Popsugar Reading Challenge 2020: Book 10

Prompt: A medical thriller

There’s been a lot of chat on the Goodreads group about what actually constitutes a medical thriller. The general agreement seems to be that medical thrillers envision diseases becoming epidemics and villains use their medical training for more sinister motives.

With some parts of the world quarantined and my local supermarket shelves half empty because of panic buying, it seems that we are living through a slowly paced medical thriller in real life, so that did not appeal as a read.

There has been a debate about whether or not The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides counts as a medical thriller. It’s a thriller and features doctors, psychiatrists and a medical facility, so I have decided that it does. And it’s my read for this prompt.

What it’s about?

Artist Alicia Berensen has killed her husband, renowned photographer, Gabriel Berensen. She tied him up shot him repeatedly. She has not spoken a word since.

Theo Faber is a psychotherapist. Fascinated with Alicia’s case, Theo believes he could be the person to get her open up about what really happened. When a job becomes available at The Grove, the secure psychiatric facility, that Alicia is held at, he applies for the position.

What I think:

There is a lot of hype around this book. It won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Mystery and Thriller, and the cover of my edition proudly proclaims that over 1 million copies have been sold. It was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick which guaranteed it a wide audience.

The problem with reading a book where everyone raves about the big twist at the end, is that you find yourself trying to work out what the big twist was. And I personally didn’t find it such a shocker.

For me, the character of Alicia was far more far present interesting than the self-obsessed, unreliable narrator.

Theo is quite whiney. His motives for taking the job, and the eagerness with which he pursues Alicia’s therapy programme is suspect from the beginning. I also don’t have much time for adults who sneak around smoking weed like teenagers.

Alicia is interesting. Her history is revealed through her art, conversations that Theo has with some of her family and friends and snippets of a diary. The problem for me is that Theo links everything back to himself and his own feelings towards his father so I was not left with a real understanding of the complex person that Alicia was.

The novel is well-paced. The protagonist who does speak aspect is wears thin quite quickly and the author was clearly aware of that.

Don’t want to write too much in case it spoils it for future readers.

I think I may have enjoyed this more without the hype. I think it built up my expectations too much- I had similar feelings when I read A J Finn’s The Woman in the Window. So while I did find this interesting and enjoyed the twists, it didn’t blow me away. ⭐⭐⭐

The Silent Patient is available from:

Waterstones: click here

Amazon.co.uk: click here

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