“There’s so much pain everywhere, and we just close our eyes to it. The truth is we’re all scared. We’re terrified of each other.”Alex Michaelides, The Silent Patient
Title: The Silent Patient
Author: Alex Michaelides
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 325 (Hardcover)
Published: February 5th, 2019
My Rating: ★★★
Read: 10/5/2022 – 10/6/2022
Though a great definition of a psychological thriller, The Silent Patient missed the mark for me in several ways…
The story is mostly narrated by Theo, a psychotherapist who set outs to treat Alicia. Since the murder of her husband six years prior, she hasn’t spoken a word. What we know from Alicia’s POV comes from her diary entries surrounding the time of the murder. Having read Alex Michaelides’ other book The Maidens, I knew this would be a twisty story and to take every bit of information with a grain of salt. Unfortunately, having read The Maidens, I knew who not to trust almost instantly. Had this been my first experience with the author’s writing, I feel I would have enjoyed it a lot more.
My biggest issue with the book wasn’t so much the plot but rather a total disregard for authentic psychological practices and ethics. It was infuriating. There was also a lot of ‘schooling’ on psychology, however, it wasn’t congruent with what was being presented through the story and the characters. In turn, it made the book and its twists limitedly plausible. While I did enjoy this more than The Maidens, not much (and for different reasons). It was nevertheless a page-turner which is always nice to find.
Likes & Dislikes:
What I liked:
- In essence, Alicia’s character. More than anything else, I wanted to know why she went mute.
- The chapter structure. It kept me reading and before I knew it, I’d reached the end.
What I didn’t like:
- So much unnecessary text. This issue presented itself in various ways, be it trying to over-explain how mental illness and treatment works (which, as someone who was raised by a parent working in the field of psychology was laughable because there was no bigger picture and had a one size fits all mentality to it), introducing characters that didn’t need to be involved, or simply dragging out scenes.
- Too many plot holes leaving things unexplained.
- The misdirections were not well thought through. Most of them didn’t make any sense even after getting to the end of the book.
This is the group read for October with Book Santas and Lovers on Discord which was my ultimate push to read the book. It’s been on my radar since reading The Maidens because I heard a lot of people say it was a better read. I’m compelled to agree, although, this was probably a more frustrating read due to the amount of plot holes. The Maidens felt more polished if memory serves and at least with that one I had the satisfaction of being knocked off my feet by the twist. It was bizarre and pretty ridiculous in my opinion, which is why I ultimately say The Silent Patient was more enjoyable for me. (My review of The Maidens can be found here.) I’m annoyed with myself for having spent so much time comparing both of the author’s books while reading, but the writing style is so distinct it was difficult not to.
My final note: If you’re new to thrillers, this is a great place to start.