Monday, August 3, 2020

Alex Michaelides: The Silent Patient

In his debut novel Alex Michaelides introduces readers to a woman who refuses to talk about the death of her husband:

Alicia and her husband Gabriel seem to have the prefect life, perfect marriage. She is a famous painter and he is a famous photographer. But their perfect life is about to be shattered when on evening Gabriel returns home late and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, After that moment Alicia has not said a word. Alicia's refusal to talk or give some sort of explanation as to what happened has put the whole night into mystery and even brings up the question as to whether she actually killed her husband. Theo Faber is a psychotherapist who has waited a long time to get to treat Alicia, and when a position within the hospital she is staying at opens, he jumps at the chance. Theo believes that he can be the one to make her speak, to find out what really happened that night, but the search for the truth may very well consume him.

This book received a lot of praise last year and even won a 2019 Goodreads award plus it was hyped as a thriller novel so I knew I would be reading it. Not going to lie I am in the minority with my review, I just found the whole book rather dull. I will admit that I did not guess the twist in the end (which is always high praise from me) but I was pretty bored along the way. I just kept waiting for some type of progress to be made but it basically just happens with a sudden burst in the end. I don't think that you can tell that this is a debut novel with the writing, writing style and format, I think what is lacking, in my opinion, is the ability to create suspense and thrills using techniques to flesh out the atmosphere.

I think there is supposed to be suspense built in, as we help Theo try to uncover if Alicia did actually kill her husband and if she did why but I just never found it there. It has a cat and mouse feel of it as Theo chases the answers that Alicia refuses to give, but it is much more of a mental cat and mouse game. I think the psychology aspect and this mental game that Michaelides uses and develops throughout the book was really well done and interesting, I just did not think that it was enough. Honestly, I think the most suspense that occurs is when Theo is convinced that his wife is cheating on him and decides to follow her one night.

And I have to ask Why that ending? It was a very interesting as it still leaves room for lots of assumptions to come, maybe that was the point, but I think after investing so much time into the book and the overall slowness of it that the audience deserved something more.

This is the first book that I have read by Michaelides and there were some aspects within the book and Michaelides' writing style that I liked, it just lacked the overall feel of suspense and thrills that I was looking for. However, I would try another book by Michaeldes.

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