I picked up The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides simply because I’d heard very good things about it. I read it during its big hype and I’m very glad that I did. There wasn’t a moment during reading it where I wasn’t utterly fascinated with what was going to happen next.
The Silent Patient is one of those novels where you’re kind of just reading along and then all of a sudden it clicks as to what the purpose of the novel is and you’re utterly drawn in. It does also help that I read this during lockdown last year during a wonderful summer.
Plot – 4/5
The Silent Patient follows the story of Alicia Berenson and Theo Faber. Alicia was a famous painter married to an in-demand photographer, seemingly with the perfect life. However, one day she savagely kills him and goes into a long silence, speaking to no one about the event and eventually winding up in a special home. Theo Faber then comes in fascinated by her story, as a criminal psychotherapist, and begins his attempts to get any sort of story out of her.
It’s quite fascinating to read Theo Faber’s attempts to make Alicia talk and as the story develops, the small drip-fed surprises and mini cliffhangers we’re given as a reward for persisting. Without any spoilers, there’s a cracking plot twist within this book that I didn’t see coming. I like to think I’m usually quite good at guessing plot twists that might be coming up but I specifically remember sitting in my garden and going “woah” out loud when this one hit. So look forward to that!
Overall though, the actual story happening is a little less than riveting. A lot of the book is anticipation and build up so I can’t give it a five star for the plot.
Characters – 4/5
Though not particularly fascinating, the characters in this book were well developed. Michaelides clearly had an idea in his head of the plot and how he wants to characters to fit into it. There are supporting characters who add to the story who are well woven in and some of these have quite large personalities which fit the setting Alicia and Theo find themselves in.
The deep dive into the psyche of Alicia is quite an interesting journey and definitely adds another layer to the book rather than keeping it as a simple mystery tale. I also have a lot of time for the fact that Theo isn’t a detective solving a case. The author clearly wanted him to have a deeper motive to find out the real truths and this is his love for the human psyche and why Alicia has gone silent.
Summary – 4/5
I often decide my book ratings based on how I’d recommend a book to someone. Three-star is a “meh, it was OK but don’t rush to read it.” A four-star review is usually “ooh yes, I’d recommend that.” And a five-star review is “definitely read it, put it to the top of your list.” The Silent Patient falls into “ooh yes, I’d recommend that.” It’s got a great twist that I think people should experience and the actual premise of someone who remains silent for so long and why is very interesting.
My reason for marking it down one is that there’s a slight lack of actual plot movement in between the cliffhangers and I didn’t fall in love with any of the characters. Though, I’d recommend this book to anybody who loves a good crime book or an intriguing thriller.