I couldn't put this novel down and highly recommend that if you decide that this novel is next on your TBR (To Be Read) list that you figure out how long it will roughly take for you to read it, find the time and just sit down and do it. From many other reviews, I have read those who do not enjoy the book purely just find it drags out, I do not agree. Understand that some stories are better read like a bandage. Rip it off. Don't take your time to absorb it but simply read it and enjoy it as if it were a movie.

If you end up reading this book, let me know what you thought of it in the comments below. If you have another juicy psychological thriller you think I might enjoy as well leave me the title and author's name!

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Questions & Answers

Question: Is "The Silent Patient" a true story?

Answer: No, it is a work of fiction.


Sarah Barnett on September 28, 2019:

I read the entire book in a day (not even staying up late) and thoroughly enjoyed the pace and the twist.

I watch alot of Psychological thrillers so have a good understanding of them and this book has some of the greatness of The Sinner which was one of the best series to ever come out in this genre by a long way. I loved the element of thought provocation and a few tit bits got me gnawing on some personal matters too. Better take a second book on holiday as this one gets devoured quick.

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