Book Review: The Silent Patient

The Silent Patient is a psychological thriller book written by Alex Michaelides. The story focuses on Alicia Berenson, who is said to be a murderer as she shot her husband in the face six years ago and hasn’t spoken a word since then. The murder, together with Alicia’s refusal to speak up regarding her husband’s death has caught the attention of the public and sparked the curiosity of a psychotherapist named Theo Faber. Ever since Theo had the chance to work with Alicia while she was in a psychiatric unit, he has been determined to discover the truth behind Alicia’s mystery.

I discovered The Silent Patient due to its rising popularity among readers. Despite not being a fan of thriller books, I was encouraged to grab the book and borrow it from the Mission Viejo Library because of the hype, and I could say that I do not regret choosing to do so. While reading the first few chapters of the book, there are certain parts where I felt like it was uninteresting. Although since Theo, the psychotherapist, continues to dig deeper into Alicia’s mystery, it kept me intrigued until the end of the book. There are various reveals presented throughout the story, making me wonder more why Alicia decided to carry out such actions. In the end, it did not disappoint me. The final twist was a shocker and I felt completely fooled as I absolutely did not see it coming. 

I highly recommend reading The Silent Patient to all the readers out there, especially those who are a lover of thriller stories. Also, even if you are not a fan of thriller books like me, it is still worth the try of reading it!

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie is an exhilarating mystery novel revolving around the story of ten strangers, each invited to an island by a mysterious host. Their arrival was followed by a series of inexplicable murders, causing the guests to work together to catch the unknown culprit. The novel is based off a famous poem by Frank Green titled “Ten Little Indian Boys.”

Overall, I find this book to be a fairly quick read that keeps the audience engaged from beginning to end. The setting, as well as Christie’s fast-paced storytelling and mysterious tone adds an air of suspense that leaves readers feeling anxious, yet eager to find out who the murderer really is. Furthermore, the way the author flawlessly transitions between different perspectives and gives detailed descriptions of each character’s inner thoughts leaves readers relating to, and understanding the guests at a higher level. All this combines for a fully immersive experience into the world of mystery.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a good mystery read. Agatha Christie is considered one of the best selling authors of all time, and I believe everyone should encounter her phenomenal writing at least once. However, I would be aware of the violence and overall gory imagery used, which many readers could be sensitive to.

-Aysha H.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Jane Anonymous: A Novel by Laurie Faria Stolarz

I have to say after reading this book I felt sad yet relieved. It felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I truly loved every bit of detail and description that was carefully poured into each and every chapter. It felt as if I was a part of the story myself. The feeling of betrayal of being unheard of by many others. Those who you thought you could trust. Imagine you’re being secretly watched for years and had no clue. That whatever evil has been following you creeps up behind you without any realization. Until it’s too late. It has you.

In this book we follow a teenage girl who’s wrapping up high-school with a job at her local jewelry store. She works from early morning to night. The jewelry store she works at is located near a dark forest with the surveillance cameras out of service. One night as Jane is closing the store getting ready to leave a man appears at the door. Begging for a minute. He claimed that all he needed was to buy a ring for his wife’s anniversary. Jane felt bad and unlocked the door. Little did she know this would be her biggest regret.

The man is dressed nicely. Hair styled back. His appearance charming enough to fool those around him. Just as the man chose a ring for his “wife” Jane offers him a small bag to put it in. She turns her back. The man jumps over the counter grabbing and pulling onto Jane. He forces a bag over head and drags her out of the shop effortlessly. He then shoves her into his trunk. Jane is screaming hysterically. No one can hear her. She dropped her phone in the store. The man tied the sack tight enough for her screams to be muffled. The trunk door locks. The engine is engaged. and the car zooms off into the distance. Into a land of insanity.

Jane’s phone is blowing up. Her mother and father are worried. Her best friend is calling her now worried. They were supposed to meet later. Jane never showed up. The shop is empty and everyone knows something is off. With anxiety overflowing the parents they inform the cops. A search is sent out only to find no trace of Jane.

Throughout the 6-7 months with her kidnapper Jane seems to believe she isn’t the first. She thinks she isn’t alone. But even at desperate times your thoughts may trick you. Will Jane make it out alive in one piece? Or does she seem to grow towards her kidnapper? Does she remember who she is after all this time? I have to say the ending will have you rethinking everything. You must be aware after reading you should always check your back. You never know when it’ll be your time.

-Hannah W.

Jane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarz is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Craftfully weaving suspense, fast-paced dialogue, and humor into this classic yet unique whodunnit murder mystery, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the whole novel.

