The Patient by Jasper Dewitt (2020) Review

If Lovecraft had written One Flew Over the Cucko’s Nest

Why I picked up the book:

 The Patient is described as “appealing to fans of Behind Her Eyes and The Cabin at the End of the World.” Because I loved the former and have no interest in the latter, I kept thinking about this book but would never pick it up. Last week, I finally took the plunge and decided not to wait any longer. It sounds like a short, intense, crazy ride, and I am ready for it!

I wonder if it will be a multimedia book, as the book is Parker H.’s account of his time working in a mental hospital. He chronicles his efforts to cure the titular patient on an internet message board.

Who is this patient, after all? Just a 40-year-old who has been in the institution since he was 6, yet is still undiagnosed. Huh? Yup, not only do his symptoms keep evolving, bringing utter confusion to those working with him. The patient has also driven everyone who has worked with him to either suicide or madness. 

Obviously, the director keeps this patient isolated. Of course, Parker is driven by his ego and curiosity and is determined to be the one to break through this case. 

Jeez, I wonder if anything will go wrong?

The book through my criteria lens:

I think The Patient is a powerful debut novel. The narrative is impressive, the pacing was fantastic, and the characters were well developed. I enjoyed having a small cast of characters to invest in. Parker is our narrator through his posts in a forum. Joe, the “patient” was terrifically disturbing. Such a strong character, well developed, who evokes both repulse and empathy. Because we meet him as a child, I totally identified with Parker and hoped Joe could be helped.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Even though I put it down 19 pages in, I read it in one sitting once I picked it up in the morning. I only put it down because I started reading it in the dark in the middle of the night. Learn from my mistake and don’t! Just don’t.

The Patient’s plot is a brilliant idea and executed almost flawlessly. If you want to know why I didn’t score execution higher, check the last paragraph as it contains minor spoilers.

My personal feelings:

I FINALLY READ A BOOK THAT SCARED ME!!! Why am I so happy? I really don’t know, but The Patient is utterly terrifying and disturbing. Dewitt leaves you no choice, whether the novel turns out to be supernatural or not, every page is unsettling and frightening. The scenes at the state-run institution gave me major One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Girl, Interrupted vibes. The Patient is just as unsettling (take a shot every time I use this word, but really – what other word can I use?) and hopeless. I get why Parker wanted to make a difference; a reform has been needed for decades!

The human side of it scared me; the description of some actions is really graphic, and it lingers with you. We see people at their worse – patients and staff alike. Don’t even get me started on the horror you imagine based on the description Joe gives of his bedroom monster – it’s a vivid image you will not forget easily. The monster Joe imagines as a child is literally the stuff nightmares are made of.

As I mentioned, you spend most of the book wondering if there are supernatural elements to the book, and without spoiling the story, I will say that whether or not there is; this book is scary as it represents true evil. A sociopath is both fascinating and terrifying, and to see them as a child doing unspeakable things – no words

**Major Spoilers below** (click on the arrow)
    I can’t talk about the book without mentioning Dewitt’s direction of choice because I know this will make or break someone’s reading experience. I can see why some people would hate the supernatural element, but I loved it.
    The second half of this novel gave me major Lovecraftian vibes, and I was hoping he’d go there. I have the utmost respect for Dewitt’s brilliance. He literally created a monster who internalizes the negative feedback other people project on him to the point of becoming the thing that unsettles others the most. THINK.ABOUT.IT.
    Joe is a monster who becomes the projection of other’s most visceral fears and taunts that person until their only option is madness or death. HOLY FUDGE! I am an empath, and unfortunately, I know that there are truly evil people out there. For that reason, I appreciate the choice Dewitt made to dehumanize that evil. I was more scared when that evil’s face was that of a child, to be honest.
    Even though I understood what the monster was, I pictured it in my head, and I was well aware of its instinct; I just wish that the mythology could have been better explored/developed. I would love to have explored its origins as there was mention of others of its kind. (or if I am candid, it would have made me less scared as I could rationalize it)

– sincerely, a very unsettled prey

wonder if it will wor

Enjoyability     10

Characters       10

Ambience        10

Fairness          10

Plot                  10

Execution        9

My total rating: 4.91

Review for this book is mentioned in this video: TBP




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Until next book, be the hummingbird!

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