Book Review: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Sometimes I am wary of reading brand new books. I like to know what other readers who enjoy the same types of books as me think about the newest releases before I decide whether it is for me. Seeing book blurbs from authors, particularly from my favorite authors, also makes me unsure about whether the hype surrounding new releases is genuine. When I saw the hype surrounding The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides' debut novel, I was on the fence about it, considering it is a thriller (not my favorite genre). However, once I read chapter one, I was instantly hooked.

The Silent Patient tells the dual story of Alicia, a silent mental patient who has not spoken since she murdered her husband, and Theo, the psychoanalyst who is trying the help Alicia find her voice and reveal what really happened. The story is told through Theo's perspective, with chapters covering the personal journal of Alicia filling in the gaps leading up to the death of her husband, Gabriel. Theo and Alicia's relationship becomes very complex, and it is ultimately hard to distinguish patient from doctor.

This is an astounding debut novel. Michaelides writes with such ease yet also a complexity that makes you want to keep turning the pages. You cannot put this book down once you start it; each chapters ends with you wanting to know more. The chapters are short and concise, making this book read quickly. Not only do we learn about Alicia (through her journal) but we also see how Theo's personal life is self-destructing as the novel progresses. They grow closer through their intimate therapy sessions, and even though she does not speak, Alicia's presence in the novel is deeply palpable. She is a force throughout the nature, and her journal entries shed light on her mental state right up to the scene of the crime. Michaelides weaves the story in such a way that:
1) you are not sure if Alicia is guilty or innocent
2) you question whether she is guilty, was she in her right mind, but,
3) if she is innocent, who is the real perpetrator of the crime, and why won't Alicia speak about it?
4) you wonder whether you can trust Theo, or any of the characters in the novel

There are parts of the book that get a little slow, and it takes the last forty or so pages to finally reveal the truth. But once it is revealed, the novel takes a drastic and dramatic turn. I honestly did not expect that ending and never would have imagined that that was the direction Michaelides was going. That being said, the twist was brilliant and I love when I cannot see the twist coming. He keeps you guessing to the last moment, concluding the novel with such a bang that I was blown away.

Thrillers can be a hit or miss for me. When authors use the same tropes over and over again, I tend to be put off by the genre and step away from it. Alex Michaelides has taken a new spin on the thriller genre. I loved this book, from the writing style to the characters to the atmospheric mood that the novel lends to the reader. This book, to me, definitely lives up to the hype and I cannot wait to read more from this author. I would recommend this to anyone who loves thrillers, especially those who are tired of the overused tropes that populate so many thriller novels today.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1/2

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