Nine Perfect Strangers

by Liane Moriarty

She dared to look up and the stars were a million darting eyes on the lookout for rule-breaking in her story: sexism, ageism, racism, tokenism, ableism, plagiarism, cultural appropriation, fat-shaming, body-shaming, slut-shaming, vegetarian-shaming, real-estate-agent-shaming.

Liane Moriarty’s new book, Nine Perfect Strangers, is somewhat of a departure from her usual dual timeline of slowly revealing a devastating occurrence happening in the present while going back in time with them to show her cast of character’s journeys to that life-altering point in time. Mystery, suspense, and entertaining character studies culminating in a shocking and twisty climax result, along with a very satisfying conclusion.

This book delivers on the characters, and the surprises, but falls short of most of her previous books. The sarcastic irreverent humor is there too, but not in such generous amounts, it seemed to me. The book features “nine perfect strangers”, brought together in extraordinary and stressful circumstances. They all have their sad, challenging, or tragic backstories which are revealed as the book goes on. Only a few of the nine are characters I would typically be interested in or drawn to, but such is Liane’s writing that I became wholly invested in most of them sooner or later and cared about their outcomes. The last chapters in the book, which provide mini-epilogues to all of their lives, really ended the book on a high note. I loved what she did there, but wish we had more of their stories after they left Tranquillum House. They went their separate ways, but most of them stayed connected in one way or another. I would have liked a little more of That.

Some of the developments with Masha, one of the main characters, were over the top. I burst out with an “Oh No She Didn’t!” more than once. But it got a little too crazy for me at one point. She got a little too crazy. There were a few draggy spots, and I did not enjoy the hallucinations the characters experienced.  I pretty much skipped through those parts. They were tedious and unnecessary. I felt unsatisfied by her part of the story. Such a strong character needed a stronger ending.

All in all, almost 4 stars. It kept me engaged, but it lacked the nail-biting suspense and shocks of some of her earlier books. And even though I was interested and invested in all of the characters, at least, most of them, there were none that I just loved.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

January 1, 2019

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