Book Review – The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Um. So I know that this is like a huge bestseller and has a lot of good reviews, but I HATED this book. I’ll get into why. But like. It’s kind of gross. So I’m putting this trigger/content warning at the top of the review – the mental health representation in this book is abominable. Just so everyone is warned right up top.

In The Silent Patient, a woman – Alicia Berenson – murdered her husband one night several years earlier, and she hasn’t spoken a word since. The book is told from the point of view of her therapist, and follows how he tracks down the people from her past – INCLUDING HER PAST THERAPIST – to try to figure out how to both get her to speak again and figure out her past to find the motive for the crime. Then there’s a big plot twist at the end, obviously. But I’m hoping you can already see the issues with this book.

3 Things I Loved

Lol. For the first time, I’m not putting anything in this category. I didn’t like the writing. I didn’t like the characters. I didn’t enjoy the plot. I only finished it because we all read it for book club and I wanted to see if the plot twist was going to be worth the hype at the end.

It wasn’t.

Dislikes/Problematic Content

Well, shit, here we go.

First of all, I really want to address the mental health stuff. It took me a while to notice it, honestly. That’s how fucked up mental health care is in general! It shouldn’t be normalized to dehumanize people, to only refer to them by their diagnoses. It shouldn’t be normal to throw around words like “crazy” and “psychotic.” All of it should have felt as gross as it was written, but our society has told us that it’s okay to say those types of things about people who receive treatment for their mental health. So that by itself was disgusting and deserves all the content warnings.

Second of all, the narrator was a complete asshole. I tend to like books with unreliable narrators, but good grief, this was so far from that. I can tell that’s what was intended – psychological thriller with unreliable narrator! Ew, no. That’s not what this was. This book was told from the point of view of a boring douchebag. A boring, SELFISH douchebag. Also, some of the liberties taken to find out information about Alicia’s past were AWFUL. He visited her remaining family. He talked to her former therapist. He found her friends. A boring, selfish, ENTITLED douchebag, that’s what this narrator is.

And third, this book was boring. It took me almost three weeks to read it. WEEKS. TO READ A THRILLER. Because for most of it, I was just really bored. So. There you have it.


A reminder of the rating scale:

  • Red = DNF, I hated everything
  • Orange = Ugh, no thank you
  • Yellow = I mean, I’ve read worse, but there were problems
  • Green = This was good! 
  • Blue = Oh my gosh, I loved this book!
  • Purple = This is the unicorn of books and I will be rereading it until the binding falls apart and EVERYONE should be reading it!

Well. I think you can probably guess where this is going. I finished the book (somehow), so that eliminates the lowest possible rating. But I hated it. A lot. So! I’m giving The Silent Patient an ORANGE rating. Because it’s gross, yo.

Find a better book than this one! Oh, and happy reading!

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