The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides is a psychological thriller that shook me with its twist. I pride myself in seeing the twist coming, but I didn’t in this one. But even more, this psychological thriller pushed at my beliefs of the unreliable narrator.
The Silent Patient
Theo Faber is a psychotherapist who takes a job at a mental institution specifically to treat Alicia Berenson who horrifically murdered her husband and hasn’t spoken since. That’s it. Simple set up, right? That’s how Michaelides gets you.
The Unreliable Narrator
I hate unreliable narrators. Yes, I would use the word hate. An unreliable narrator doesn’t allow me to connect with the character in the way that I wish because I never know whether or not they are telling the truth. I thus cannot connect with them, and the rest of the story is lost to me because I thrive on character-driven fiction.
I had just written in my journal how I found the unreliable narrator upsetting when I stumbled upon this mystery book. Wishing for a story that challenged my perception of the unreliable narrator, I was pleasantly surprised by The Silent Patient.
I didn’t know Theo Faber was an unreliable narrator until I got into the story. Michaelides doesn’t come out and tell you this the way say the reader learns about Rachel in The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. Michaelides is sneaky about it, but he lays enough clues at Theo’s feet that I immediately distrusted him.
The plot unfolds through Theo’s observations of treating Alicia, struggles in Theo’s personal life, and through snippets of Alicia’s diary.
It is suggested that Alicia leads the perfect life, and to think she would kill her husband is unspeakable. Through her diary, the reader soon learns things weren’t so great for Alicia.
Theo is a respected psychotherapist but through revelations of his past, the reader soon becomes suspicious.
What I Thought Was Going to Happen
It’s obvious from the beginning Theo is going to get in too deep with Alicia. That was not a surprise.
It’s not a surprise that Alicia’s life isn’t perfect. That’s a classic set up.
I don’t do spoilers, but I’ll give the general idea why this psychological thriller hit me right in the chest.
The Thing I Thought Was Going To Happen just didn’t. It just didn’t. The twist went in an entirely different direction. I gasped out loud. Michaelides sets up the typical psychological thriller and yanks the rug right out from under you.
And the best part?
He probably laughs while he’s doing it.
Who Should Read The Silent Patient
If you love:
- Psychological thrillers
- Unreliable narrators
- Twisted history and back story
- Disturbed characters
The Silent Patient is the psychological thriller for you.
I detest the unreliable narrator and yet The Silent Patient is one of the most refreshing books I have read in a long time. Bravo to Mr. Michaelides!