So, this book gets a capital T for Twist because OH MY GOD. I thought I saw something coming, but in the end, the reveal was way crazier than I imagined. The book is narrated by a psychotherapist named Theo Faber who is captivated by Alicia Berenson, a former artist and current patient in a psychiatric unit in North London who hasn’t uttered a single word since she shot her husband in the face five times, killing him.
You know, typical married life, am I right?
I found Michaelides’s writing to be well-paced and riveting, which makes me sort of hate him (even though I’ve never met him) since this is his debut novel. The characters were drawn beautifully, psychologically speaking, and I really enjoyed the POV of Theo, the narrator, since we got to see his clinical take on everyone he came into contact with. Yes, therapists DO always analyze everyone, all the time. You know the saying, 'if you are a hammer, everything is a nail with some kind of childhood trauma…'
I loved that the characters had strong, psychological underpinnings based on their childhoods, since you don’t always find character histories so sharply drawn in thrillers. The story, which was told through the perspective of both Theo’s POV and the diary of Alicia, was definitely a page-turner, and I read almost the entire thing on one lazy Sunday afternoon. And where the story went at the end was, WOW. Truly an incredible twist; the kind that makes you go back and reread things to figure out how the hell he (Michaelides) did that, then – perhaps – hate him even more.
My only slight complaint with the book is that some of the dialogue amongst the therapists seemed a bit too uninformed and lacking scientific rigor, which took me out of the story at times. For example, I find it hard to see a licensed clinical psychotherapist, with years of experience, saying something along the lines of, ‘she is up and down a lot, like a borderline.’ Naw, as they used to say on In Living Color, homie don’t play that. Therapists, when talking to each other, use words like comorbidity and sequelae, so that when others overhear them, those others are reminded that they are lesser mortals. Seriously, though, I think some more specificity and rigor in the way the therapists communicated with each other about the symptoms and behaviors of their patients would have helped make the world a bit more believable.
Truly, that is the only thing I can find to complain about in this thriller. I really enjoyed it and will probably reread it in the near future, as a case study in highly effective pacing, timing and plotting.