First published in 1926, Christie admitted that this was one of her favorite novels that she’s ever written, and its popularity quickly helped establish her title of The Queen of Mystery. Per usual with Agatha Christie’s books, I loved how the characters were all developed perfectly, their personalities growing almost life-like as the story and mystery went on. The first-person narrative and detailed descriptions ground you in the story, and the plot twists will have you reading until the very end.

Hercule Poirot, Christie’s famous detective, adds a level of wit and cleverness to this book like no other, challenging the reader to try and figure out exactly how his mind works, and solve the mystery along with Poirot.

This has definitely been my favorite Agatha Christie book I’ve read thus far due to the revolutionary breakthroughs it brought into the mystery genre, and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

“The truth, however ugly in itself, is always curious and beautiful to the seeker after it.”

-Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd  by Agatha Christie is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Silent Patient Review

Author: Alex Michaelides 

Pages: 325

Genre: Thriller, mystery

The Silent Patient begins with a glimpse at Alicia Berenson’s picturesque life through her diary. This famous painter is married to a renowned photographer and lived the perfect life in a nice house in London. However, Alicia’s perfect life does not stop her from shooting her husband five times in the face when he returns from work. After this crime, she never speaks a word again. Five years later, psychotherapist Theo Faber finds a job opportunity at the psychiatric ward Alicia is being held and takes the job in order to examine Alicia with whom he has been entranced since her story stormed the press. Theo is determined to discover the events of that night as well as Alicia’s motive to brutally kill her husband. We get to follow him as he investigates personal aspects of Alicia’s life like her friends and family. However, each character introduces new information that makes her motive appear ever more convoluted.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. While it was a bit of a slow start as we hear about Theo’s life and mundane daily activities, the end is worth the wait. As the story continued, I too found myself anticipating the reasoning behind Alicia’s actions and definitely was not disappointed. There were a lot of hidden details throughout the book that made the resolution much more intense and mind-blowing. I would recommend this book to all readers, for while I do not particularly read many thriller novels, this one was very good.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray is an influential novel written by Oscar Wilde.  The story revolves around the eponymous character, Dorian Gray.  Early in the story, Dorian is an impressionable young man.  His friend, an artist named Basil Hallward, has painted a portrait of Dorian.  Basil is almost worshipful of Dorian’s innocence and natural beauty.  Lord Henry Wotton, known as Harry, is an associate of Basil.  Harry persuades Basil to introduce him to Dorian.  Immediately, and against Basil’s wishes, Harry begins to exert an evil influence on Dorian.  Dorian becomes preoccupied with his own youthful appearance.  He develops an intense desire to remain youthful forever.  Dorian wishes that his portrait would grow old, while he remains young.  In a mysterious way, Dorian’s wish is granted.

I consider this book to be a cautionary tale about the consequences of selfishness, conceit and other sinful behaviors.  Dorian’s descent into a life of evil was saddening to me.  I felt disappointed that he would fall prey to Harry’s false and immoral philosophies.  The manner in which Harry influences Dorian is very cunning, and seems to be a very accurate portrayal of the manner in which one might be deceived by hedonistic philosophies.

The tone of this novel is rather dark and gothic, so I am not sure that everyone would enjoy reading it.  I personally found it to be quite intriguing and instructive, even though it seemed eerie at times, especially at the end.  This could be considered a very tragic story, but I think Oscar Wilde teaches some valuable lessons in this book.  I would recommend the book to most people, although some people may find it to be a bit creepy.

-Oliver H.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Libby.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner is the first book in its trilogy by James Dashner, published in 2009. It follows the main character, Thomas, who wakes up with no memory in a strange elevator. He only remembers his name and does not know where he is. The elevator doors open, and he is exposed to an entirely new world. Thomas immediately meets new people that are trapped in his new abode, they are all teenage boys who work every day out in the Glade, an area with foliage and farms that is surrounded by a huge, stone Maze. He befriends a few of the boys, Minho, Newt, Chuck, and Alby who introduce him to everything and explain where he is. All the boys have the same backstory: They were placed in an elevator and brought down here, with no memory of their former lives except for their names.

They are surrounded by the Maze, an intricate labyrinth with moving doors and large stone walls that are impossible to climb over. There is seemingly no exit, and the boys have been trying to escape from the maze ever since they got there. While there are many jobs that keep the little community they have formed going, the most important of them all is the Runner. Runners are sent into the Maze during the day to try and map out an exit but to no avail. Runners also have the most dangerous jobs, as if they cannot find their way back to the entrance before night they are trapped in the Maze with horrible, stinging monsters called Grievers whose sole purpose is to kill the boys. Thomas’ only goal is to become a Runner, and as the Maze closes one night when his friends Minho and Alby do not return, Thomas runs into the Maze after them.

