REVIEW: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

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The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides pictured

I feel that it’s best that I preface this review by saying that I haven’t read many thrillers before this one, and I dived in not really knowing what to expect or look forward to. Damn, was I in for a ride!

Its been a couple of weeks since I read the last pages of The Silent Patient, and while usually, I try to review books as soon as I’m done with them and have placed them back on the bookshelf, life got in the way and this ended up living in the draft folder for a lot longer than I thought it would.
I flew into the clean pages only knowing the premise of the story as my sister had begun reading it on her kindle a few weeks prior and couldn’t stop raving about a psychotherapist who scattered the pages with the ‘deepest’ quotes. After all the hype and commendation with which she sold the book to me, I finally went ahead and ordered my own in paperback.

One thing I absolutely loved instantly was how quickly the book sets you inside the world of the narrator. There was not much dancing around with words before telling the story. No, none of that. It felt almost like someone had sat you down to recap what happened the previous season on a crazy show you’d only heard of before the new one started, and you were there to witness the rest play out before you.

On a hot summer august night, police are called to the Berenson family home after a neighbour heard gunshots. There they discover the body of fashion photographer Gabriel Berenson bound to a chair, a gun on the floor, and his painter wife Alicia Berenson sat next to the fireplace with a haunting look on her face. The scene was bloody and obscene, and the beginning of many unanswered questions.

Alicia Berenson will not speak. She did not utter even half a sentence – not a sigh of a word or a whisper drowned out by all the noise. From her time in police custody to trial and sentencing to a psychiatric ward unit she was later placed in named The Grove, her lips made no sound even after six years.
Theo Faber, a forensic psychotherapist and narrator of the majority of the book takes a job at The Grove, intent on doing what no one else could do before; get Alicia to speak.

All of this you will learn in the very first few pages of the book and once you get through those, the search for the truth begins. What happened that night? Did Alicia really kill her husband? Whether she did or didn’t why resort to silence afterwards? What was she trying to say or convey by being quiet?

I will stop here because frankly there is not much else I can say as I do not want to run the risk of spoiling any part of the book or ruin the ‘great twist’ you were made aware was in store from every angle on the book’s cover. The Silent Patient relies heavily on the curiosity of the reader to push forward closer to the truth, whether you’ll be satisfied with the truth you find is a completely different story…

Like I stated earlier, this book took no time to put things into perspective for the reader and as a rather impatient person that fact alone was a guarantee I would stick around past the first few pages. I may be impatient as heck, but I’m certainly a curious cat.

Whilst Alicia kept her lips sealed and impenetrable giving nothing away like the look on her face, Theo feels a lot closer to the reader given that he guides us through the story. It is through him we get to know all the other characters in the book like the staff at the ward and the people that knew Alicia before that summer night.
He didn’t come off nerdy as you may imagine someone in his profession to be and his narration was often relatable and often hilarious too. As Theo takes on a rather investigative role to uncover what occurred at that terrible crime scene all those years ago, we also get to gradually learn about his life too and the childhood trauma that still affects him even as an adult.

To be honest, there’s not much I didn’t like about the book. It was quite engaging, easy to read and at times thought-provoking too. When I finished reading the book, I admit I did scroll through the web to find out what other’s thought about the insane twist as well as the way it ended, and there was a very mixed bag of opinions floating out there by which I was caught off guard by. I mean, of course, whether you enjoy a book or not is entirely subjective, however, as someone who is not most familiar with the thriller genre and would not be comparing it to the best of its kind, I personally enjoyed it very much and finished reading it pretty quickly too.

Reading The Silent Patient was like falling into a rabbit hole where the deeper down you went, the more questions you had. Because of this, it’s safe to assume the book was designed to be read in one big sitting or a short period of time. As I got closer and closer to the end, I did feel as though the plot was beginning to drag a little, but right about then the answers started to pop up one by one and my inquisitive urge to know it all kept me going.
Lastly, there were some characters in the book that I thought could have been fleshed out deeper or of whom I believed could serve a bigger purpose in the story but didn’t.

Overall, for me whatever shortcomings this book could have had were completely overshadowed by its insane plot twist. I remember reading those words as my mind registered what I was seeing while getting full-body chills. I definitely freaked out by the end and couldn’t stop talking and ranting about it for a few days after to anyone that would listen. It’s a hard book to review without giving it all away so if you’re looking for your next pick, consider this one. You are in for one heck of a ride…

Your restless romantic roamer

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