Is BookTok right about ‘The Silent Patient’?

By Jaime Babiera

The title reads The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. Does it ring a bell? I will not be surprised if it does. This psychological thriller novel is all over TikTok. Most, if not all, of the content creators that reach my feed seem to regard it very highly. Why is everyone so invested in this book? I guess there is only one way to find out.

I immediately jumped on the hype train and started reading its first few chapters as soon as I got hold of my copy. It took me less than three days to reach the last chapter, which left me in disbelief for a few more days afterward. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” That was all I could say after I closed the book and put it on my bookshelf.

Should you read it? If you’re looking for a straightforward yes-or-no answer, I’m afraid this column will not provide you with any. I cannot speak for everyone. But in another way, let me help you make up your mind. In the following paragraphs, I’m going to share with you some significant elements that I appreciate a lot from this phenomenal book.

First, it is universally accessible in terms of language and composition. The words are carefully chosen. The sentences, although creatively constructed, remain in a digestible format that is very easy to understand. Trust me, you don’t have to read a paragraph twice just to make sense of what’s going on.

Second, the chapters are very short. If my memory serves me right, the longest chapter I have read from this book only contains seven or eight back-to-back pages. Does it matter? Yes, at least for me. I’m not sure if you have the same preference. But when I’m reading a book, I tend to enjoy it more and finish it much quicker if the chapters are brief. Thank God Michaelides appears to know it very well.

Third and last, the plot twist is unpredictable. OK. I’m getting ahead of myself. Maybe some readers actually see it coming. Unfortunately, I’m one of the many who obviously don’t get a hint until Alicia Berenson, the silent patient, speaks again in the latter part of the book. Oops! Is it a spoiler? I don’t think so. Alicia talking anew is not the major turning point of the story. There is more to it. And I guarantee the real plot twist will force you to flip a few pages back and wonder what you’ve possibly missed along the way.

I suppose BookTok is right about numerous things. For instance, the development of the story in the first part of the book is leisurely slow, whilst the last few chapters leading up to its final summarization are a bit rushed. Many readers, myself included, will certainly appreciate it more if the author takes more time to unfold the chilling turn of events in the closing section of the novel. But other than that, I truly believe that The Silent Patient is indubitably a good read. I would go as far as to say Alex Michaelides has produced a real work of art. If it happens that you decide to read this book in the future, I hope you enjoy it the same way I do.

Email: / X: @jaimebabiera