The Silent Patient's Final Chapters Were Explosive and Worthwhile | Review: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

11:38 PM

I definitely had my doubts there for a minute. But, hoo, boy, The Silent Patient definitely threw me for a loop and redeemed its weaker points by having startled me into a conclusion.

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him....

 The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides 
Rating: ★★★☆☆

“About love. About how 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. I imagine you do give Kathy love—in the true sense of the word. Whether or not she is capable of giving it back to you is another question.”

Well, well, well. For a moment there, I was worried that this one wouldn't do it for me. It took me weeks to really get into the groove of this one, which is rare for me and thrillers. I usually hook myself into the prose from the start, but it took longer than usual with this one. Due to the slow start, I most certainly had my doubts.

But, that ending? Phew . That ending! I fancy myself fairly good at picking up the clues, but for some reason I didn't see the twist coming until it hit me and then I had to reread the chapter/reveal. (Did I mention THAT ENDING??!)

Truly, the ending made the novel itself all the more worthwhile. It made the events click into place for me. Suddenly, I had some clarity on the timeline and the motives and the crimes and the silence.

It was like I saw, after stumbling in the dark for hours. Take the little moments in the beginning, the little hints sprinkled in, that I initially glossed over and barely noticed as it flickered by? As the truth dawned on me, I could feel the pieces shuffling until they came together.

The Silent Patient did what so few thrillers rarely manage for me these days: threw me off balance. So, Alex Michaelides, if you're reading this, you literally knocked me down a few pegs and may or may not have caught my ego off guard. Kudos.

But, back to the review:

I'd been looking forward to reading The Silent Patient for months. I am not exaggerating. I mean, that synopsis and title alone were enough to pique my interest. My expectations and hopes were high, which may be why I had some issues with the beginning. I went into it with these ideas that were so high, it's possible nothing could have lived up to them.

Don't get me wrong: Alex Michaelides didn't disappoint, per se, but it did take some time for me to really get into it. Which separated me from giving it a four or five star rating. I loved Michaelides' writing and the way he portrayed the story, and paced the big reveal. If a narrator can mess up my mind, I'm all in and completely in awe. I felt like both in Theo's narration, and Alicia's journal, I'd never quite knew what to expect from either of them--I just felt this big, unsettled feeling that had begun to scream at me: don't trust anyone.

And, I think, that is the biggest advice I can give to readers. Don't trust a single soul in The Silent Patient. I think this is a testament to the fact that, despite its flaws, despite my issues with some plotlines being thoroughly unresolved, Michaelides crafts a perfectly good thriller that will leave readers in shambles by the end. A good writer can make us loathe, distrust, and even adore, their characters--Michaelides did that.

The Silent Patient had its moments of cliche tropes and predictability in terms of the genre, but for the most part it kept my on my toes. The ending was enough to capture my attention. The fact that I read this on a cold, gray, rainy autumn evening only made the atmosphere all the more bleak and tense.  

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