“You know, one of the hardest things to admit is that we weren’t loved when we needed it most. It’s a terrible feeling, the pain of not being loved.”
TITLE & AUTHOR: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
PUBLISHED : February 5th 2019, by Celadon Books
MY RATING: 2.5/5
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…
Hello dear readers! While last week I talked about a novel which lives up to its hype, this week it’s the opposite. The Silent Patient currently holds a whooping 4.09 star rating on Goodreads, given by over 430,000 readers. It is a favorite for quite a lot of people, but what I thought is that it was a pretty basic, poorly written thriller that didn’t surprise me in the least. I don’t want to sound pretentious, because I’m not. A lot of you know that I’m one of those people who give away stars like candy, so in truth, I should have given 2 stars to The Silent Patient.
The plot is a bit all over the place. The writer tried to simultaneously write several timelines: the present, where the main character Alicia is institutionalized for murdering her husband in cold blood for no apparent reason; the timeline of her new therapist, Theo, and his issues with his unfaithful wife; and Alicia’s past, which is read through her diary, leading to the murder. I adore multiple-timeline novels, I just think this one wasn’t done well, so it makes for some confusion at the beginning. The confusion seems to be there to lead us on a false lead, towards the great reveal in the end, but in my opinion it’s just bad writing.
There are also several subplots which lead nowhere, like the issue between Alicia and her brother in law, then her relationship with her aunt, father and mother, and several more, which I presume are also placed here to make us follow a false lead, but even after they succeeded and made a fool of us, they should have an end, a resolution, otherwise it’s glaringly obvious these stories are just there to bury the lead. They don’t mean anything.
Since Alicia is mute ever since her husband was murdered, we don’t know why she killed him. They were described as madly in love, but her diary shows us the opposite, but she still has zero motive. We are presented by several men who could be other suspects, like the brother in law, or Alicia’s cousin, or her coworker, and it seems they were given bad characteristics and made bad decisions just to be presented as possible suspects. I think that looks bad and lazy.
The end has a huge twist which goes sour. Once we find out what actually happens, which I admit I didn’t predict, the reason it happened for is just not good enough. It seems like everything was leading up to it, to this accumulation of feelings and rage, but in real life that is just stupid if you ask me. The motive is stupid and not good enough. Even if the writer wrote a different motive into the twist, that still wouldn’t save this novel because it’s average all over.
The characters are unlikable, and not because they were written that way, the plot is all over, there are loose threads, so I don’t really get what makes this book anything over 3 stars for someone. I did manage to read it in two sittings, but it was because 1. it was a part of a readathon I was participating in, and 2. it was simple to read (Not a compliment). Unfortunately, I don’t want to read anything else by Michaelides, even though there’s a potential in his writing, and I don’t want to because I just don’t think he’ll get better at writing. He’s being told he wrote a bestseller, so he doesn’t have anything to learn from.
It doesn’t happen often that I dislike a well-loved novel, because I honestly think I can discern good writing from bad, but not everyone has the same taste, and I guess the bad writing wasn’t as bad for some people, or they decided to ignore it to enjoy the plot. I couldn’t. And didn’t.