“Nine Perfect Strangers” by Liane Moriarty (2018)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

First, I’d like to point out that I actually read Nine Perfect Strangers before I decided to start reading Big Little Lies. While I’m only 100-some-odd pages into BLL, there have already been striking similarities. BLL focuses around three individuals, while NPS focuses around – well – nine. The writing in general is striking and straight-forward, but I didn’t expect anything less from such a highly recommended author.

When I started NPS, I had no idea what I was getting into. I knew Moriarty’s past with BLL, but I didn’t know about any of her other books until I got NPS from Book of the Month (click here for a free book w/ your first box: BOTM). So, in a way I went into my first Moriarty book blind.

I was surprised to see that this book is placed in the psychological thriller category rather than a straight-on mystery. The book itself doesn’t seem as though it’d have that kind of edge with the description, or the cover, but I’m glad it fell into it. While psychological thrillers tend to be my favorite kind of thrillers, I never approach them lightly. In this instance, I was hesitant with the introduction of a new author, but it didn’t take long before I realized Moriarty was going to be my new “auto-buy” author.

So, to get the general gist of what we’re diving into here, here’s the summary from the inner-sleeve of the book:

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amid all the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be. 

Frances Welty, the formerly bestselling romantic novelists, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person who intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House – Masha Dmitrichenko. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer–or should she run while she still can?

It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.

Combining all the hallmarks that have made Liane Moriarty’s writing a go-to for anyone looking for wickedly smart, page-turning fiction that will make you laugh and gasp, Nine Perfect Strangers once again shows why she is a master of her craft.

The constant mention of Frances is a little misleading considering this novel is based around more than just her. With eight other strangers, Frances’ journey into Tranquillum House is anything but ordinary. Starting off, they’re slowly introduced one-by-one by showing the way they’re arriving to the House itself. Each character has their own back story, and more importantly, they’re all relatable and realistic. However, the further they go into the House, the weirder it gets.

They’re given a strict schedule on the food they eat, the activities they need to perform, and even how often they’re permitted to speak. Needless to say, this resort is anything but pampering, and it isn’t long before people start to ask questions. Why is Masha keeping them there? Why do they rarely see her? Who was holding on to their phones? How did they find their “contraband?”

Well, come to find out, Tranquillum House wasn’t always as strict as it was. Masha just changed the directive. After a heart attack she suffered back in Russia, she decided she needed a new look on life, so she moved to Australia and inflicted her lifestyle on her patients. Which led to a criminalizing result.

Needless to say, this novel is altogether funny, sad, lighthearted, and I found it very thought-provoking especially after the twist – which is what really hooked me. My husband had to ask why I audibly gasped at the book I was reading, and I legitimately had to read the pages out loud. The twist, in my opinion, was insane and led up to the only ending I thought the book deserved.

As someone who isn’t a very quick reader, I devoured this book in a little under a week (school permitting), and I’m glad I did. Now that I know I have a new auto-buy author to stock my shelves with, I left this book feeling a little more complete. However, while I’ve managed to rate this book with five stars – that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. I’ll be honest, while I was writing this, I crept a little on GoodReads and to my surprise, the high reviews were very slim. So, this book might not be for everyone, but it was good enough for me.

 

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