He saves them and is quickly promoted to a Runner. However, strange things begin to happen around the Glade. A girl named Teresa arrives in the Box with their last shipment of supplies, and Thomas befriends her quickly. He is the main suspect of these happenings, but his friends must learn to trust him in order to solve the puzzle of the Maze.

I loved this story. It kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time, and the ending was phenomenal, even though it was a cliff-hanger. I had to read the entire trilogy, and all of the books were amazing. I would definitely recommend checking this one out, as it has some great plot points as well as surprising twists. The Maze Runner is filled with turns that will make you want to read every chapter. One reason I like this book so much is because of its amazing descriptions. How everything was described allowed me to imagine the story and picture all the characters, especially the Maze and the Grievers inside.

If you are looking for a good read that has a great story, then you should check out Maze Runner. After reading, I checked out the next book in the trilogy, The Scorch Trials, right away. This book may not be for everybody, but if you enjoy adventure and science fiction, then you should read The Maze Runner. Thanks for reading my review!

-Brandt D.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Libby.

have you seen me? by Kate White

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have you seen me? by Kate White is an excellent novel of mystery, suspense, and nail-biting thrills.

The book opens with main character Ally Linden arriving to her workplace an hour earlier than everyone else. However, she soon remembers that she has not worked there in five years- and even more troubling, she doesn’t remember where she has been for the last three days.

Determined to find out what caused her fugue state and what she did, Ally hires two private investigators to retrace her steps for those three days. Quickly, questions begin to pop up- why didn’t her husband report her missing? Where have her purse and phone gone? Do the bloodstained tissues in her pocket mean something? Could the episode be related to a traumatic incident she experienced in her past? Every time we think we’ve figured it out, a new twist reveals that everything is not as it seems.

I really liked this book! The surprise ending left me in complete shock- I’m usually very good at guessing what’ll happen at the end of suspense novels and solving the mystery, but the resolution of this book completely caught me by surprise- it was ingenious. White used diversion and opaque writing masterfully to her advantage, weaving the perfect web of suspense. While the writing was a little too technical in some parts (financial journalism was described in excruciating detail), I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a dark suspense thriller.

-Vaidehi B.

have you seen me? by Kate White is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Libby.

The Other Side of Dark by Joan Lowery Nixon

I read this book a while ago because my mother gave it to me as a gift. Of course I was going to read it. When I first read it, I thought whatever about it until I re-read it. I mean the girl wakes up from coma at age 17 after her house was attacked and her mother was killed. She was in a coma for 4 years! The crazy thing is that she was the only person that saw the person who killed her mother.

Stacy is now trying to recover memories with the help of new face Jeff. So many twists, lies, and secrets to discover with the mental age of 13, in a 17 year old body. Who can she trust? Who can she not trust? Who should she listen to and so forth?

This was a fun thriller that I took my time with because I could. If you are looking for a suspenseful, thrilling, and eerie book this is definitely the read for you! I highly recommend this book even though it was written quite a while ago.

-Coralie D.

The Other Side of Dark by Joan Lowery Nixon is available to download for free from Libby.

The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois

The Twenty-One Balloons is a Newbery Award-winning novel by William Pène du Bois.  A professor named William Waterman Sherman has been found floating in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.  At the time of his rescue, he is surrounded by the wreckage of twenty deflated balloons.  He had departed three weeks earlier from his home in San Francisco, using a giant gas balloon to fly over the Pacific Ocean.  Somehow, he ended up in the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by twenty balloons.  When he finally arrives home, the people are anxious to learn what had happened to him.  They could not imagine how he could have circled the globe in only three weeks, and why he ended up with twenty balloons rather than the one balloon with which he began his journey.  So, the professor gives a speech to recount his amazing adventure. 

Professor Sherman explains that he had wanted to get away from the world, just so that he could relax for a time.  He decided to drift on a balloon over the Pacific Ocean.  Unfortunately, he crashed on the volcanic island of Krakatoa.  He was greeted there by a man in a white suit and bowler hat.  The man is part of a hidden community in the middle of the island.  As the professor was introduced to the community, he came to realize that this was a highly-sophisticated civilization.

I enjoyed reading about the inhabitants of Krakatoa, and about the professor’s adventures on the island and around the world.  His journey is interesting and exciting.  There were many whimsical and amusing elements to this story as well.  In a way this novel feels like a blend of truth and fiction.  The author seems to include some social commentary about the aristocrats living in Krakatoa, but for the most part this book is simply a playful children’s story.  It was a quick read but very enjoyable.  I can certainly see why this was awarded the Newbery Medal, and I would definitely recommend this book.

-Oliver H.

The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.