It is always a great feeling to see any author’s debut novel becoming extremely popular and highly appreciated by the readers. Alex Michaelides is one of the recent writers I can recall whose first published book became the New York Times Bestseller.
Alex’s novel, The Silent Patient, is a murder mystery thriller with psychological aspects. The book is loved by many, but there are some readers who find the book overrated. I have already read the novel, and today, I will give my review of The Silent Patient.
I will also provide an overview of the book so you can understand the plot before diving into the review. So, if you want to read this book or are looking for a book recommendation, then check out this article.
So, without further ado, let’s start with the book review, shall we?
Overview of The Silent Patient
Alicia Berenson is a famous painter married to a fashion photographer named Gabriel Berenson. She is now at a mental institution, living her days identified as a murderer with psychological issues.
Six years ago, Alicia was convicted as a killer who shot her own husband. A neighbor heard gunshots and called the police immediately. When the police arrived, they saw Gabriel’s face had been shot five times, and blood dripping from Alicias’ wrists. Since then, it’s been six years, and Alicia never spoke again, not even a word. She was placed in a mental institution called Grove.
The only clue to the whole case was a self-portrait Alicia created, known as Alcestis, which is related to Greek mythology. Apart from the murder story of the famous painter, her silence created more buzz among people, a mystery unsolved for years.
In the present day, Theo Faber, a criminal psychotherapist, was deeply interested in Alicia’s case for a long time and was looking for the opportunity to work with her. Theo grabbed the offer when the vacancy arrived and started his sessions with Alicia. He is determined to get her to talk, and this leads to a lot more unusual behavior and mysteries throughout the story.
Three POVs are included in the book:
- Narration of Theo and Alicia’s sessions and investigations
- Alicia’s journal entries in her diary
- The narration of Theo’s wife’s infidelity and how he stalks her
Later, the three POVs are merged, which turns into an unexpected twist that readers might not have figured.
My Review of The Silent Patient
When it comes to reading thrillers and murder mysteries, it usually gets easy to predict the ending, but there are some books where the reader cannot depict the conclusion until it is revealed. The Silent Patient is one such book whose ending was difficult to decode, and that made the book very interesting.
My experience while reading the book was great, and I personally liked the writing style of the author. The author has done an incredible job of making the novel gripping and keeping the suspense intact until the very end.
Alex Michaelides’ idea of including psychological aspects and using the theme of silence kept the mystery part going. However, a few readers felt the story was not properly penned, and the twist was a cliche. There are also complaints that the story lacks some major elements that must have been included, such as there is no POV of Alicia Berenson apart from her journal entries.
In my view, the story was well written, with the involvement of each character as needed. Alicia and Theo’s back story was emotional and heart-wrenching to read, and how their traumas still buried inside led them to choose some wrong paths.
The author has also included a reference to Greek mythology, Alcestis, which is an essential element of the story.
According to me, one of the best parts was the writing style and the unexpected twist. I believe when a story is intriguing enough and satisfies the mystery aspect, a few other small mistakes can be overlooked. I was hooked from the beginning, and there was no disappointment after I finished reading the book.
I will recommend everyone to read this amazing book. It’s fine if you do not like the plot and other things, but I’m sure you will love the ending twist and will also appreciate the writing.
It is necessary to understand the overall idea behind the story to fully grasp the underlying meaning the author is trying to explore. A few major themes are included in the book, which I will discuss below so one can comprehend better.
Empathy is one of the central themes of the story. As psychotherapists, it is required to feel the client’s pain and fully empathize with them to understand the patient’s mindset. The involvement of therapists and the demonstration of empathy is thoroughly put in the book.
2. Childhood Trauma
The trauma induced in an individual’s brain is a result of a tragic incident in their life. In the story, childhood trauma is another important theme discussed. It shows how the effects of trauma can lead to impulsive and dangerous decisions. Here, there is a depiction of a dilemma between right and wrong due to the past trauma involved in the characters’ lives.
The writer has incorporated a major theme of silence. One of the main protagonists, Alicia, has become silent after killing her husband, and nobody is able to decipher this silence. The power of silence is shown as a means of protection as well as guilt.
The novel also has aspects of deception, including many characters. There are many manipulative and deceptive occurrences throughout the story. The writer tries to convey how these elements affect the other person’s life.
5. Copism Through Art
The value of art is an essential factor in the story. Art is considered as a safe place and a coping mechanism for many. Alicia’s love for art and her way of coping and expressing herself with her paintings are incredibly narrated in the story.
Readers will see the emotion of guilt and how it leads individuals to choose risky paths, leading to their own damage. The two main protagonists of the book are seen experiencing guilt due to their actions and how they eventually find themselves again throughout the story.
Overall, The Silent Patient is a good thriller and murder mystery novel by Alex Michaelides. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and will definitely recommend it to everyone who loves reading this genre.
The writing style of this book is amazing, and the main reason why the twist was so unexpected and amazed the readers.
Have you read this book? Are you familiar with the author? Let me know your views in the comment section. I will be more than happy to read them!