Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty was my November Book of the Month, and this book was interesting to say the least. When I read the description about this book, I was excited because I thought it would be a psychological thriller. Maybe it was, but not in the traditional sense of a thriller. I feel like it had some psychological challenges that each of the guests had to face, so it did have that going for it.
The story is told through multiple points of view and gives different perspectives about what is going on at the retreat. Without giving any specific spoilers, I will mention that this retreat seems to a little sketchy. When the guests first arrive at the Tranquillum House, it seems that something is off about the place. Howeverrrrrr, it took about 250 pages for things to truly pick up. It might be due to so many character POVs and character development.
Speaking of character development, each of the characters are interesting in a sense, but I think some of them seemed flat and superficial. I felt that some were included just for the purpose of having nine characters. Frances was one of the characters that had the most POV chapters. She seemed to have an interesting background, but her character development was basically nonexistent. Ben and Jessica were probably some of the most dynamic characters because they ultimately had an epiphany from their “personal transformation”, which was kind of exciting. Although, Jessica did tend to get on my nerves most of the time I did enjoy reading their POVs. Carmel was just annoying. She seemed to whine on and on about her body image even though she was consistently told that she wasn’t fat or overweight. She was full of self loathing because she “let herself go” and her husband left her when he wasn’t attracted to her anymore. It’s sad, I get that. But I don’t need to hear about it in every single dialogue from her.
The Marconi family seemed to be the most well developed and interesting characters. The life experience they were trying to get through is the most difficult challenge any of the guest had to face, and I felt that Napoleon, Heather, and Zoe each provided a more dynamic element to the story.
TBH, I was a little disappointed because this book wasn’t truly a psychological thriller. With a title like Nine Perfect Strangers, I guess I made an incorrect assumption thinking it might be reminiscent to And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. Other than the Resort Director being a creepy, maniacal narcissist there wasn’t really anything thrilling about this novel. Despite that, I did enjoy reading this. After 250 pages of endless ramblings and character introductions, things started to get an exciting and made me wonder what was going on. Without giving any spoilers, that is really all I can say about this.
The next part of this review will contain spoilers, so read at your own risk!
What really annoyed me about this is that no one got murdered. That sounds harsh. I know. But, I feel that if this was more of a whodunnit type of mystery thriller, this book could have been so great. Add in the suspense of wondering which one of the guests is secretly a murderer, and BAM. Perfection. Frances kept referring to Tony as “Serial Killer”, so naturally I thought someone was going to die. Sadly, No. And the irony…. Frances ended up falling for Tony and they lived happily ever after. While I am a sucker for romance, I wasn’t really feeling it in this book. It seemed kind of forced, especially since she was a romance writer who was scammed during an internet romance (WTF? Is this for real?).
Thennn….. Masha – The resort director – secretly had been giving the guests drugs to induce psychedelic therapy. This seems like the perfect opportunity to truly create some entertaining chaos… Again, sadly no. What was entertaining was how she completely lost her shit and made everyone believe they were going to be burned alive when she said that building was on fire, while they were locked in the meditation room. I think she may have been my favorite character as crazy and maniacal as she was. Eventually, she even went to jail for her unorthodox treatments. Once she was out, she still continued with her secret facilities. Hopefully, she does go fully psycho and murder her guests. Liane Moriarty should consider that as a sequel to this book.
I would recommend this book despite my endless rambling and ranting. My main issue was that I began reading it with the wrong idea, but I did like it. It was different that other types of books I’ve read before, and I couldn’t put it down about half way through because I was intrigued at the point. If you have read it then share your thoughts with me because I am always up for a book discussion.