I don’t know why I gave this book five stars because it is definitely not a five-star book but here we are! Alex Michaelides’ The Silent Patient is a psychological thriller with a very messy and confusing plot. With unreliable character after unreliable character, you close the book thinking what did I just read.
Let’s start with the psychological part. Theo is the psychotherapist and Alicia is the patient, who seven years ago murdered her husband. After the murder, she never said a word again. Theo is slightly obsessed with her and gets a job to try and make her talk. This already makes him seem a little weird. But off he goes to work at this failing institution, breaking countless rules to try and get her to talk. But why is he so desperate? The last couple of pages might tell you that!
Being a psychotherapist I think it is clear enough that Theo is not exactly okay either. His childhood is explored early in the novel and the readers know that he has problems of his own to be dealing with. He became a psychotherapist because he admired his own so much. So one mentally unstable character helping another, that can’t go well can it?
I don’t know how reliable Michaelides’ discussion of psychology is, but the practice of anything Freudian always seems a little absurd so I think that aspect of the book just has to be pushed aside.
So then we move on to the thriller aspect. I did not find the book filling the thriller convention. Yes, I read the book in less than twenty-four hours but I was not excited or anxious, I just read fast. I think the excitement and thrill are removed by how intense and confusing the plot is — especially in the final pages. The information that Alicia’s diary uncovers (whether true or not) left me speechless. I certainly was not expecting it. I don’t know if that was because Michaelides’ is a good thriller writer or I spent so long thinking how odd Theo is that I missed the clear warning signs of the plot!
It has been a long while since I’ve read a thriller and The Silent Patient was the perfect novel to start with! It shows how engaging and captivating the genre is. Whether you are an avid psychological thriller reader or just starting out I highly recommend this ambitious five star read!